‘With Solace’ Opening Night by With You – November 2020
“We always wanted the theme to be something that was happy, that was bright and that was colourful – we wanted it to be the opposite of everything that everyone was feeling and going through.”
With You Studio Producer Dan Valenzisi, Founder Ingrid Kool-Clarke and crew have extended the ‘With Solace’ exhibition online after selling out of artists’ prints and a weekend-long launch at Darlinghurst’s COMA Gallery.
“’With Solace’ was put together to raise money and raise awareness for charities… in this case Reach Out,” said Dan. “We felt that given the current climate and current circumstances if you will that an online mental health organization was the best charity for us to work with.
“From the first time we spoke with them they were right on board and so keen to be involved and it snowballed from there; we reached out to a bunch of artists that we liked and were fans of first and foremost to which we had a great response.”
With all profits donated to Reach Out, each artist, among them M. J. Forrest, Beci Orpin, Steve Gavan & Brooke Gossen, was well aware of the exhibition’s broader focus when developing their contributions.
“We loosely themed it around the sentence ‘Indulge in a daydream,’ said Dan. “Encapsulating everything we wanted it to be, we spoke within the team… being mostly designers they always find it easier when there’s a little bit of a brief to work with and we wanted to give the artists that as well.
“The theme worked; I think it worked really well.”
‘With Solace,’ ‘inspired by the wild events of 2020,’ while predominantly engaging audiences online was the first opportunity for many patrons and artists to interact with a physical exhibition in several months.
“It was a tricky thing to navigate at first as the physical exhibition was not a thought when we first scoped all of this, it was something that was going to run solely online,” said Dan. “As we built momentum we felt that we were doing something quite cool and powerful and then the restrictions started to ease a little bit and we felt it was a bit of a missed opportunity if we didn’t at least try and do something in the physical space.”
“It’s always tough to find the right space for the right amount of people that’s safe and also a gallery and will complement the work so once we had COMA Gallery locked down everything just came as second nature.”
Taking place in November in Darlinghurst, the opening Friday was brimming at (reduced) capacity complete with a socially-distanced line stretching Stanley Street.
“It was great, you had so many people come there,” said Dan. “It definitely complemented the digital sales, so many were scanning the QR codes and just running the numbers after that we saw it made such a big difference and just the overall response from the physical exhibition was super, super positive.”
“It was nice to see some people out again and be able to mingle and also the artists, because so many of the artists are from Sydney or greater New South Wales… to be able to meet them and thank them in person, that was such an important thing for us because it’s so hard to show gratitude now over the internet or over email or even over a call sometimes so to be able to see them in person, thank them and also in return see how much it meant to them was a really nice thing to be able to have.”
Consisting of 23 artists, illustrators and typographers, ‘With Solace’ will be available online until this weekend.
“We’ve had artists that sold out and we’ve spoken to them and asked if they’d be interested in doing a second run of 20 to which they’ve all said yes,” concluded Dan. “We want to push as hard as we can to raise as much money as we can… why not; let’s push for another week and see what more we can do.”
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