About Our Studio
I remember looking at the empty warehouse, there was rubbish and dust everywhere. It was hard to convince anyone that this space could be anything more than a demolition site. I was about 22 at the time (2002) I divided the space up into 22 open studios. The first year was very hard. We had trouble filling the studios and the people we were getting were difficult and hardly ever in their space. I always dreamt of a hard working and productive studio
After about year the Studios started to develop a personality.
A number of street artists had taken up studios as well as many research artists. It was a true blend of artists. With different beliefs, creed and socio-economic backgrounds and educations.
It was at this time that the name ‘Blender Studios’ was given. ‘We were sitting around having beers trying to come up with names, and James Dodd came up with Blender. It became a mission statement of sorts.’ The studios had become a blend of different artists, craftspeople and philosophies.
The studios began attracting an underground urban element, and in mid 2001 the Melbourne street art scene burst from its doors and onto the streets of Melbourne. ‘There was a real political element to the early Melbourne stencil scene. This was partly because of the US invasion of Iraq and I think that many of us young artist felt that we had no voice and that the Australian art scene had been hijacked by pretention.
The Blender Studios became the intellectual heart of the early Melbourne street movement. Research artists became highly influenced by the street movement, Many making it part of their common practice. It was here too, that the seed was planted, which would later lead to street artists taking a more commercial and research approach to their work.
‘It was an interesting time in Melbourne, Some nights there would be as many as 30 artists leaving the Blender with mops, rollers, cans everything.
The city was under siege. We owned the town. It was awesome.’ We would all work in the studio and at about 5 or 6pm as people finished work they would come over to the Blender to have a drink and make some art. And then everyone would hit the town. It was stencils, paste- ups and parties. It was a very different city back then.
In 2002 Regan Tamanui aka HA – HA, James Dodd Aka Dlux set up Early space inc. in Collingwood. This was run through the Blender Studios and was the first street art gallery in Australia. It set the scene for the commercial side of street art to take off. This was cemented in 2004-6 when Andy Mac (Citylights) assisted the National Gallery of Australia in the acquisition of a large selection of stencil and street work for its works on paper collection.
The Blender Studios continued as the centre of the Melbourne street and emerging contemporary art scene
Artists are encouraged to find exhibitions and push their research and work hard at their craft.
None of the studios are blocked off so that the Blender has become a great community of artists that help and support each other. This makes us a much stronger collective and community. The Studios are not for profit, it makes no money, it’s all about the art.
The studios are different now that we are older and don’t party all the time. It’s a good thing. We are more focused on our art and this has attracted serious artists. The street artists that occupy the space now are: Drewfunk, Darcy, Ruskidd, Heesco, Seb, Hancock, Man of Darkness, Junky Projects and HA HA.
Blender Studios still has a strong underground element We have set up the Melbourne Street Tours: a famous street artist gives the tour, it starts at Fed Square and works its way through the city to the Blender Studios. The tour helps open up the Studios to the public. And also helps fund the studios, keeps the rent down and is a way for artist to make some income to support their art practice.
We have also set up Dark Horse Experiment Gallery – a research gallery which aims to push the boundaries of contemporary art. The gallery aims to create a space and market for artist who may not get a chance to show in a commercial context. The gallery has been open for over five years and has had some great shows. From sell out shows to cutting edge exhibitions, performances and installations focusing on research and technology.
So the Blender has become more of an art complex an ideas factory where nearly anything goes. It is self- sustainable and tries to bring art to everyone. It is not elitist and everyone is always welcome.
Its always about the memories.