Making space for community creatives
inspirational jewish-themed artwork by local talent

Making space for community creatives

East Melbourne shule to be transformed into space for artists to display their work during renovations.

"Riffing on the Aleph'' by Fay Abromwich (left) and "Queen Gladys" by Ruth Wein.
"Riffing on the Aleph'' by Fay Abromwich (left) and "Queen Gladys" by Ruth Wein.

RECOGNISING the plight of local artists during the pandemic who had their exhibitions cancelled or put on hold for months at a time, Rabbi Dovid Gutnick of East Melbourne Shule decided he was going to create a solution.

Rabbi Gutnick approached four artists from his community with the idea of using the Victor Smorgon Community Hall as an exhibition space while the shule is being renovated.

After making the suggestion, he let the newly-formed curatorial committee run with the initiative, called Shul Art Space (SAS).

Committee members Fay Abromwich, Ruth Wein, Babs Rapeport and Robyn Bardas have taken up the responsibility of managing the space as a pop-up contemporary gallery for practicing artists.

They have managed to get the space up and running almost immediately and have reported that their initial call-out in the shule newsletter attracted more than enough artists to fill the space for the year.

The opening exhibition is Abromwich’s Riffing on the Aleph – an exploration of the letter Aleph.

“This body of work is ink on paper and allows for a creative interpretation of Aleph, the first letter of the Jewish alphabet,” Abromwich explained.

“As I worked on this series, I have pondered on how letters and words evolve through time, no matter the language.”

Bardas, who has created long pieces of artworks, explained, “My horizon is not your horizon, because my eye level is not yours. The horizon line tells us where we are in the world. It leads us through time and possibility.”

Locate.Horizon.Line by artist Robyn Bardas.

SAS’s instagram page, @shulartspace, will also be used to show current exhibitions.

The exciting new space also has a number of art shows already planned for next year, including the work of Israeli artists Lederberg and Avi-Noah, Melbournians Moishie and Babs Rapeport, Aloma Treister, Ruth Wein and Robyn, Elli and Ben Bardas.

A special community group exhibition is also being planned.

Rabbi Gutnick said, “Shules have historically been places of diverse expression: prayer and Torah learning, but also art, culture, culinary, welfare and social experiences.”

He was excited to see the “inspirational, Jewish-themed artwork from some of our wonderful local talent”.

“Like everything in life this is a bit of an adventure, but we are excited to see our spaces used by our community and for the community,” Rabbi Gutnick commented. “This is the least we can do at a time when artists have been so stressed and starved of opportunity”.

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Shule Art Space is open Sundays and Wednesdays from 11am-4pm by appointment.

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