Discover Broadmeadow’s premier art gallery
Newcastle’s ever-growing creative scene has landed itself a new addition to the gallery scene with Straitjacket, brought to you by Dino Consalvo and Ahn Wells having launched earlier this year in July.
Six years and a lifetime of connections in the making, Straitjacket has propelled itself onto our premier art scene with its rotating collection of curated solo, group, and represented artist exhibitions.
The pair, both calling Newcastle home, have extensive backgrounds in the creative industries with Dino having been exhibiting his works since his teenage years, and Ahn, not only creating her own works across different mediums but having launched and ran her own gallery, Gallery 139 on Beaumont Street from 2015-2019.
“We established the gallery to create a space that not only supports artists by providing a professional gallery in which to exhibit and sell their artwork, but also to produce exhibitions for audiences that challenge, explore, and investigate contemporary ideas and concepts,” Dino said.
The name itself, Straitjacket, is a talking point worth hearing about. Not what one would initially think, Dino came up with the name to encourage artists to get creative by getting out of their own straitjackets.
“It’s about creativity…we want to get artists out of their straitjackets so that they can produce really interesting and great work. You don’t come in and put on your straitjacket, you come in and take it off,” Ahn said.
Since its launch in July, Straitjacket has hosted a diverse range of local, national, and international artists from various disciplines including Dean Beletich, Kara Wood, Olivia Parsonage, Lydia Miller, Liam Power, Leslie Fitzsimmons, Graham Wilson, Jo Dyer, and most recently, Dylan Jones.
“With local artists, it gives them a really nice place to exhibit their work professionally. It’s not just about the sale of their work, it’s about pushing their art practice forward. I hope it’s a place where artists think they can exhibit their best work.”
Speaking with Dino and Ahn, the duo mentioned they have exhibitions scheduled for the next twelve months with consistently exciting, innovative, creative, and intriguing exhibitions in the line-up gracing their studio walls and floors.
To truly appreciate Straitjacket, you must look at the love and the detail that has been poured into every decision along the way. The architecturally stunning two-storey gallery boasts a four-metre ceiling, two separate galleries (gallery one and gallery two), a working studio upstairs, and an open garden space complete with an in-house bar!
“The design of the space has evolved. In the course of building, we knew certain things wouldn’t work. I love the front gallery and I love it when you first walk in you think this is it, then you turn the corner, and you get that little wow moment. The whole thing evolved from visits to Sydney when I was a kid and my perception of what a gallery was. It’s always been white and clean, but it was exciting.
“I didn’t want the space to be intimidating, I wanted it to be exciting and welcoming so that front room or gallery one just really brings and welcomes you in,” Dino shared.
Thoughtful details can be found throughout including the pressed iron ceiling, intricate tiling, timber staircase, and the pièce de resistance, the feature room; a dedicated space for those wanting to buy a painting.
“We use tricks throughout the space like this mirror here was actually the front window of the original house. It’s a trick mirror, an effective mirror. The reflective window sometimes finds visitors thinking the gallery goes on without realising it’s a mirror!”
Straitjacket is a very welcome addition to the continually booming creative scene, for not only local artists to work with both Dino and Ahn to have their works showcased, but to exhibit alongside a broad selection of artists across Australia and beyond.
“We hope it will be a space for both local and interstate artists. That means that the Newcastle community will get to see a wide variety of work which will hopefully excite people as well,” Ahn said.
Whether you’re excited to experience the newest gallery to make a splash on our local scene, are keeping an eye on an upcoming exhibition, or are just eager to engage with a diverse range of works, visit Dino Consalvo and Ahn Wells at Straitjacket in Broadmeadow.