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Studio A, Growth Through Art

A Sydney-based social enterprise that makes great art, and tackles the barriers artists with intellectual disability face in accessing conventional education, professional development pathways and opportunities needed to become successful and renowned visual artists.

Studio A is driven to ensure artists with intellectual disabilities have a voice in contemporary Australian culture and to provide employment to their artists through sustainable creative industry careers. Supported by Studio A, their artists are exhibiting and selling work, receiving commissions, licensing their intellectual property and working with leading companies in the commercial and arts sectors.

The Studio A program is structured to operate as a social enterprise, meaning revenue derived from the program’s activities is invested back into the program to increase its artistic and social outcomes. Income derived from the sale and exhibition of artwork directly benefits the artist. We sat down with Karla, Communications Manager, to learn more:

How long have you guys been operating? Where did it all begin?

Upon experiencing a recreational art program for adults with disability, Gabrielle Mordy (Studio A CEO/Artistic Director) and Emma Johnston (Studio A Principal Artist) were wowed by the artistic talents displayed by certain participants. Despite the high quality of art being produced, for even the most dedicated artists opportunities to professionalise their talents did not exist.

Historically excluded from attending tertiary institutions and exhibiting in cultural institutions, the mainstream arts sector has been inaccessible terrain for artists with disability. Mordy and Johnston were motivated to change this. Inspired by supported studio models established in London, New York and San Francisco, they began to develop projects and initiatives to allow artists with disability to achieve their artistic and professional potential.

Studio A is now a leading Australian supported studio, operating with a dedicated team of artists, staff, art facilitators and volunteers since 2016. Over the years, we have continued to grow our capacity to create wider social change by securing milestone projects and commissions, engaging wider audiences and challenging stereotypes associated with disability.

What sort of support & programs do you offer?

Studio A provides a full time professional development service to our stable of artists with a working studio space equipped with specialist materials and support-staff. We support the creative development of their artwork & the range of management services necessary to market their work. We match our artists strengths with contemporary artists/creatives who have complimentary skills.

Along with the production of artwork Studio A delivers an exhibition series, public engagement program & manages the sale & delivery of a range of creative services including the lease, licensing & commission of artworks.

Have you always been based around 2065? What is special about the Crows Nest community?

We have been located in Crows Nest since 2018. Our artists have always felt welcome and part of the community - this friendly attitude and openness toward diversity makes it a very accessible postcode. The North Sydney Council along with Denise, Graham and their team at the Crows Nest Centre have provided a wonderful working environment for our artists and they have made lots of friends in and around the centre.

The output of our studio has grown considerably over the years and so has the scale of the work we produce. This unfortunately means that we have outgrown the sunny top-level space of the Crows Nest Centre. The great news is that we are not moving far, we will still be in 2065, having found new premises in St. Leonards! So we are happy to say we will still be part of the lovely community that has embraced us over the past 5 years.

How can the local community get involved and support Studio A?

There are lots of ways! Purchase artwork and design products, commission an artist, license artwork, donate, volunteer, visit our exhibitions, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and join our mailing list!

Studio A: Artist Showcase

Damian Showyin, artist, and the incredible talent that created our Front Cover image.

● How long have you been an Artist, Damian?

I’ve been an artist a long time. More than 20 years. I have been painting, drawing, weaving, and hand sewing.

● What do you like about working at Studio A?

It’s lots of fun. Because I like my artwork so much, and painting. I have fun with everybody. I have lots of friends at Studio A that make me feel happy. I like painting in different colours it makes me feel happy.

● What has been your favourite work so far?

I have made so many it is hard to remember. I’ve got lots of favourites. I love painting in acrylic and watercolour most at the moment.

● Where can the public see your art?

You can see my art online on the Studio A website and Google Arts & Culture. My art is also part of a big Studio A mural at UTS Central. Next year I will have an exhibition at Mosman Art Gallery.

● Triangle Cards is a beautiful piece, what motivated you to create that?

The colours of the paint inspired me. I have been painting lots on cardboard, it’s fun. I use brushes on the cardboard. I think it looks good.

● Was there a meaning behind the colours used?

Dark blue and pink and orange. I just use what is there, what I like.

● Are you working on anything at the moment?

Yes. Making artwork for Mosman Art Gallery. I have an exhibition there in May. I’ll be doing a painting there on the wall. I’m excited about it. I have been playing with the boxes. Trying different things. I can’t wait for next year.

You can learn more about Studio A here:


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