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Sawtooth ARI – artist run initiative in Launceston


Written by Emma Luimes

While there’s only a handful, artist run initiatives in Tasmania, they are a vibrant addition to the local arts landscape; regularly hosting events in both permanent and temporary sites. They support work from local, interstate and international contemporary artists, at all stages of their career.

Sawtooth ARI is cased in Launceston, as well as hosting the occasional pop-up exhibition, this artist run gallery showcases contemporary work from local, interstate and international artists. Director Patrick Sutczak talks to the Tasmanian Arts Guide about recent developments at Sawtooth.

What’s been going on at Sawtooth in the last few years?

In the last few years Sawtooth has introduced a number of changes. Two years ago, we took over the entire top floor of the building and opened up another gallery/pop-up space. That was branded @Sawtooth and gave us flexibility to have events and exhibitions outside our normal monthly program.

We created our first publication called the Sawtooth Annual. It featured several essays and photography from throughout the year at Sawtooth, as well as the entire 2013 exhibition program.

We also introduced the Sawtooth Writing Prize. The prize is designed to increase engagement in artists’ work through reviews and responses. Through the writing prize, we saw submissions from writers, poets, artists, and the general public.

Also this year, we created Portal@Sawtooth. The Portal is reserved exclusively for international video work and is designed to engage audiences with a global dialogue around media work. At present, Portal is being curated by artists living internationally.

What do you think is unique about Sawtooth?

I think Sawtooth is unique in that we are positioned between commercial galleries, the museum and university galleries, as well as other art spaces. We are the only ARI in the north of the state, which gives artists an opportunity to use Sawtooth as an outlet for experimental art and really showcase individual and collaborative practice.  Having an organisation like Sawtooth in Tasmania makes exhibiting so much more accessible for emerging (and established) artists who are not commercially represented. Sawtooth is really quite open to emergent art forms. And, as our audiences engage with the exhibition program throughout the year, we are contributing to the dialogue around contemporary arts practice. We do not exclusively program Tasmanian artists, and we are always active in attracting national and international artists. As Sawtooth is governed by a board, there are many voices ensuring that Sawtooth remains vibrant and progressive.

What’s coming up for Sawtooth in the New Year?

Apart from our regular exhibition program, we have opened up more gaps, of a week or more, to allow Sawtooth to be used for some exciting proposals such as dance, performance and music, to encompass as much contemporary practice as we can. We will also relaunch the writing prize and potentially a photography prize and also be looking to have more touring exhibitions across the state with our 2016 exhibitors. We will be heading into New Year maintaining the high quality and diversity of emerging and experimental art, while at the same time looking to develop new and exciting initiatives to engage audiences and raise the profiles of talented artists through exhibition, exposure and encouragement.

Article first published: 18 December 2015