March 23rd, 2022.
Art is an equaliser, a cultural yard stick and a poignant reflection of the zeitgeist. Contemporary art in particular has come to provide compelling documentation, articulation, and exploration of the world we share. At a time of instrumental change, a new gallery – Let’s Pretend Gallery – is opening in Melbourne to fulfil the role creative hubs have always played in society – the provision of a space where opinions can be shared, values instilled and experiences translated through the beauty of art.
Pre-pandemic, many galleries were gravitating to digital platforms, buoying the commercial side of the industry in favour of its unifying sense of community and the impact felt when standing in front of a transformative artwork. As we take a moment of exhalation in the wake of Covid’s devastating impact on every aspect of life, art’s relevance is once more showing its ability to reactivate the public realm and forge dormant connections between people and place.
Let’s Pretend Gallery has emerged right when art’s balm is again necessary. Supported by an arts grant from Stonnington Council, the enterprise has been conceived and realised by long time friends Andrew and Paul who recognised the need to provide a supportive environment for Melbourne’s art scene – particularly south of the Yarra. Much more than a gallery, Andrew and Paul have created a micro-community at 204 Commercial Road, Prahran, resurrecting a long-abandoned shoe store into a collection of spaces for large exhibitions and events downstairs and art studios on the first floor. Envisioning a place where the local art community can congregate, Andrew and Paul migrated from talk to action during Melbourne’s prolonged Covid lockdowns, leveraging arts capacity to rise above while still very much exploring the status quo.
Let’s Pretend has an approach that veers away from the traditional gallery model, staying dedicated to its relevance as a place of support for artists and their community. Prioritising a sense of social and civic uplift, Let’s Pretend is distinguished by a business model that firmly favours the practice of creating art, subsidising workspaces and working with a commission structure that makes gallery representation a viable options for emerging and established artists alike.
When Let’s Pretend officially opens its doors on 1st April, 2022 it will usher in an innovative approach to operating a gallery in a post-pandemic Melbourne. The inaugural exhibition, Mixed Messages by renown street artist Bailer breaks down preconceived notions around what denotes art — Does graffiti only exist if it is illegal? Can street art transfer from its urban context to the walls of a gallery? Can cultural influences converge to render entirely new graphic outcomes?
Let’s Pretend Gallery collaborators – Paul, Kepsi and Andrew.
Join Paul, Kepsi and Andrew at Let’s Pretend’s official vernissage event on 1st April, 2022 at 204 Commercial Road, Prahran. Register via Eventbrite.
Images | Duncographic
Words | Tiffany Jade