Moving On Up - Michael Reid

Moving On Up

As an old Comrade, Gough Whitlam once said, It’s time

The Sydney gallery is growing in artists, turnover, colleagues and standing; the gallery desperately needed to relocate. Having looked at real estate for about a year, we took a COVID as an opportunity and stumbled upon a new, much larger, very smart, 500 square metre home in Chippendale. We moved-in over October.

Now there will be those out there that tell you moving is a most stressful time. It is not. You throw your colleagues and resources at the move and – if you are me – you stay in Murrurundi where I live – until way after the Sydney team has done all the very hard work. Moving Tip #1: turn up after it’s done. 

We moved premises in Sydney simply because we need the space, but in Berlin, where another of my galleries is located, the Germans move to REINVIGORATE. Berlin is the European centre for showcasing contemporary art. There are literally many, many hundreds of art spaces amidst a population of 3.5 million people and what German art gallerists do in terms of serial relocating, is an interesting idea worth knowing of.

Berlin is a decentralised city. Ambitiously re-built after the war – as folklore would have it – to accommodate a vast population in its future role as the second centre of World Communism after Moscow. The vision was never realised but, the result is a city that has never felt cramped – there are extraordinary space opportunities across Berlin, still. 

Using that available space, the Berlin galleries form like-minded Collectives and every five years or so, the collectives will up and move to a new area of Berlin. A few years ago, Potsdamer Platz was “in”. Then that crowd up and lifted overnight to Tempelhof. Why? well yes rents were cheaper but not that much. What the Berliner contemporary art galleries do is move to re-energise their business. 

New space brings new energy, and new ideas. New ways of showing art and hosting clients. New reasons for events and visits. They move spaces to renovate their art offerings (some artists are asked to move and other artists are not). Old stockrooms are refreshed. Artists are energised by the vision of showing in a new context. Moving may well be stressful for the Berlin gallerist, to mix things up is healthy for a whole host of reasons.

In Sydney, we gallerists tend to dig in and hold on to our real estate, through tooth and claw. I get it, Sydney real estate is world-expensive. So, you stay if you can. Having acknowledged this, there is much to ponder on the Berlin experience; to embrace moving a business as the kindling of a new fire. Embrace moving as a chance to shed one’s identity skin and re-emerge renewed. With our Sydney gallery move to Chippendale, my colleagues and I grasp the relocation as a Movin’ On Up.

– Michael Reid OAM

October 2021