Acid Test is a local recurring art show designed to showcase emerging artists in an inspiring and supportive space on the Gold Coast.
“The message is to remind everyone to have a forward focus and to support local businesses, and that we can all do something.” This was from Helle, co-founder of Acid Test, just a couple of hours before the news broke of new COVID-19-related regulations that would bring the live arts scene to its knees.
We were chatting about their second, and even more successful music and art showcase event Acid Test Vol II, which ran on 14 and 15 March at their studio space, Level 1 Seventeen in Nerang. The nurturing of our artists, and this message, is now even more important.
Helle and her brother and business partner Geoff both understand the struggle of making it as an artist even in the best of times. She’s in fine art and he’s a musician.
“We both found the industry could be competitive and unsupportive,” Helle explains. “We created Acid Test to give emerging artists a safe space to exhibit their work, many of them for the first time.”
The inaugural Acid Test event was in December and attracted nine artists, seven of whom had never exhibited before. The March event brought 22 artists together and at least three of those were first timers, with a couple more doing their second show.
This jump in participation was also reflected by general public attendance – the launch party had five times and the general exhibition four times the attendees than the first.
“Every metric went up,” says Helle. “Including sales.”
Part of the uptick in sales can be attributed to the fact that the artists are encouraged to attend the event, to meet the public and even create whilst there. Acid Test has brought together artists from all creative mediums; musicians, fine art, photography and more. Helle recalls one of the on-the-spot collabs.
“In the March Acid Test, a photographer had a last minute inspiration to bring in a designer friend and do a live pop up fashion shoot of the designs.
“As the model was being photographed, another artist who was doing a live performance decided to draw the model on the spot as she was in his field of vision.”
This collaboration and cross-pollination is one of the brilliant side benefits of Acid Test.
For the public, watching art being created makes it more accessible, says Helle. It shows that “art doesn’t have to be snooty”, that art makes life a beautiful experience.
“Even getting a coffee can be artistic, surfboards are art, it’s everywhere around us,” exclaims Helle.
Acid Test is unique also in that it is not curated. Helle says their company Molten Agency organises the event but it really self-selecting. She put the call out on social media for artists to participate, then once details are given to interested artists they either commit or not.
“I love the equity in the process,” she tells us.
The plan is to continue these events at Level 1 Seventeen with the next one originally slated for June, however that may change dates or form depending on the current situation.
The Acid Test event encourages participants from as far south as Byron and as far north as Brisbane. The next Acid Test will ideally have workshops and classes for the public to attend.
Helle and Geoff, and the art community on the Gold Coast are working together to keep the scene alive, and who better to come up with solutions to current issues than the creatives? In the meantime, support your local artists and local businesses in general in whatever way you can.
IMAGE (C) Max Wenke