INTERVIEW: ASHLEIGH WHYTE OF PAPER MOUNTAIN
First published by the Space Ship News 29 November 2013
Back in October, Paper Mountain saw their new open workshop project the Common Room finally funded. With just a few days left before the Launch, we talked gigs, Perth artists and illegal casinos with Ashleigh Whyte when she emerged from the debris…
So just what, and why, is the Common Room?
AW: We had just the gallery and permanent studios, and we thought: sometimes artists only need a studio for a few weeks when they’re working on a particular project, so we removed half of a number of studios that we had and put in the Common Room.
This project was crowdfunded through Pozible – how have you found the experience?
AW: We were really overwhelmed with the support of the community. I guess at the start you just think ‘is this really going to work?’ but within a couple of days we reached our goal and exceeded it. People have donated their time, their money, and a library too – we’ve had people donating books, art books, academic texts, books on guinea pigs, gardening, lots of zines – people giving us things, popping in on weekends, scrubbing stairs, painting things – it’s just been really amazing. That reinforces to us that we’re doing a good thing, and I can’t wait to see people using the space.
Amongst the rewards for larger donations were a number of workshops hosted by the Common Room, including a life-drawing class head by yourself. Have you got many more of these planned for the future?
AW: Definitely. That’s one of the main purposes of the space: a lot of people were enquiring about using the gallery for workshops, artist talks and one-off events and we had to turn them down because there was a show in the gallery and that just wouldn’t work – we had put our exhibiting artists first. The Common Room will be available all the time, and we’ll be offering night-time hire of the space as well. We’re accepting proposals for exhibitions and other creative ideas at the moment, but people are approaching us all the time with ideas for the space so we’ll take it as it comes. This just allows us the flexibility to say ‘yes’.
The Common Room is obviously fitted for visual artists, with worktables and even a woodworking shop – is there any room for musicians?
AW: Musicians are welcome and there’s even the opportunity for bands to hire the space for gigs – though we do have a no drums policy, sorry! It’ll be nice to hear acoustic stuff in the Common Room too; there’s always a really good vibe when we bring live musicians into the space. Music and art just mesh so well together; it enhances the whole creative experience. The rooms used to be an illegal casino back in the 1960s (the ‘vault’ we’ve built our loft on is a real concrete vault!), then a gig space after that, so it’s nice to bring that element back into the building. The top of the vault’s all vintage couches, lots of plant life, an indoors-outdoors sort of vibe. I think this is going to be a much nicer atmosphere for people to play in rather than when it was just a stark gallery.
What can we expect from the Launch this Friday, besides the advertised pineapples and popsicles?
AW: We have JAMIE MYKAELA, who’s mostly new to this scene, with Lyndon Blue’s LEAFY SUBURBS and CRAIG MCELHINNEY. We’re opening a new exhibition from artist Claire Pendrigh. We’ve got Abdul Abdullah, a local artist and incredible painter, opening the Common Room, and we’ve got a special announcement involving him on the night. I’m really looking forward to everyone coming down and seeing what we’ve done with the space – I’ve got paint in my hair still from so many late nights working on this place. It’s just exciting to finally show people.
The Common Room Launch is this Friday the 29th of November, 6-9 pm, at Paper Mountain on William Street, Northbridge. Entry is free.
‘INTERVIEW: Paper Mountain’ by Richard Moore.