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Silk House ARt Projects (SHARP)

Exhibition Space

Property Donor: The GPT Group

Launched: 6 Apr 2009

Closed: 7 Nov 2009

Shop 1, Silk House, 200 Hunter St, Newcastle 2300

Sat 10am – 5pm

Contact: Penny Thwaite e: [email protected]

UPDATE November 2009

The SilkHouseARtProjects have ended their cycle in the shopfront in Hunter St Mall. You may see Penny’s work in the future in other interesting spaces across the city, as part of the Renew Newcastle initiative.

SilkHouseARtProjects (SHARP) developed out of the need of site-specific installation artists to take advantage of the rare spaces and rare opportunities that become available for site-specific installation art. It is artwork that genuinely takes into account the space, venue and/or location as part of the overall design of the piece.

Silk House will host a series of site-specific exhibitions from mid-May to mid-October, 2009. The artists involved are Nicholas Beckett, Ryszard Dabek, Helen Hyatt-Johnston, Jane Polkinghorne, Penny Thwaite and Matthew Tome. Their practices range from drawing to painting, sculpture, multi-media, sound and photography, and the works will encompass the idea of using the space, or venue, as an integral part of the work.

The venue will – in some instances – function as a studio as the work is created; at times it will be an exhibition venue, and at other times as a shop. Thanks to the unique design of the Silk House spaces, there will be 24hr viewing via the windows which face north and south and offer a vista through the venue. We will also have an artist on site Saturdays from 10am to 5pm from May 16th, 2009.

Tell us about Silk House. 

The space seems never to have been used since the renovation of the building and is a rather blank concrete box. This is good, means that there an openness about it and what we can do in it. Also the glass doors and walls at each end means that we can make the work for 24 hr

Penny Thwaite, Curator

My background is as a sculptor, performance and installation artist and printmaker, trained at East Sydney Tech in the late ‘80s and at Sydney College of the Arts in the early ‘90s. Since then I have exhibited occassionally, co-managed an artist-run gallery, First Draft(west) in its Annandale, Sydney site, worked as the Administrator and Eventspace curator at The Performance Space in Redfern, Sydney and moved to Newcastle in 2004.

When Renew Newcastle began to develop momentum, I realised that as an artist who needed interesting spaces to work in, and spaces that were low rent (because installation is not a selling practice), I better get involved. I saw this as an opportunity, not only for myself, but for other experimental and installation artists who had similar needs. I became interested in curating and organising art projects for this project, and in wanting to see more installation art in Newcastle. As such, I invited artists to be involved who I knew could deliver and had a practice sympathetic to the notion of a short term experimental venue.


Exhibition 5: Wet Walls presented by the Twilight Girls 12 September – 9 October 2009

Exhibition 4: DREAMS THAT MONEY CAN”T BUY 01 – 22 August 2009 a film/sound/text project featuring: dissimilitude a film/sound installation by Ryszard Dabek; and groeten uit zandvoort a text/object by i.j.oog. For more information on Ryszard Dabek and his work see

Exhibition 3: USED A bookshop created by Nicholas Beckett. 04 -10 July 2009

Exhibition 2: SKINNED 01 – 13 June 2009 Penny Thwaite has a background in sculpture, installation and performance. She often produces works with a theatrical or performative element. Her exhibition, Skinned, is an open studio, ‘happening’ and installation project, created on site at the gallery. Come to ‘the Peel’ 5pm-6pm Sat June 13. Help Penny peel off the latex mould that she has made of the interior walls of the space. The gallery has 24hr viewing through its north and south facing windows plus the space is open and an artist is present Saturdays from 10am-5pm.

Exhibition 1: MATTHEW TOME 13-30 May, 2009 Matthew Tome is an artist and Head Teacher of Fine Art at Newcastle Art School, Hunter TAFE. This exhibition will include an installation – basically a large drawing in the space – which is part construction and image. The construction is a series of plywood walls on which I am drawing in charcoal. The drawings are based on various images from Palermo and Naples and I will be developing them over the next week or so up until the exhibition opens. The work is titled “The wrong side of the world”.