There are few Gold Coast events more highly anticipated than the official opening of the long-awaited HOTA Gallery in May 2021.
The inaugural exhibition, ‘Solid Gold: Artists from Paradise’, is set to be a dazzling affair, flaunting as it will the creative talents of 19 of Gold Coast’s most exciting artists and their wholly original works.
Bringing together such a spectacle is no mean feat, and the curatorial team at the HOTA gallery have been pulling out all the stops behind the scenes to ensure an opening that will be long and fondly remembered.
We spoke with Bradley Vincent, who is leading the group of curators currently working on ‘Solid Gold’, and found out a little bit more about his professional journey, as well as a few more hints about what we can expect from the inaugural show of the country’s largest regional gallery.
With all eyes on the gallery in the lead up to its opening, I firstly wonder if Bradley is feeling the pressure at all.
“There’s nothing like 19 great artists making beautiful work to give you a sense of confidence,” he tells me.
“I think pressure’s fine. It’s a big stage, but it’s one that’s been coming for a long time.”
Bradley was born and raised on the Gold Coast, but spent a decade of his adulthood in Sydney, first studying and then working in the Arts on a range of projects. When he heard about the redevelopment of the HOTA precinct, he moved home to be on the ground floor of the project, landing a role as curator of Public Art and Outdoor Programming more than two years ago.
“It was great to have that basis in the outdoors at HOTA to give me an idea of the precinct,” Bradley says. “But my background has largely been working inside gallery walls – it’s what I know the best – so when the opportunity for the curator role came up with the focus on indoor work, it was the role I’ve always wanted, and I was so thrilled to be given the opportunity.”
So, where to start on a project of this significance to our city? Bradley said the team was determined to have the show be artist-led, a theme that has emerged time and time again since the precinct re-branding.
“We are really proud to have done this first exhibition as an open call out to Gold Coast artists,” enthuses Bradley.
“Rather than us sitting here and picking and choosing who to be in the show based on who we already know, we wanted to find out who is out there that we don’t know.
“There are people of all generations making art across the city. We had over 300 people respond, and it just made us think ‘Wow, look at the diversity of practice in the city. Let’s commit to the show representing that diversity’.”
And that’s just what they’ve done. In ‘Solid Gold’, artists in their twenties will display proudly against artists in their sixties. Some of the artists will be experiencing their first institutional showing, alongside artists with established international reputations. But one and all will be pushing the boundaries of their practice.
“We asked the artists to be ambitious, and they really have been,” Bradley laughs. “Some works are more straightforward than others, and some works – technically speaking – push the capabilities of us as curators and of the building itself. And that’s what we wanted to do.
Contemporary art is a big and varied thing”
As for whether or not he has a favourite piece at this stage, Bradley gives the kind of diplomatic response you expect from someone experienced in dealing with creative sensibilities.
“I’m so excited about how they will all look when they’re brought together into one room,” he enthuses.
“When people see it I hope they understand, the way it’s designed is to say ‘look at all of these works, and how they’re all equal’. We talk a lot about the show being democratic, so to choose a favourite at this stage would be pretty wrong!” He laughs again.
Of course, ‘Solid Gold’ is just the first in what promises to be an eclectic and exciting series of exhibitions and events at the shiny new HOTA Gallery, arguably the centrepiece of the coast’s colourful new cultural precinct. Bradley has high hopes for the space moving forward.
“I feel like [the gallery] really is a game changer,” he declares.
“An exhibition is sure about the artists, but at some point it becomes about the audience and what the experience can do for or to them. I think the opportunity to come and see world class exhibition-making in their own city is something for Gold Coasters to be really proud of.
We see ourselves as an outdoors place – sport, surfing, bushwalking – all of that is part of our identity. And there’s long been this circle of artists here, and now this platform means that that part of the city can grow.
The HOTA team is determined to keep the entire precinct a space that contains something for everyone, Bradley assures us.
“This gallery is for the Gold Coast,” he states. “It’s for ALL of the Gold Coast, and it’s really important to us that everyone feels at home in the building; that it’s not some ivory tower or some place for hushed veneration. It’s a place that could become a real social hub.
“Galleries are so much more than just exhibitions. They’re places to come and see art, and have lunch and a have a drink with a friend and do workshops. And on this amazing site it’s also a place to go watch a movie, see a show and swim in the lake. It has something for a whole day out, and it’s for all of us to come and enjoy.”
Until the space is officially opened to the public, we must turn to our calendars as they gradually count down to the 8 May opening of ‘Solid Gold’. Bradley is eager for Gold Coasters to finally experience the results of so much planning, talent and hard work.
“I think they’ll find this first show is a real wonderland,” he declares.
We can’t wait.
HOTA will be throwing open the doors of its brand new gallery on 8 May 2021, with the opening of ‘Solid Gold: Artists from Paradise’, which will run until 4 July 2021. For more information on what’s going to be happening at the HOTA Gallery, visit hota.com.au.