Dean Cogle knows the Gold Coast art scene. He’s been working as an artist here for most of his life. Once operating a gallery in Burleigh called the Departure Lounge, he now has a studio space upstairs in an old warehouse on Currumbin Creek Road.
He’s busy the day I visit and it’s hot up there too. We chat over the grind of an industrial fan blowing hot air from one end of the room to the other and there’s a lumbering dog at our feet trying to convince us to throw a ball.
Dean is editing biographies and pulling together the details for a special exhibition which will feature 25 local artists. It’s the first exhibition of its type at the Dust Temple, which is quickly finding its place in the Gold Coast’s burgeoning arts and indie music scene.
“It’s a group portrait exhibition,” Dean says proudly and then goes on to tell me that this will hopefully be an annual event. “It’s open to all media – sculpture, photography, mixed media, painting and pencil.”
As well as co-curating the event, Dean is also exhibiting two pieces himself. One of them hangs on the wall behind us. I ask him about it.
“That’s a model for Valley Eyewear, a local manufacturing business. And that’s basically an image taken from a photo I took looking into their office. She’s a local model whose mum has had a history of screen printing and being involved in companies like Byrning Spears.”
Most of the artists that will show off their work are from the Gold Coast, though they may have come here via other places. But why the focus on portraits?
“I’ve always been quite interested in portraiture,” Dean said. “Being kind of a semi-realistic painter myself.”
“A lot of people are coming back to doing portraits – I think it’s a good theme to put to an exhibition here.”
As well as showcasing the portraiture of local artists, the exhibition’s opening night, 11 April will include live entertainment and refreshments. And the exhibition will run for four weeks.
“We’ve called it Expressions of Interest,” Dean said. Then he goes on to list the credentials of some of the participating artists. “There’s a few of them that are tattoo artists. A couple of them have been in the graphics design industry. Some of them have had different arts-related industry involvement – film, printing, graphic design, photography. And, airbrushing in the surfing industry on surfboards and things like that.”
“And we’ve got a range of artists at different stages of their career,” Dean said. He also mentioned how crucial events like this are for supporting people at those different stages.
“You kind of get people who come out of the woodwork who wouldn’t normally come out because portraiture suits the art that they do,” he explained. “And then some people who like to apply themselves to a theme as a creative challenge. It also brings attention to new people about the venue itself.”
Bec Cunningham (pictured above with Dean Cogle) is another artist who will have work shown in the exhibition. Her artist statement for the event says “I paint, I sculpt and I make bad jokes and grammatical errors.” She’s featured in Blank before and is a hard-working artist, also with a studio upstairs at the venue.
Speaking of the venue, it seems to me that the Dust Temple has filled a void for the southern Gold Coast and its art and cultural communities. Dean agrees. “I’ve seen it quite a solid kind of groundswell of creativity on the GC, particularly in the last decade. I’ve been involved with art here for three and a half decades,” he said.
There are a number of artists working upstairs at the Dust Temple and the team who manage Swell Sculpture Festival also call the place home. And for the brief time I’m there, the owners Isla and John are busy either behind the counter making coffee or sweating (did I mention it was hot) through repair and installation work.
“The Dust Temple has already made a fairly significant impact on the arts scene and particularly in Currumbin Valley – a semi-industrial area,” Dean said. “We’ve had CD launches, product launches, surf-boards, photographic exhibitions related to local businesses, and been involved with Swell, Bleach.”
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Expressions of Interest portrait exhibition, co-curated by Dean Cogle and John Wilson opens at the Dust Temple, Currumbin Creek Road from 11 April.
Feature image by Leisen Standen | Lamp Photography