Freo's View


Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on October 8, 2014

Round House 1



The Fremantle BATHERS BEACH ART PRECINCT  is one-year-old and has failed to do what it set out to do; activate the area. That only comes as a surprise to those naïve Councillors who came up with the flawed concept that artist studios would be huge attractors to the Freo community and tourists. They were never going to be and the small residential heritage Pilot’s Cottages were never going to attract top W.A. artists, simply because they are unsuitable and too dark for studios and too small for serious art galleries.

The BBAC is also always flawed because it tries to incorporate three significantly different areas. There is the top of Arthur Head at Captain’s Lane, the J Shed down at Bathers Beach, and Kidogo Arthouse at the Old Port Project. The historic significance of the area was ignored because some young Councillors decided it would be perfect for an arts precinct. It never was and never will be.

The only business that has worked up at Captain’s Lane is the Glen Cowans Photography Gallery, and one only has to walk in to see why. The place just oozes professionalism and class. This is as good a gallery as one can get in a tiny cottage, with great displays, furniture and outstanding photos, all printed and framed to very high quality. Wander next door though to the Wild Twig artist collective and one is in a different world. Yes, they try hard but they lack the style and class the Cowans gallery has.

Next door to that Mutima tried very hard and had a lovely gallery but their concept was bewildering because they also sold clothes. But at least they did have music and movie events that actually attracted new people to the area.

The Aboriginal Cultural Centre is also struggling to attract sufficient visitors’ numbers to warrant existence and I am not surprised about that. It was always just Wadjela-white people- patronising tokenism to put something as significant as our City’s indigenous centre in a shitty little residential cottage that formerly was the office of the harbour pilots. Our Nyoongar brothers and sisters deserve something much better and more prominent, in a better inner city location, and I feel sorry for the delightful Brendan Moore who is trying to make the Centre a success.

It shows how serious the City of Fremantle is about our Aboriginal Centre that the yearly funding for it is less than the money spent on the once a year four-hour Wardarnji Festival. Appalling!

J Shed at Bathers Beach has housed successful professional artists for over twenty years, so why was there suddenly the eagerness that sculptor Greg James and his artists in residence, and ceramic artist Jenny Dawson and her collaborating artists had to become performers, open to the public? These are professional business people who work throughout the year on public and private art projects worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but that was not good enough for those who don’t understand the arts industry.

The main attractor at Arthur Head is the Round House, our State’s oldest public building. More than 110,000 people come through the door there every year.

It is kept open by less than 40 Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides, who have an office, lunchroom, kitchen and toilet in a small cottage at Mrs Trivett Lane. These mainly elderly volunteers open the Round House-hail or shine-363 days of the year from 10.30 to 3.30 and fire the cannon at 1 pm, but that is not good enough for the COF officers who have told them that to get a new lease on the cottage they will have to share it and one of the rooms of the cottage needs to be activated and opened to the public. Why?!

Before the Bathers Beach Art Precinct started there was 24/7 activation of the area. The Harbour pilots did their day and night shifts, the Crookes family kids brought friends home from Lance Holt school to play on the grass, the family had friends over and barbeques and engaged with passing tourists. Many overseas visitors were introduced by the kids to our local bush tucker when the lilly pilly were in abundance.

The Fremantle Society held their meetings, let other organizations use the cottage, created heritage festival events at Arthur Head, community Boche nights, Australia Day fireworks BBQ, etc. and I lived there as the care-taker, but they, like the Crookes family and Fremantle Port Pilots, were not good enough for the City of Fremantle. The area needed to be reactivated with artists studios, and what a flawed concept that is.

Where are the activation events of BBAP? Where is the art market, why is Wardarnji not held up there but at the Fremantle Arts Centre, why are the community Boche nights in collaboration with FICRA not re-introduced?

Instead of activation of the area we now have a nightly ghost town up there that attracts anti-social behaviour. Most cottages are only open from 11-5 Thursday to Sunday, the Aboriginal Centre is not open on weekends, and on weekdays only from 9am to noon. On the long Queens Birthday weekend only the highly professional Glen Cowans Photo Gallery was open on the Monday, and of course the Round House.

Activation does not happen, it has to be inspired and organised and real money has to be spent by the City of Fremantle to make it work. Why not have a pop-up bar one evening a week as they do in Lemon Lane in Claremont, for example.

The one summer event that really and highly activates the area is the Saturday Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets. It attracts many thousands of people who are all loving it, and it is of course a private enterprise because at Freo Council they wait and see and do the same old, same old festivals each and every year, and none of these festivals embrace the west end of town with any significance.

I love art and I have been advocating for an indigenous centre in Freo for many years, but unfortunately the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is another one of Council’s  flawed ideas. And now the new silly idea is to put a live music venue and micro-brewery at J Shed. Yep, let’s ignore the heritage significance, yep, let’s ignore it is an art precinct, let’s now try an entertainment precinct instead. Do you have any more bright ideas, Freo-thought bubble-Council?

Roel Loopers

Disclosure: I am a volunteer guide at the Round House and also involved in the Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets.


Posted in art, fremantle by freoview on July 23, 2014

Fremantle ceramic artist Jenny Dawson will be collaborating with Nyoongar artist Sandra Hill on the $ 232,000.00 noisewall public artwork for Leach Highway, that will be erected between Weshpool and Abernethy roads.

The welcome to country artwork, that is required to be “eclectic and striking”, will be designed by Sandra Hill after consultation with Nyoongar elders, and will be made of laser cuts, words, painting, wooden panels, lights and ceramics.

J Shed at Bathers Beach will be the creative hub for the project, so a great promotion for the Bathers Beach Art Precinct.

Roel Loopers


Posted in art, fremantle by freoview on July 16, 2014

Arthur Head


Just an observation. The City of Fremantle claims that they have a long list of artists and arts organisations who want to move into the Bathers Beach Art Precinct, but the No 1 studio at J Shed has been empty for months, and it does not look exactly  as if anyone is in a hurry to move into the cottage at Captain’s Lane, vacated by Mutima Art, either. I hear the next door neighbours from the Wild Twig Gallery might want to take over that cottage as well.

To establish a decent art precinct at Arthur Head the city needs to be more selective about the quality of art they want to have up there. Mediocrity is not going to attract the masses, I fear, so pro-actively trying to get some top and well-established artists up on the heritage hill would be a very good way forward. What it needs is artists of the calibre of sculptor Greg James, photographer Glen Cowans, and ceramic artist Jenny Dawson, who are great assets to the Fremantle arts scene and the Bathers Beach Art Precinct.

Roel Loopers



Posted in art, fremantle by freoview on May 8, 2014

It is disappointing to hear that Mutima Arthouse on Arthur Head will be closing down because the City of Fremantle is unwilling to support them by reducing the rent for the former Pilot’s Cottage. The Bathers Beach Art Precinct(BBAP) was something Fremantle Council wanted to activate the area, but the City has done very little since to promote and support the precinct. There are only two signs at the Round House, but no signs around the city to promote the BBAP. There is no promotional brochure for it either, and  it would be interesting to find out how much or little the guides at the Visitors Centre know about Freo’s art precinct.

Established artists at Bathers Beach are doing fine, but that is because Greg James and Jenny Dawson don’t live from retail sales, but work on assignments for public art and private and corporate clients. Photographer Glen Cowans at Captains’ Lane has been there for years now and established himself, but the new artists are struggling.

The No 1 studio at J Shed has now been empty for over a month and the offer by Greg James to put art in that studio to make it look attractive has not been accepted by the City. Only they know why, because it makes little sense to have a vacant space there.

The Aboriginal Culture Centre, opened with a big fanfare, is a dud and very little is happening there, because the local Nyoongar artists show no interest running it, hence three city officers keep it open from 9 to 12 on week days, but it is closed on weekends, and apart from a few art works there is no Aboriginal experience for overseas visitors to enjoy. That is very disappointing.

The activation of the area has not happened, instead it has been deactivated, with the Captains’ Lane cottages only open from approximately  11-5 from Thursday to Sunday, but closed Monday-Wednesday and dark every night. When I lived up there as the caretaker of the Fremantle Society, the Crooks family and port pilots were also there 24/7. There was constant activity with the kids bringing friends from school, the Society holding events and meetings there and we all engaging with visitors to the area seven days a week from early till late. Hunter, the beautiful grey family cat was a great attraction for the tourists and photographed almost as much as the Round House. That has now gone and the precinct is a ghost town at night and half of the week during the day as well.

Mutima Arthouse had drumming classes, film and music nights, art exhibitions, etc. but that will now also stop, so even less activity will happen at Captain’s Lane.

The inflexibility and lack of understanding by City officers and councillors about the commercial viability to run Arthur Head as an art precinct  is disappointing, and so is the lack of serious promotion for the area. Where are the newspaper and magazine articles about the new art precinct, where are the flyers and signs, where are the events that should be held there? If the City of Fremantle believes this can all be done by artists willing to sign a $ 450 per week lease for the cottages, they are living in dream world and remote from reality. Far more needs to be done to support the artists and the Bathers Beach Art Precinct precinct, or it will fail. That there are still no signs around the City to promote the BBAP area, after the precinct was established a year ago, shows the City’s lack of interest in making it work, but why then evict the former long-term tenants who looked well after the place and kept it alive? The fact that Council signed off on allowing a pub and outdoor music venue there shows inconsistency and that all council wants it activation at all costs and that is matters little to them if the art precinct will survive.

Roel Loopers



Posted in art, fremantle by freoview on October 18, 2013

The Fremantle Bathers Beach Art Precinct at Arthur Head is a little bit isolated in the far west of our city, so make sure to visit the galleries, tell your friends and interstate and overseas visitors about it. They need and deserve our support!

Up at Captain’s Lane the old Pilots Cottages are being transformed into artist’s studios and galleries and the City is investing money to create and Indigenous Cultural Centre there as well. At number 10 a group of artists will share the cottage, while at number 11 MUTIMA ARTHOUSE has already set up shop. They sell a variety of art and goods, so check it out. Mutima also does percussion workshop for all those who like a bit of rhythm. It’s good for the soul and to get rid of bad moods and it’s energetic, so good for your health as well. Try it!

At number 9 Captain’s Lane is the gorgeous GLEN COWANS UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY. Glen’s photo are breathtakingly stunning and they come in all sizes, so they are affordable for even the smallest wallet and purse. Also great for corporate collections and boardrooms! If still photography is not what you want, have a look at the amazing videos by Glen’s wife Lousie Stazzionelli. They are wonderful. They are also a great way to look at sharks close up without having to worry about being bitten, and the playful dolphins are divine!

Glen Cowans will have the exhibition Shadows In The Sea of photos taken at Costa Rica and the Caribbean for the Fremantle Festival, he will also open the gallery seven days a week during that time. Both Glen and Mutima will open on Friday and Saturday evenings for the festival.

At J SHED French artist MAGALI has set up her printmaking workshop and gallery and is the neighbour of sculptors GREG JAMES and JANET NIXON, who are the neighbours of ceramic artist JENNY DAWSON and photographer PETER ZUVELA. Peter does photography workshops. Have a browse, and a chat with the artists and buy some presents. Christmas is only two months away!

Roel Loopers



Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 6, 2013

No wonder Fremantle peope are less than happy with the performance of the City of Fremantle. Haphazard decision-making and piecemeal planning are becoming the norm, and while many  believe the fault lies with council, much of it is due to an administration that under performs at many levels. The Arthur Head Art Hub is a good example of a mediocre administration, where existing and well established professional artists were treated as unwanted outlaws who had to proof their worth, so they could continue to work at J Shed.

There is finally movement at the station, with the opening last Friday of the cute Mutima Arthouse at Captain’s Lane. Next door four artists will open studios there soon, and on the corner at Mrs Trivett Lane an Indigenous Cultural Centre will be created.

That all sounds pretty good, but out of the blue, city officers have indicated they will want uniformity in signage at the art businesses on Arthur Head. This was not done before leases were signed, so Mutima for example already have invested in new signs. Will the established artists also be required to accept uniform signs? Glen Cowans for example has spent thousands of dollars on signs for his photography gallery and Jenny Dawson, Greg James and Peter Zuvela also only recently created and paid for new signs. One also has to ask why artists, who are by nature creative individuals, should be forced to have uniform signs instead of funky and creative individual ones.

I am all for the City getting an AHAH logo designed, which will be needed to promote and market the art hub, and good way-finding signs are long overdue in the area, but please CoF don’t interfere with the individual businesses and force them to all have similar signs. It would be boring!

Roel Loopers



Posted in art, fremantle by freoview on August 27, 2013

This is the beautiful seat created for the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco by Fremantle J Shed ceramic artist Jenny Dawson in collaboration with indigenous artists Jilalga Murray and Elsie Woods. It’s meant as a kind of outdoor meeting place where new mothers and their babies can meet with family and friends.

Roel Loopers

Photo by Peter Zuvela

Photo by Peter Zuvela


Posted in art, fremantle by freoview on July 29, 2013

The creative production line at  J Shed on Bathers Beach is very impressive. Just after having installed her huge sundial public art work in Port Hedland, Fremantle J Shed artist Jenny Dawson is creating another stunning piece. Here a quick preview glimpse at another wonderful ceramic work that will installed as a large bench seat with back, plus four individual small round seats, at the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, for new mothers, their babies and their families to enjoy.

The work was done in collaboration with Nyoongar artists Jilalga Murray and Elsie Woods, with some twigs and leaves of native flora embedded into the ceramic tiles.

Installation of the artwork at the hospital will be next week if the weather permits, so I’ll show it here on the blog then.

Roel Loopers

dawson art



Posted in fremantle by freoview on June 10, 2013

There appears to be a new twist to the Fremantle J Shed saga and the Arthur Head Art Hub (AHAH), if one can believe the talk around Freo. The wood workers at the number 1 gallery have received notice their lease is ending, while they believed they had a 12 year lease and still many years to go. I vaguely remember the director of Community Development Marissa Spaziani confirming that during a council meeting, so that should be on record. The wood workers tell people they signed a special lease with former property manager John Amor that if they paid double the normal rent they would receive and extended lease, so they did. However that addition to the lease was written on a piece of paper attached to the lease and that document seems to have been lost at the City of Fremantle. Interesting, to say the least!

I would appreciate if someone at the City of Fremantle could clarify this as this is obviously pretty stressful for the occupants.

There will be what I think can be called a crisis meeting at J Shed on June 18 when former minister for local government Simon O’Brien, politicians Lynn MacLaren and Simone McGurk, Freo Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt and Chamber of Commerce CEO Tim Milsom meet with artists Greg James, Jenny Dawson and Peter Zuvela.

It’s high time to sort out the mess AHAH has become and give these long term J Shed artists guarantees about their future on Arthur Head.

Interesting to hear the City of Fremantle is conducting a survey with visitors to Arthur Head on what they would like to see and change up there. It would have made more sense to do so before council made decisions on the future use of the area, but then again maybe visitors would have just liked the heritage aspect of it and not mention they would want artists studios up there. I know, I can be so cynical sometimes. ; >)

Roel Loopers



Posted in fremantle by freoview on May 27, 2013

Is this going to be a picture of the past or will the J Shed artists at Bathers Beach continue to create great art from there? The City of Fremantle has offered controversial License Agreements instead of commercial leases to Greg James and Jenny Dawson while the lease of Arthur Kalamaris has not been renewed and he is moving out. This is all part of making Arthur Head into an arts hub and the long term artists are not happy about it at all.

I hear there could be interference from higher up to solve this issue and hope to report on that tomorrow.

On another note. As feared there are already homeless people sleeping at the Pilot’s Cottages on Captain’s Lane. I predicted that the ghost town the area now is at night would attract unauthorised occupation and vandalism because the police never comes up to Arthur Head.

Roel Loopers

Sculptures by Greg James at J Shed

Sculptures by Greg James at J Shed


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