vivonne thwaites



about artroom5

“The last ten years have seen the rise of a new phenomenon in the exhibition and sale of contemporary art in Australia – the home gallery. Positioned between the costly and sometimes rigid model of the commercial gallery and the let-it-all hang-out freedom of artist-run-spaces, home galleries offer an alternative viewing environment/model in which artists, curators or gallerists can display new bodies of work, or more typically combine the work of several artists, usually unrepresented. Displaying art in a domestic environment is nothing new. Most art is made to be lived with, at home. And artists have often exhibited their art in a home context, a kind of off-Broadway tryout for new work, playing to a sympathetic audience of friends, family and fellow artists. Enlightened patrons have also sometimes filled this role by providing exhibition space at home. Nowadays, the home gallerist is more likely to be an enthusiast, curator or would be-gallerist without the financial wherewithal, or interest, to stump up for the premises, staff and stable of a regular commercial gallery – but with passion and enthusiasm to find and exhibit new artists and works that may have been overlooked.”

“A different imperative motivates Adelaide freelance curator Vivonne Thwaites, whose gallery artroom5 occupies rooms in her house in Henley Beach. Trained as a painter and printmaker, Vivonne later worked at the Art Gallery of Western Australia and for the Australia Council. From 1990-2000 she curated Artspace, the visual arts venue at the Adelaide Festival Centre and was later curator of the South Australian School of Art (SASA) Gallery. Over the last decade she has independently curated a series of exhibitions for South Australian university and art school galleries in which material from museum collections and archives is re-interpreted by contemporary artists, most notably Holy Holy Holy (2004 Adelaide Festival) for Flinders University and Writing a painting (2006 Adelaide Festival) for Uni SA. Vivonne first showed artists at home as part of the Adelaide Festival Fringe in 2004. As The Occasional Gallery, it was launched with a show called Real. Not real, curated by artist Dawn Kanost and featuring Marc de Jong, James Lynch, Sarah Crowest, Fergus Binns and Akira Akira. Later that year came another exhibition, with James Cochran (the artist who went on to fame after painting the David Bowie mural in London), Alan Tucker and Helen Fuller. It began again in earnest in 2008, with six to eight shows a year in two or three clusters. Vivonne started artroom5 out of ‘frustration at the many good artists with nowhere to show’. It also gave her the opportunity to practice her craft: ‘I had curated Artspace for many years, had been an independent curator, and had run the SASA Gallery. So I think I needed to keep doing shows, as a kind of personal expression, and to keep in touch with artists’, of whom she knows many: I follow their work … I can see potential early. I am quite aware that sometimes I am showing people a bit early, i.e., they still have a way to go, but I feel I can participate a bit in directing an artist’s practice, encourage a certain vein in their work, show them with complementary artists.”

John Cruthers in Art Monthly, issue 246.


Adelaide based art curator Vivonne Thwaites established artroom5 to showcase work by young, emerging and unknown artists. In 2010 artroom5 was awarded some Arts SA funds to continue into 2011. It opened again in March 4, 2017 with selected artists showing throughout the home.

Vivonne Thwaites was Visual Arts Director, Adelaide Festival Centre for many years and was the Curator of the School of Art Gallery University of South Australia in 2006. In July/August 2006 Vivonne was awarded the University of Sydney Power Studio at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. As a result, in 2010 she launched her project Littoral at Carnegie Gallery, Hobart with the artists Judy Watson, Bev Southcott, Toni Warburton, Aadje Bruce and Julie Gough. The project was funded by Aust Co and GDF, based on the work of Charles Alexandre Lesueur, French artist on the Baudin voyage and contemporary responses to these works and our oceans today. The project was reviewed by Mary Eagle in Art Monthly and Daniel Thomas in The Australian.

Vivonne curated the project Roads Cross, 2012 with Flinders Universities Fiona Salmon with Visions Development funds.

Vivonne was the curator on a project ' me a city', a partnership with the Architecture Museum, Uni SA and the aeaf, scheduled for Architecture Week October 2012. The project has been awarded funds from Arts SA. Artists in the project are Sera Waters, Kirsten Coelho, Nicholas Folland, Nici Cumpston, Lily Hibberd, Jacobus Capone and Sandra Selig.

Selected curated projects:

2012 Roads Cross with Flinders University Art Museum, Visions funded. Curators Vivonne Thwaites, Fiona Salmon, Anita Angel. Since the late 20th century, opportunities to engage with Australian Aboriginal art, its makers and their communities have increasingly informed Western approaches to art-making. Roads Cross explores how this development has left traces and echoes in recent Australian art - literally, in terms of subject matter and direct collaboration, and formally or conceptually, as expressed through art and ideas. More broadly, the project underscores the place of art as a means of dialogue, a platform for communication between Australia's Indigenous and settler peoples. Alison Alder, Nyukana Baker, Lauren Berkowitz, Robin Best, Angela Brennan, Yaritji Connelly, Gus Clutterbuck, Richard Dunn, pura-lia meenamatta (Jim Everett), Franck Gohier, Jonathan Kimberley, Ildiko Kovacs, Pamela Lofts, Molly Nampitjin Miller, Una Rey, Tobias Richardson, Therese Ritchie, Nalda Searles, Quentin Sprague, Rover Thomas, Hossein Valamanesh.

2011 build me a city with the Architecture Museum, University of South Australia and the Australian Experimental Art Foundation (Arts SA funded) ; 2011 Roads Cross with Flinders University Art Museum and Charles Darwin University (Visions funded) ; 2011 Home Stories with Adelaide Central School of Art and the Migration Museum of SA (Arts SA funded)

2010 Littoral with the French Department University of Adelaide (Aust Co, GDF, Hobart City Council funded)

2006 Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts project titled Writing a painting, opening on March 1, 2006. This project was funded by Uni SA International, Arts SA, The Australia Council, The Gordon Darling Foundation, the Australia China Council and Asialink. Artists Robin Best and Helen Fuller with Nyukana Baker and Huang Xiuqian. Writers Vivonne Thwaites, Prof Nicholas Jose, John Kean and Mary Eagle.

2006 Tamworth Fibre Textile Biennial. Project title: in the world - toured nationally throughout 2007/08. Artists Beth Hatton, Jean Baptiste Apuatimi (Tiwi), Minymaku artists, Julie Gough, Irmina van Niele, Kay Lawrence, Ilka White, Sandy Elverd, Helen Fuller, Michelle Nikou, Bede Tungatalem, Rosemary Whitehead and many others. Catalogue essay Vivonne Thwaites, Australia Council and Visions of Australia funded.

2004 Holy Holy Holy was funded by Arts SA, The Australia Council’s Visual Arts Board and ATSIAB, The Gordon Darling Foundation, The History Trust and Visions of Australia. Holy Holy Holy was a project of the 2004 Adelaide Festival and toured nationally. This project looked at the impact of Christianity on Indigenous people in Australia through a range of works by contemporary artists and museum and social history material. Artists such as Michael Riley, Linda Syddick Napaltjarri, Darren Siwes, Jarinyanu David Downs, Ian W Abdulla, Irene Mbitjana Entata, Christine McCormack, Trevor Nickolls, Alan Tucker, Harry Wedge, Julie Dowling, Nici Cumpston and James Cochran are included and the writers Marcia Langton, Bill Edwards, Rob Amery, Mary Eagle, Varga Hosseini and Christine Nicholls explore the topic in the accompanying catalogue, Introduction by Vivonne Thwaites. This project was featured in articles in Art Monthly by Nick Waterlow and in Art and Australia by Tracey Lock Weir and was written up twice in The Age with full-page features in each instance.

2001/02 Home is where the heart is, representing twelve Australian artists: Joyce Winsley, Julie Gough, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Nalda Searles, Irene Briant, Jo Crawford and others. Catalogue essays by Vivonne Thwaites, Mary Eagle and Stephanie Radok. Funded by The Centenary of Federation, Arts SA, Arts WA, The Australia Council and Country Arts SA. The catalogue for this project won The Award of Merit/Visual Communication in the Design Body Two Awards, Design Institute of Australia announced in November 2001. The catalogue also won the Graphic Design Award and The Diamond Award at the Australian Institute of Professional Communicators National Serif Awards announced November 2001. This project received major attention in The Australian and Art Monthly. Funded by the Australia Council, Arts SA, the Centenary of Federation and Country Arts SA.

2000 Karra/Karrawirraparri, a project about the significance of the River Red Gum and the role of this tree in the ecosystem of the Murray. The artists Agnes Love, Jo Crawford, Chris De Rosa participated in this project, curated for the Telstra Adelaide Festival 2000 and funded by The Myer Foundation, Arts SA, Trees for Life and The Adelaide Festival Centre Trust. Catalogue essays by Vivonne Thwaites, Eric Rolls, Stephanie Radok, Martin O’Leary. This project was given attention in The Australian Review of Books by Drusilla Modjeska and was featured in The Bulletin. The US journal Ethics and Environment, Indiana University Press requested an article on this project.

1998 Three Views of Kaurna Territory Now curated for the 25th anniversary of the Adelaide Festival Centre with the Indigenous artists Darren Siwes, Nici Cumpston and Agnes Love, funded by The Australia Council and The Adelaide Festival Centre Trust. Catalogue essays by John Kean and Vivonne Thwaites.

1994 talking.listening with the artists Ian Abdulla, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Ellen Trevorrow, Aland Tucker, Jo Crawford for AFCT (AFCT funded); 1994 The Pam Harris show for AFCT and eaf; 1997 Mapping the Comfort Zone and many other projects.