Ideas Platform

Debra Phillips

15 Dec 2023 – 11 Feb 2024

Above: Debra Phillips, Randle Street (views from studio windows 1–15), 1984/2023. Installation View, Ideas Platform, Artspace. Photo: Zan Wimberley
43–51 Cowper Wharf Roadway
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Sydney Australia
Friday 15 December 2023

'As an artist rather than historian, my work with archives is speculative, creative, partial and personal. Drawing on both the institutional archive of Artspace and my own personal photographic archive, LOUPE creates a link between this current moment of Artspace’s transformation and the inception of the organisation four decades ago.'

Debra Phillips’ LOUPE is the inaugural of three artist-led archive-focused projects presented in the Ideas Platform. The series offers artists an open invitation to engage with and respond to material across the breadth of Artspace’s extensive 40-year archive. Phillips has a longstanding association with Artspace, having had a solo exhibition in 1990 at our original premises at 11 Randle Street, Surry Hills, and again in 1993 at The Gunnery building. In her practice, Phillips often explores systems of knowledge and their intersection with daily life to generate questions around history-making, economics, geography, and politics, with an interest in interrogating public and private archives and collections.

The artist lived and worked in a studio above Artspace from our establishment in 1983 until 1998. The Randle Street building was destroyed by fire in early 2023. LOUPE features 22 photographs looking out over Central Station taken by Phillips from her studio in 1984. Randle Street (views from studio windows 1–15) were made using a traditional large format 4 x 5” camera. The trace of aging visible in the colour negatives alludes to the passing of time, furthered by the accumulative nature of the work which depicts subtle changes in perspective, light, weather and activity observed across several days. There is an innate sense of transience in the representation of concentrated and repeated processes of looking out at the world; of situating oneself in a time and place; here and there, then and now.

These photographic works are accompanied by LOUPE, a 24-page newspaper style publication produced by the artist, which gathers visual material drawn from or responding to the first two years of Artspace’s public activities. Ranging from the first exhibition A Different Perspective in 1983 to Koori Art ’84, LOUPE documents a selection of Artspace’s archival material including slides, video stills, audio cassette cases, photographs, books, catalogues and posters. The publication is offered as a gift for audiences to take with them, each copy also including a small snapshot-scale print from polaroid photographs Phillips made at Randle Street during the early 1980s – a memento of the first Artspace for the first visitors to the newly transformed Artspace.


Public Program

Artist Talk

Debra Phillips

Sat 16 Dec 2023

The Ideas Platform is supported by Andrew Cameron AM and Cathy Cameron.