The Tacit we know today had its genesis in late 2009. Tim’s Abbotsford studio at 323 Johnston St became a full-time gallery when his partner, Keith, became a freelance writer. Able to sit and write anywhere, the one gallery-Tacit Contemporary Art opened its doors in June 2010.
The gallery ticked along – demand was there and the schedule quickly filled: Keith by day with Tim as the curator alongside his full-time teaching position.
But a chance meeting changed the direction of the gallery. Calling in at the IGA a few doors down Johnston St, Tim bumped into the real estate agent for 312 Johnston St. A building that had stood empty for many months, Tim asked to look inside. A quick text to Keith across the road suggesting he put a ‘back in 5 mins’ sign on the door – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Almost a completely empty shell internally, ‘the boys’ as they have become known, made a few quick calculations, made a virtual build on Mac software and decided to take the plunge. Just as many other galleries were closing, Tacit expanded. Initially 5 galleries, doing it themselves, the build took just 6 weeks. They had no choice! Having given notice on the single gallery premises, they had a whole year of exhibitions scheduled. Persuading all the booked artists to move with them (no mean feat as there was little to show other than plans on paper for the artists in the early part of the year), the new premises were launched with their now annual group print show Editions.
With queues forming out the door and an estimated 600 people attending that first night in February 2013, Tacit Contemporary Art as a multi-gallery venue was auspiciously launched.
Fine-tuning over the last 5 years has seen Tacit increase to six galleries and two project spaces – and, importantly, without reducing the size of the earlier galleries. And over that same time period, they have established a respected name for themselves. More than 400 artists in solo or group shows have been exhibited to date – local, regional, interstate and international – and more than 40,000 people (as of Nov 2017) have attended exhibitions. Importantly for artists, Tacit regularly attracts 250-300 people to Opening Nights and have sold some 1,000 artworks with a value of more than $650,000.
Alongside exhibitions, the educational aspect of the work is important, reflecting those early days of Tacit in Thornbury as part of the Melbourne School of Art. An important part of Tacit’s remit is to present artists at the early stages of their careers, with Tim in particular working closely with the artists to develop their work towards an exhibition. The new premises will provide new opportunities – as well as a mentoring program, an education program is being developed along with an increased potential for workshops, lectures and discussion groups.
TJ Bateson BA (Fine Art), GradDip (Visual Art), BT (Hons), MA (Fine Art)
Tim has more than 25 years experience as an exhibiting artist, curator and arts educator – and a whole slew of related qualifications from all five of the main Victorian Universities.
From studying in Bendigo in the early 90s at La Trobe through to his recent MA (Fine Art) at RMIT, Tim has immersed himself in expanding his knowledge and art practice, including collecting the Alice Taylor Memorial Prize at the University of Melbourne – the only artist to date to do so.
He became the owner/director of Melbourne School of Art (MSA) in 2000 based in Elsternwick, a private TAFE that offered a range of qualifications from certificates to diplomas. The School employed more than 50 full and part-time educators providing classes seven days a week. During this time, Tacit Contemporary Art was established at the new Thornbury campus – a venue aimed primarily at students, teachers and MSA alumni to exhibit their work.
Alongside a spell of teaching art in state and private schools and working as a freelance photographer, Tim’s art practice continued to thrive, seeing him invited to present solo exhibitions at the City of Glen Eira Gallery and Horsham Regional Gallery as well as collaborate with performance artist Hellen Sky on the Arts Council inter-art grant funded Darker Edge of Night project. He became the curator and visual arts convenor of the Midsumma Festival (2009-11), expanding the program to record-levels of local, regional, national and international artists.
Having closed in 2004, Tacit Contemporary Art was revived at the end of 2009 in conjunction with his partner, Keith Lawrence.
In choosing to focus full-time on his art practice, Tacit and related activities over the last three years, Tim has been invited to sit on various Creative Victoria funding panels, act as a consultant on government-funded training programs and completed his MA. His art practice has also gone from strength to strength, with invitations to exhibit in group exhibitions in regional galleries, seeing his work exhibited in Tasmania, Queensland and NSW as well as reaching the shortlists of several significant art prizes, including The Silk Cut Print Award and The Hutchins Works on Paper Prize. He is one of the 10 selected printmakers for the Print Council of Australia’s 2017 Print Commission – the scheme’s 50th anniversary, launched nationally in August.
Launched by Euan Heng in July 2017, a 30 year retrospective, Pause II by TJ Bateson, opened the new Collingwood premises.
Keith Lawrence BA (Hons)
Originally from the UK, Keith has been in Australia for 14 years (all in Melbourne) and has worked in the arts for more than 30.
Experience includes Community Arts Officer for the London Borough of Southwark and Artistic Director of London’s Lilian Baylis Theatre @ Sadler’s Wells before being appointed, in 1994, the first Drama & Dance specialist to the British Council.
Based in London and responsible for promoting British drama and dance overseas, his program was a mix of performance and education/training. On the one hand, Keith would produce international tours of British contemporary dance and theatre companies (eg Rambert Dance to Argentina, Royal National Theatre to Lisbon, Istanbul and Thessaloniki) or initiate and support pan-continental exchanges, collaborations and workshop programs.
He was posted to Tel Aviv in 1997 as the British Cultural Attache where he developed and implemented British cultural policy in Israel. To his extensive knowledge of drama and dance, he added music, film, literature and the visual arts to his working experience. He is the founder of the annual multi-city British Film Season, a key player in the establishment of the annual Dance Europa and facilitated the presentation of such significant exhibitions as Yinke Shonibare (Israel Museum, Jerusalem), No World Without You (Herzliya Museum of Art) and Uri Gersht (Helena Rubenstein Pavilion, Tel Aviv).
Almost six years later, he was enticed to Australia to establish the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange where his first project was to produce the private collection of Gabrielle Pizzi – a massive project - travelling to Jerusalem. Entitled Mythology and Reality, it was the first such exhibition of Indigenous Australian art to travel not only to Israel but the Middle East in general. The same exhibition was to find a home at Heide as a memorial to Gabrielle on her passing.
Initiating and producing film festivals in both Israel and Australia (and, having gone freelance at a later date, taking on the artistic director’s position), editing a cultural magazine (Rhapsody) as well as supporting dance companies, music ensembles and festivals were part of the brief of AICE. He remained Executive Director for six years until deciding to undertake a freelance career in writing – although, having made that decision, he remained involved in the activities of AICE on a project basis. In addition to the film festivals and writing for Rhapsody, Keith took on the part-time role of Executive Director of the Australia Israel UK Leadership Program (AIUKLP), finding himself immersed once more in the heady world of politics.
As a British diplomat in Israel, direct personal contact with prime ministers, presidents and ministers was part of the territory. AICE continued such political links: AIUKLP even more so. He organised a summit in Jerusalem between some 50 ministers, politicians and journalists from all three countries across party political divides alongside a cultural program.
It was therefore something of a relief to return to normality and focus first on that freelance writing (clients included Palace Cinemas, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Film Art Media, Melbourne International Film Festival and Melbourne International Jazz Festival) and, with the decision to expand into the multi-gallery premises, finally Tacit!