Vincent not in the swing

BUREAUCRATS and a door that swings the wrong way have put the future of a Leederville gallery for emerging artists in jeopardy.

Ink Remedy owner Rachel O’Shea has been looking at the same exhibition she hung for the Fringe World festival in January after Vincent council planners got in a tizz over her front door, which opens inwards. Because of a quirk in the city’s planning scheme, she’s been told that means she can’t hold openings, which are crucial for sales at an exhibition.

Looking down the street at the myriad of cafes and restaurants with their inwardly-opening doors, Ms O’Shea’s mouth visibly tightens: “If they can operate, why can’t I?” she ponders.

• Rachel O’Shea says she got a ticking off from Vincent council after expressing her frustrations about a slow planning application on social media. Photo by Steve Grant

She had suggested simply reversing the hinges on the doors so they swung outwards, but was told the footpath was council territory and it wasn’t permitted, while shelling out $10,000 for electronic sliding doors wasn’t justified given the low-cost aims of the gallery.

The impasse with the council has been going on for six months, and Ms O’Shea says she’s so frustrated she’s had to look at converting the gallery space into retail clothing or the like. She says that would be a great shame for Perth, because it was one of the biggest and most accessible of the few gallery spaces suitable for newcomers.

Just this week she turned away another artistic hopeful because her application to be deemed a public building seems to have been put in someone’s too-hard basket.

Ms O’Shea said before then the gallery had been successfully giving up-and-comers such as Clayton Popa (featured in last week’s Voice) four weeks in the spotlight. It’s flat $500 artist’s fee and no commissions had made it an affordable option for new artists.

“Some of them save up the $500, so it doesn’t matter so much if they don’t sell anything, although I think we’ve only had one exhibition where nothing sold,” says Ms O’Shea, whose tattoo parlour in the other side of the shop makes enough to support the gallery.

When Vincent’s planning department first decided the exhibition openings were a non-conforming use, Ms O’Shea was given a temporary permit to keep operating. But when her application went in, things ground to a halt.

She says her last three attempts to contact the council went unanswered; until she “had a rant” on a women-in-business social media website. It was apparently forwarded to the council, which Ms O’Shea claims resulted in a ticking off from a senior planner for going public.

Vincent council was contacted for comment.


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