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.

View the full article online.


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 and in March 2018 a further exhibition with Stephanie Radok, Susan Jenkins, Andrew Baines and Therese Ritchie opened.

The next exhibition will be in October 2018.

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 included 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 (now ACE), for Architecture Week October 2012. The project was awarded funds from Arts SA. Artists in the project were Sera Waters, Kirsten Coelho, Nicholas Folland, Nici Cumpston, Lily Hibberd, Jacobus Capone and Sandra Selig.

Vivonne gave papers at the FRAN FEST (Feminist Renewal Art Network) Symposium: Feminism, Art Practices and Histories, 2017 and at the 2018 Women, Art and Feminism Symposium (ARC Project), VCA and MCM Melbourne.

Read more about specific curated projects.