Timba Smits is Realising His Dream

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Thursday 26 November 2009.

BELTRAN (TREXI) image Ghost Patrol image

Australian artist and provocateur Timba Smits, founder of Gorker Gallery and Wooden Toy Quarterly magazine, is a 2009 recipient of the British Council Australia Realise Your Dream grant, which provided him with cash to cover expenses whilst visiting the UK to show case local Australian art and design talent. He agreed to a quick interview to let us know what he's up to over there.

When did you start Gorker Gallery and why?

Gorker Gallery started in June 2008 when a good friend of mine and fellow artist Nate Holes Trapnell introduced me to Luke Mathews (director) who owned the lease on an amazing warehouse space in sunny Fitzroy, Melbourne. We got together, took a look around, had a few beers, talked some shit and 2 months later we opened the rollerdoors to Gorker Gallery with our debut show “The Forty Thieves” featuring a group show by 40 international street and fine artists. The rest is history in the making.

From the very get go we wanted to create a new space built strong and consistent through it’s design, branding and its artist values. A space that would hopefully succeed in becoming one of Melbourne’s most respected and leading contemporary art galleries. Our focus: on setting goals high in harbouring relationships with the right artists and promoting the gallery to the right audience of forward thinking individuals and groups interested in cutting edge art and design.

What model does the gallery fit into, is it commercial, ARI, hybrid, other?

Gorker Gallery ultimately walks that fine line between a commercial gallery space on the outside looking in but definitely an artist-run and community loving gallery on the inside looking out. Its values are rich in treating its artists with the utmost integrity and respect, supporting them through their growth with a promise of presenting their work in a professional manner to both local and international audiences of enthusiastic art collectors and design aficionados.

Who are the top selling Australian street artists? How much is their work going for?

At home in Melbourne we have artists such as Meggs, James Reka, Nior and Ghostpatrol doing really amazing things for the scene in Australia with their work via exhibitions selling for around 1-3k. But sales are not always a true measure of success in this game. We also have artists such as Japanese born Twoone who, rather than focusing on the sale of his work, is proactively pushing the envelope with a new style of street art meets installation art. The kind of raw forward-thinking talent that you know is going to be worth a lot in a few years time.

Then, at the higher end of the spectrum you have artists like Mark Whalen (Kill Pixie) working in LA and Anthony Lister living and working in New York who are at the top of their game, exhibiting their work in sell out international shows with work priced anywhere from 5-25k.

Why did you start Wooden Toy Quarterly?

I’ve always loved making art and design and magazines about art and design, so I believe it was only natural that one day I would start up a publication about art and design (haha). Enter Wooden Toy Quarterly! But… I also started Wooden Toy Quarterly for a couple of other reasons including the strong desire to catalog the amazing talent and people that I cross paths with on a daily basis, and as a platform of opportunity for emerging artists, designers and photographers to showcase their work and get noticed. This is something that I am passionate about and proactive in through helping the larger community as a whole via workshops, lectures and career opportunities for young designers. It’s also an ongoing experiment in challenging the thought of ‘What is a magazine?’, setting trends and pushing the boundaries of editorial design worldwide.

Which artists are you showing in the UK, and which gallery?

While I’m in the UK, I will be co-hosting an exhibition of Melbourne street artists with the support of Thames & Hudson at the prestigious Black Rat Press Gallery (London) for the launch of a book I’m currently art Directing called “Street/Studio: Contemporary Urban Art from Melbourne”. The Exhibition and book will feature ten of Melbourne’s most talented, prominent and influential street artists including Ghostpatrol, Miso, Nails, Tai Snaith, Al Stark, Ash Keating, Mic Porter, Tom Civil, Twoone and the Everfresh Crew feat Meggs, James Reka, Phibs and Rone. It’s going to be H U G E!

Who are your favourite artists and why?

Ah hah, this is always a difficult question to answer and one that I will never be able to fully respond to. The thing is the world is full of amazing artists with new kids arriving on the platform each and every day, each talented in their own special and unique way. I would have hundreds of favourites each for something completely different and therefor could not just name a certain few. As cliché as it may sound, I just love art and that is my favourite.





Thanks Timba!