Brisbane’s new home of contemporary visual arts powers up in June 2022 when Metro Arts launches MAVA (Metro Arts Visual Arts) Substation – a refurbished arts space in the inner-south suburb of Norman Park.
The former Substation No. 9 building at 97 Wynnum Road once supplied power to Brisbane’s tram system before Metro Arts reclaimed the space for artists in 2007.
Following an exciting refurbishment project, the vital making hub will debut a new community workshop, artist studio and equipment hire as well as programs designed to develop sustainable career paths for contemporary visual artists.
The first of these is the MAVA Pathfinders Program, endowing three Queensland mid-career visual artists with a 12-month paid residency, studio space, materials budget, workshop access and professional development opportunities.
The inaugural recipients are Caitlin Franzmann, an immersive artist who uses her craft to explore environment, history and placemaking, Elizabeth Willing, whose multi-disciplinary work is thematically inspired by food and hospitality, and painter, photographer and digital media artist James Barth.
Metro Arts CEO and Artistic Director Jo Thomas said as Brisbane’s only multi-disciplinary arts incubator, Metro Arts had a responsibility to support contemporary artists to not just survive but thrive.
“Queensland is home to a strong independent sector of visual artists and it is vital they have the opportunity to purposefully harness their potential to build a sustainable career,” Ms Thomas said.
“Our MAVA Pathfinders Program gives them the resources, opportunities, networks and access they need to progress their craft and plan for the future at this crucial point in their career.
“I am delighted to welcome Elizabeth, James and Caitlin as our inaugural MAVA Substation artists-in-residence and I know they will infuse this space with their vibrancy and creativity.”
As a part of the creative residency and career development program, the artists will work closely with Producer Jenna Green and the Metro Arts team, and broader networks to undertake an ambitious program of creative work designed to foster entrepreneurialism.
“With 42 years of experience, our organisation has a wealth of knowledge to offer the artists, but it will be exciting to see how they too shape Metro Arts, particularly the
Substation space which will be a hive of activity once our new workshop opens later this year.”
“This is a transformational opportunity for each of the artists, I cannot wait to see the effect it has on their careers in both the short and long term.”
Ms Willing said she was drawn to both the creative focus and financial security of the program.
“The MAVA concept is exceptional – a platform for diving headfirst into a dream project,” she said.
“I want to create ambitious work, the kind of large-scale projects that are inconceivable if taken on unaided and chances to take these kinds of technical leaps at the start of a professional career are scarce.”
Ms Franzmann said learning efficient working practices such as financial management, project documentation and archiving and website management would ultimately free more time for her research and art-making.
“It will be an incredible opportunity to focus on and diversify my practice to enable not only a sustainable financial future but a thriving and fulfilling career that, I hope, will contribute to cultural change,” she said.
“The biggest issue that we are all facing right now is the climate crisis. I believe that artists can contribute to greater awareness of current environmental issues and social injustices and have the ability to instigate real actions towards cultural change.”
Ms Barth plans to develop new digitally rendered video works during the 12-month program and collaborate with musicians, sound artists, theatre performers and other artists.
“I have lately felt quite limited with what I can achieve as an individual artist and have realised the need for support in learning to artistically direct and collaborate with other specialists,” she said.
“MAVA Pathfinders offers me the time and resources to move beyond myself, whether in terms of subject and self-representation, learning to work with as well as guide performers and specialists and ultimately having the skillsets to work on larger collaborations.”
The $200,000 MAVA Pathfinders Program was made possible through the support of the Federal Government’s Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund and Metro Arts.