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Reproduced from bROARdsheet   COUNT TO TEN  1992

 

Celebrating ten years of Roar/Roar 2 Studios, Brunswick St. Fitzroy

Melbourne’s then longest running artist-run gallery and  studio spaces

Original source material available from:

The State Library of Victoria.

 

 

10 YEARS IS A LONG TIME. FROM ROAR TO ROAR 2 by David Slattery

 

Roar mutated into Roar 2 in January 1988. Since its inception many things had remained the same at Roar- the principles of its operation continued (primarily with the aim of maintaining a space run by and for artists who wanted to organise their own exhibitions), the artists involved changed over time- yet a common and seemingly unshakeable misconception persisted amongst the public that Roar’s purpose was to act as some kind of showcase for “Neo-Expressionist” art. It  is argued elsewhere in this broadsheet that this was never in fact part of Roar’s brief.

 

The history of the gallery belongs therefore to all the members that have been associated with Roar/Roar 2 over the last ten years.

 

Even aside from this question of perceived style, it is apparent that, as most of the original group had ceased to have any association with the gallery after about 1983, visitors saw a continuous and changing range of exhibitions that continued until the present, that defied any easy categorisation of style. This diversity of style, it can be suggested, has been one of the strong points of the gallery. Visitors saw a vast range of art of different temperaments and varying standards that elicited a wide range of audience response.

   We created Roar 2 to symbolically dissociate the gallery from the so-called “old Roar” and to show that the venture that was conceived with such enthusiasm in the early 80’s had gone on to develop and mature in its own right. Roar Phase 2 really began in 1984 when the old guard had left for further adventures but it was several years before the artists who were then running the gallery felt it opportune to make the point that, while things were still being run as always at Roar, things were somehow different. The style was different and no longer fitted the stereotypes that people were only too willing to create around the work of artists and artist-run spaces.

   John Hinds created the new logo and collectively we worked to create a smoothly run gallery which was not operating always in debt as people commonly supposed it should. Throughout this process the one constant that remained was the regular supply of shows that continued to sustain the daily life of Roar 2.

   Opinions differ as to how successful Roar/Roar 2 has been. Some assess the size of opening night crowds, the trendiness of crowds/styles, the number of red stickers etc. And while these success indicators reflect very much an individual’s viewpoint, the “bottom line” of the success of the gallery is the fact that it has existed and presented a continuous stream of exhibitions from its opening night in 1982 through to the present almost all organised and presented by the artists themselves. This “chain of events’ has had it’s broken moments shows that have fallen through at the last moment, hastily organised substitutes, the substantial debts, particularly in the early ‘80’s, that threatened the continued existence of the gallery and the perceived successes and failures of individual artists and their exhibitions. Yet this thread has held and the strength of the gallery is witnessed in the work of the many artists that are associated with these two exhibitions that celebrate 10 years of Roar/Roar 2’s operation.

   Many highlights of Roar/Roar 2 remain unrecorded- works have been viewed by th public, artists have moved on to bigger and better ventures, works have sold and a myriad of other events have happened against the backdrop of the gallery confines, all of which attest to the fact that something did, and continues to, happen at Roar/Roar 2. Yet, in the end, each individual artist from the thousands who have shown work at the gallery will have a personal opinion as to the success or otherwise  of the venture for them.

   10 Years is a long time, particularly for a self-funding artist run exhibition space. Roar 2 plans to continue and may, given the willingness and energy of its constantly changing members, evolve into its Roar 3 variant. Those currently at Roar 2 have discussed the possibility of ultimately procuring an additional building and setting up a complex of studio spaces and perhaps the time will come when this becomes a reality.

   When Roar Studios turned into Roar 2, in effect we broke with the public misconception of what Roar was and stated that Roar was not to be associated with any particular group or ideology. Roar was set up, in 1982, and incorporated in 1983 as a public body. As such it has existed and developed on the strength and input of the vast range of people who have made up its membership over the years. The history of the gallery belongs therefore to all the members that have been associated with Roar/Roar 2 over the last ten years- and it is this fact that is being celebrated in this range of exhibitions. 

   It may come as a surprise to many people that Roar 2 is solvent. People commonly assume that  Roar is or should be broke. While this was often true in the early days and while things in particular looked very shaky in early 1985 with the arrival of threatening solicitors letters over debts of several thousand dollars, through good fortune, the hard work of the members and the timely arrival of the occasional grant, Roar/Roar 2 has pulled through and over the last five years has achieved a secure financial footing for itself- a rare feat for an artist-run venture of this type.

   The question of funding has always been a source of vigorous debate amongst the members. Some feel that Roar has been very neglected by the funding bodies and feel that more should have been directed our way. Others have argued for a more independent line and that Roar should have nothing to do with funding bodies.

   It is clear that Roar has received relatively little in the way of outside funding, that we have adopted, partly through choice and partly through necessity, an independent mode of operation, that the little funding we have received has been at times very timely and has assisted the gallery to keep operating and that additional funding could have and could be  put to great use. In particular funding from Vic Health has allowed us to celebrate our tnth anniversary in a more comprehensive manner than might otherwise be possible and that we are happy to be associated with such an organization with its clear message of positive living for the public.

   The Roar 2 contribution to these series of exhibitions celebrating the ten year anniversary is a three week exhibition entitled “Roar 2 Count to Ten” in which we trace the development of the gallery from 1984 onwards. In contrast the first exhibition which was open to all artists who exhibited in the initial period of Roar’s establishment, we deliberately restricted our invitations to exhibitors for the second show to either artists who occupied studios at the gallery and were actively involved in the administration of the gallery or to other individuals who made a very positive to the gallery on an ongoing basis. The basis of this show is to acknowledge those people on whom the ongoing viability of the gallery has rested.

   A different type of show might attempt to show the work of all the artists who have exhibited at Roar, but given the thousands of potential candidates, we felt that this was beyond our scope at this stage. Of the artists exhibiting in “Count to Ten”some have gone on to maintain careers as artists, or work in related fields as designers, educators or work in other arrears where their own art practice plays either a greater or lesser role. One thing is certain  and that is that they have  made a very positive contribution  to the success of Roar/Roar 2 and that they continue to make a very positive contribution to their current fields of endeavour within the wider community.

 

David Slattery

Reproduced from bROARdsheet   COUNT TO TEN  1992

Celebrating ten years of Roar/Roar 2 Studios, Brunswick St. Fitzroy

Melbourne’s then longest running artist-run gallery and  studio spaces

Original source material available from:

The State Library of Victoria.

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