Art for art’s sake

All cultures speak two non-verbal languages – that of art and music. When we interact with art, either as a creator or viewer, it provides a sensory experience that is not only restorative but can even heal. Engaging with art gives the eye and the brain a chance to work differently, to step away from the workday world’s linear thinking to a place of lateral musing. You can almost feel new neural pathways being forged. At its most simple level art can simply please the eye with its colour, shape and subject matter or it can texturally attract us by its material construction; or go on to provoke a stronger emotional response as it excites, inspires or soothes our soul.

Art then matters simply for itself, which is why the catchphrase ‘Art for art’s sake’ is actually a truism. It is a translation of the French bohemian slogan of the 19th century, l’art pour l’art, which was created in response to the (then) belief that the purpose of art was to serve a moral or didactic purpose. When artists countered with ‘art for art’s sake’ they affirmed their philosophy that art was valuable in and of itself and that artistic pursuits were their own justification, they did not need a moral purpose.

The West End is fast becoming an art hot spot and the newest player in our growing art landscape, Cstudios Art Gallery, opened on 22 February specialising in contemporary and fine art. Located opposite Bank Corner, in the former Bellevue Hotel, this pub turned gallery has been cleverly transformed by its director and curator Jo Chisholm-Ray. The building wraps around the corner of Bellevue and Hunter Streets its large windows making the gallery’s art visible to pedestrians. An art gallery is a natural home for Jo, who grew up with a photographer father and photographic colourist mother. She helped in the family business from a young age and photography still remains one of her loves.

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Cstudios Art Gallery is filled with beautiful art in every medium: photo media, works on paper, fibre art, sculpture, canvases, ceramics and paintings in crayon, oil and water colour. Its exhibitions turn over every three weeks and Jo urges us not to just look at the art, but to buy original artwork and display it as investing in our artists is one of the most effective ways to support them.

As well as showing the work of established and emerging artists Jo’s plans for Cstudios include developing it as a space for performance art and art events of all kinds. Cstudios doesn’t just provide a space for the showing of art, but is a dynamic place for creating new work as well. In May the gallery will hold two Painting with Pastels workshops which will allow participants to learn the secrets of creating layered colour and other techniques using this beautiful medium which is described as being ‘like painting in oils and drawing at the same time’.

Art inexorably improves the quality of our lives and engages us on a spiritual and emotional level, but describing just how it does this can prove elusive. The mystic monk Thomas Merton probably came closest with his beautiful observation “Art allows us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”.

Cstudios Art Gallery, Shop 1, 738 Hunter Street, (corner of Bellevue and Hunter Streets) Newcastle West. Phone: 4023 8927 or 0407 107 053.,, Gallery hours: Tuesday to Sunday 12.00pm-4.00pm, Friday 12.00pm-4.00pm.  Expressions of interest for the Painting with Pastels workshop to Gwendolin Lewis: Phone: 4960 9193 or 0420 298 611.

Kimberly O’Sullivan


Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me:; 0413 250 155.


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