Brain Cohen makes Trax

An abandoned funeral parlour on Plenty Road in Preston first caught the eye of Brian Cohen from Trax while he was exploring the area for office space during a residency at the Preston Market in 2007-2009. After unsuccessful negotiations with owners of large office spaces, “they all wanted a lot for a little” says Brian, the disused and vandalised undertakers was an appealing prospect.

An online land title search cost just $15, presenting him with the owning company’s name. Further online research directed Brian to the address of a mall in Albury, which led him to the owner. He called immediately to learn that the owner hadn’t seen his property for some time and was shocked to hear it was vandalised. Brian proposed that for a low cost rental he would occupy the building as an arts and culture initiative, clean it up and establish a presence on the site.

The owner was in the process of securing a planning permit for the site, intending to build apartments, so while he agreed to the proposal he was hesitant to commit to any length of lease. Eventually he agreed to a six month minimum lease, which will continue month to month until he receives planning permission to redevelop. A number of locals have recently contacted Brian saying they have lodged objections, so the planned development is likely be 12 to 18 months away, meaning the tenants of the Parlour will have a home for longer.

Initially unsure how the artist population of the unique building (complete with chapel and mortuary) would develop, Brian put out a call for expressions of interest through several channels, including Creative Spaces, back in February. Within weeks the use of the building was fully mapped out with “the tenants that will launch and shape the work culture”, and a growing waiting list in place.

Brian will curate and manage The Parlour, joined by illustrators, bookmakers, textile makers, media artists, a recycled furniture designer and photographers (the mortuary will convert to a dark room). The building has needed a lot of cosmetic attention – painting, carpets, and windows – but the infrastructure is in healthy shape so refurbishment has mostly been undertaken by the tenants themselves.

Much of Brian’s work with Trax focuses on cultural development through creativity and collectivism, with collaborative digital, theatre and installation projects. He sees the Parlour as “an exciting curatorial challenge”. With such a short time in the space he hopes that he can still “encourage memories to be created” and that cross pollinations will occur with the collective creative network that has formed.

Brian also sees the Parlour and its tenants as “the seeds on the sock” on the much larger issue of encouraging cultural vitality with urban renewal and gentrification.

“There is a demonstrated need for affordable studio, office and gathering space for the creative class of the Inner North…without the opportunity for cultural activity to develop what will surround these grey five storey styro-crete constructions?” Asks Brian, who remarks that the character and colour of Preston reminds him of growing up around New York.

“Culture doesn’t just happen; it needs the right environments to flourish within. Long term, it’s mutually and economically beneficial for local government to implement considered cultural provisions around cultural activity. But by then our impending eviction would’ve impended, and we’ll be somewhere else, saying the same thing, again.”

The Chapel is now available for hire, read more.

Draw! – Classes with Erika Gofton, Melbourne

When you want to draw and live in the Melbourne area, who better to learn off than a Contemporary Visual Artist who really knows her stuff!

Hervey Bay Art classes – Creative Leap

Practicing Contemporary Visual Artist Amanda van gils and Vito Manfredi are running more art classes in 2011 for youngsters, what better way to encourage the creative genius in your child. If you live up that way take a look at their website and give your child a creative edge in life.



Have you ever wondered why your children (or even you for that matter…)  should study Art? Then here’s the answer!

The Benefits of Art Classes

Did you know that exposure to the visual arts helps children to develop sophisticated thinking skills as well as fine and gross motor skills?

They also:
Facilitate communication from the earliest ages through the child’s own graphic language
Encourage children to make their own decisions and choices, Promote vocabulary, symbolic representation and confidence in self expression, Support and extend formal learning

What does Art have to offer?
We believe the Visual Arts are a necessary part of the education of all children.
For some children, the visual realm will be their natural element and they will benefit from identifying and realising their skills and preferences early in life.
For other children, Art will provide necessary skills to balance the skills and knowledge gained through other subject areas like mathematics and english and physical activities.

We believe all children are capable of experiencing the joy of the Visual Arts regardless of age or ability.

We live in an image saturated society; Art education provides visual literacy to help children understand and analyse images and their visual messages.
Many current and future employment options will value visual literacy – from the more obvious Art related fields through to marketing, advertising, design, architecture, website development, teaching and many more. The employment field will continue to expand into the future.

Ongoing classes enable children to become comfortable and confident. In our classes they can think, explore, create, problem solve and express their ideas and feelings.

Melbourne Art Classes – Erika Gofton

When you want to be tutored by one of Melbourne’s premier Contemporary Realist Artists you need look no further than the classes on offer from Erika Gofton. Take a look at the site and the amazing work she has done with her students. Stunning outcomes for the short time the classes have been running!


Excellent work Erika the team here wish you every success!



“Erika’s gentle encouragement gave me the courage to step outside my comfort zone”

“Have learnt so much over the past weeks, am eager to continue”

“I’ve done art for many years but still managed to learn heaps”

“I found that each week built on previous weeks knowledge and provided a good basis for getting a real passion for art as well as opening my eyes up a little more to what was happening in art I admire”

“I didnt expect the class to be so thorough in such a short space of time. The teacher was very friendly, helpful and encouraging”

“Supportive and inspiring teacher”

These are just some of the positive comments students have made about the classes. It doesn’t get much better than that!

A site for emerging Visual Artists…

I like to think my Art sites are the only ones out there… but thankfully they aren’t and every now and then I get to check out others. Here’s one that came up today which has some great information for emerging artists!

Carolyn Edlund has an active blog with interviews and ideas to get the ball rolling, well done Carolyn.

Valuing Art… One viewpoint.

Pricing art can be tricky here’s Shane’s take on things….

Art Support

This came across the desktop this morning… Thanks Kerrie. Great idea to assist arts people in the community! Any in your area? Drop me a line and let me know… Steve G


Calling ALL young visual & performing artists living in Baw Baw Shire

aged between 18 years to 35 years

  • Would you like to meet up with like minded artists? 
  •  Get together social meetings held on a regular basis i.e. monthly.
  • Visit galleries, artist studios and performance venues.  
  • Exhibit your work at an exhibition for young artists only.
  • Hear first hand of any events coming up.

* Any suggestions?     * Preferred venues?    * Time/day of get togethers?


  If you are interested and have any other ideas please call or email your details to:

    Rhona Hendrick 5629 9780, Mail: PO Box 635, Drouin 3818



    Karen Whitaker-Taylor 5624 2407,




Going Solo… Ursula Theinert

It’s not every day you get a chance to explore the behind the scenes efforts of artists, as they do their “bit” to add to the cultural landscape and provide us with their unique insights into the world from their creative standpoint. So here is a “diary” of setting up a show by Ursula Theinert, who’s first solo show is at a public gallery in large country town, blessed with a great regional gallery. So lets follow part of her journey as events unfold, I hope you enjoy this as much as I have. Oh and see her own website by following her link in the artists links to the right below for more images of the show.

Steve Gray


This is an insight into the last few days of my first solo exhibition. I am going to include a short introduction and then a series of photographs and diary entries that show the sequence of events that lead to the attainment of one of the important goals, which artists set for themselves.

At the time of submitting my proposal to the gallery, on 25/4/07, I only had the concept, which was, to address the hidden problems of forest management. My focus was going to be on pine plantations to highlight the plantations of an alien species of trees which covers thousands of hectares of land, insidiously effecting the environment. I wanted to reveal that under the canopy of perceived green there is a veritable desert of pine needles affecting the habitat of our native flora and fauna.

I intended to express the landscape in human terms, as a living entity, in order to heighten passion and empathy.

The gallery took me on good faith and I worked very hard to complete the series of paintings. This personal journey culminated with the exhibition opening night on the 24th of October, 2008. It has been a very rewarding experience and one that I will to share with you through my diary.
Having created the works I was now in the final planning stages, on the weekend before the set up day 21/10/08, I made a list of the final jobs that needed to be done.


I typed up and printed my labels and then pasted them to the back of all my works on paper and canvas.

I then needed to find enough “D” rings to attach to the back of all the canvases. I also checked that all the edges of the canvases were clean, and painted them white. I also decided to measure and mark the distances for hanging just above the “D” rings so that the set up day would go smoothly. I used the formula :-
A divided by 2 +B – C = D
A = The height of the work.
B = The height from the floor to the centre line of the work, which is 1500mm.
C = The distance from the top of the work down to the top of the “D” ring.
D = The height from the floor to where you should place the hanging system.


I had an interesting wood sculpture that was a little unstable but I wanted to include it in the exhibition. So I went on a hunt around the back of our old workshop and found a beautiful rusty old piece of forged steel, which I think is part of an old railway line. It was used to go under the railway track which is then fixed onto the sleeper. It was perfect for the sculpture “Time Warp”, and after a great deal of wire brushing and hitting rust off with a hammer, and then oiling, it looked wonderful. Two holes were drilled through the steel and attached to the sculpture. All I needed to do then was to re-sand the sculpture and oil it. This was followed by a buff and polish and it was ready!


I had 16 paintings to pack into the van. Eight of them were framed and all were about 750 x 1000mm, so they were quite heavy. They went down first and then the four 1500 x 1200mm canvases, followed by the three 1000 x 2.200mm canvases. My handy commuter van has plenty of storage space. I could even put the small canvas at the end of the bay.
I almost forgot my sculpture. I wrapped it up and strapped it into the seat with the seat belt. Finally, all the packing was done along with a bag full of trifolds, business cards, and a visitor book. I also had an additional list of measurements, cleaning cloths and glass cleaner. I was a little nervous about the set up day and I wanted to be organized and look as professional as possible!

21/10/08 – SET UP DAY!
I didn’t sleep well that night. My husband, Werner, and I arrived at the Latrobe Regional Gallery at about 9.30 a.m. and had a coffee at the gallery coffee shop “So Swish”. We then got to work and were pleasantly surprised that some of the gallery staff helped us unload the van and get the work into the gallery space. They told us that there was a shared “set up day” with Monash University Gippsland Campus – Magistery Exhibition. I was also going to have a joint opening with this exhibition! This exhibition would have works from past and present art lecturers, and so they would not be able to help me set up that morning and would install my works either later that day or the next morning. All I had to do was to unwrap the works and decide on the placement along the walls. That job was easy especially when my friends and fellow artists were there to help me.

After the placement was decided all I had to do was to revise me list of works to help the gallery staff amend the copy that I had emailed them earlier. I also wrote down some additional instructions e.g. I needed two plinths – one for the sculpture and one for the trifolds, business cards and visitor’s book.

It was lovely to have Kerrie, Leonie (artists and dear friends) and Werner, my photographer, share this day with me. It was a great support and made the day a lot of fun. We all enjoyed a cup of coffee and a chat afterwards. I decided to come back the following day just to check that all was well. And of course the gallery staff did a super job!


It was very exciting to have the opening of the exhibition finally arrive. It was a joint opening and there was a large crowd and a wonderful atmosphere. Paul Holton welcomed everyone and then gave the opening speech for my exhibition – I had butterflies and a smile from ear to ear! Tony Hanning then gave his speech which was followed by the guest speaker for the Magistery exhibition Professor Helen Bartlett, who is the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash University Gippsland Campus. It was a grand affair!! How fortunate for me to be part of this special opening night.

After the speeches people went up to Gallery 6 and my exhibition. I was very happy to see the many friends, family and fellow students coming along to support me. It was also pleasing to see so many unknown faces in the crowd too.

I felt so fortunate to have my teachers, Peter Biram and Chris Myers, who have always been so encouraging and inspiring, to be at the exhibition. And my son James, who flew down from Cairns to share that special night with me.

Just to show you the beautiful space at Latrobe Regional Gallery.

The whole experience of exhibiting at LRG was enriching, and one that I wouldn’t have missed for anything! The exhibition space is beautiful, and the staff were professional and helpful.

It is a challenging journey to strive to be an artist and it extremely important to be surrounded by talented, stimulating and encouraging people. I recognize that I have been extremely fortunate to have so many wonderful and kind people supporting me and they have all played a part in making one of my dreams come true.

Do you have questions for the Artist? Go to the comments section at the bottom of this post and ask away.

Compiled and edited by Steve Gray Contemporary Australian Artist