Verso interviews Peter Walker

Exhibition Title: Kaleidoscope
Venue: Peter Walker Fine Art (101 Walkerville Terrace, Walkerville)
Artists: Helpmann Academy's 2016 Residency recipients from their India and China Residencies
Karl Brasse, Juniper Darling, Liam Fleming, Sue Garrard, Jack Ladd, Simone Linder-Patton, Georgia Matthews
Dates: 3rd August - 12th August (Thursday - Saturday 11am-5pm)

Each year for SALA, Peter Walker Fine Art hosts an exhibition featuring artists who have participated in the Helpmann Academy's Sanskriti Kendra Residency in India and the SA Power Networks Pottery Residency in Jingdezhen in China. Verso caught up with Peter Walker of Peter Walker Fine Art Gallery to find out about his involvement in SALA and what value it holds to him.

 Peter Walker

Peter Walker

Verso: What do you find unique about SALA?

Peter Walker: To me, SALA is a celebration everyone can get involved in. There is a lot of excitement around it because of that - especially for the general public. This is potentially because SALA is unique in its own right. To my knowledge, no other Australian state has a festival like this!

Verso: Can you give us a brief run down on your continued support/ interest in showing work from Helpmann Academy residency recipients as a part of SALA?

Peter Walker: It’s really to do with the Helpmann Academy and what it does for artists.

Helpmann Academy supports artists who are just starting their careers. Although this particular show is for visual artists, I support this organisation because it supports artists from all disciplines.

I enjoy this particular exhibition because it showcases the good work done by the Helpmann Academy. This is a unique opportunity for the artists who have participated in these residencies to show in a commercial gallery setting. This is inevitable if they plan to make visual art a career. It's part of the reality of being an artist.

Verso: Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with the Helpmann Academy? Is this SALA exhibition a collaborative venture?

Peter Walker: It is a collaborative venture in the sense that Helpmann Academy and I consult with each other on decisions. They run the opening night and I do what I usually do in order to emulate the workings of a commercial gallery. My role includes regular meetings and informing the artists of my expectations as a gallery owner. From these initial meetings we form a rough plan for installation, which is subject to change when the work arrives to the gallery.

As to my involvement with the Helpmann Academy - I am the Chair of their Foundation Board and am on the Board of Governors. I have been involved in one way or another for the past 7 or 8 years.  My original reason for joining was their support of all arts disciplines and the support offered when emerging artists need it most - after formal arts training.

Verso: How does this exhibition fit in with the rest of your program?

Peter Walker: I have a very eclectic program. I deal in old European art through to very contemporary art. This exhibition fits in with my interest in showcasing young career artists. 

Verso: What value do you see in the residency opportunities offered by Helpmann?

Peter Walker:  Residencies give a whole new direction and set of experiences to these artists. I believe that it wouldn't matter what industry you were in - new surroundings and experiences would be refreshing. The fact that the Sanskriti and Jingdezhen residencies are recognised overseas institutions means that recipients are surrounded by like minded individuals and they learn so much.

Verso: What makes you passionate about supporting artists returning from these residencies? 

Peter Walker: It's about the excitement of dealing with young emerging artists. Whilst I donate the financial side of things, the exhibition is run with the intention of giving the artists a realistic understanding of what exhibiting in a commercial gallery entails. I take no commission - instead the artists liaise with Helpmann to arrange a commission which goes back into the Helpmann Academy.

Verso: What are you looking forward to most about SALA this year?

Peter Walker: As with previous years exhibitions, the experience of having the gallery packed out with excited people and the engagement with the general public.