• Dr Margi Brown Ash

Margi talks at Metro Arts Launch

It was a great night. Art, artists, conversations, drinks, nibbles by Verve Restaurant, our local downstairs and of course some speeches. Here is mine, representing the artists in the building…this is a slightly extended talk, I delivered a shorter one on the night:


But Mr. Strunk (of The Elements of Style fame) cut out so many words that he “often seemed in the position of having shortchanged himself—a man left with nothing more to say yet with time to fill…he got out of this predicament by a simple trick: he uttered every sentence three times… He leaned forward over his desk and, in a husky, conspiratorial voice, said “Rule Seventeen. Omit needless words! Omit needless words! Omit needless words!” (Strunk, White, Kalman, 2007, X1V)

So I shall follow suit. Metro arts Metro arts Metro arts The old broad The old broad The old broad…

I came to Metro Arts one warm autumn day in May of 2002. I had just been to see the divine Barb Lowing in her solo Mary Magdalene by Alison Cotes at the great Cathedral in town. I sat next to Sue and conversation regarding studio space grew. Within a month I was in studio 3.7 with my friend visual artist Bev Jensen. We painted (no, she painted I coached from the side) it pink and yellow. We furnished it with odds and sods, and our Metro Arts journey of now 13 years, began. We cooked scones in the microwave, we entertained in the large hallway.

We performed ridiculous experimental pieces that we thought were fabulous at the time but looking back had a weirdness that has no name.

I have lived in six different studios throughout the building always believing that the latest one was ‘it’. I have had an open door policy: people come and go, we drink tea, sometimes champagne. All of these years have been rich. Rich with friendships, with artmaking.

Metro Arts has been my second home. Since the 90’s I have watched four CEO’s come, place their print on the building, growing it into something that no other city in Australia has: a true home for independent artists.

In 2003-4 the first incubator began on the first floor. Liz Burcham was imported from down south to teach us how to become vibrant business women/men as well as artists. It was a fabulous program. By then I was on the first floor in the huge corner office. The incubators would come to visit my studio, we would lay out collage material and away we would go, growing our business ideas through art making:

Lots of things have happened at Metro Arts: lots of fabulously exciting things. All of my own works have been birthed here, most importantly The Belonging Trilogy: EVE, HOME and He Dreamed a Train. Metro has supported my works in multiple ways, through space, funding, opportunities, love.

This year I have been company in residence. Because of metro I have been able to give free counselling and coaching to the arts community. I have lost track of how many people have walked through the doors on the third floor, at all hours and all days of the week. We sit, have a cup of tea and talk about ways of being in an industry that does not make it easy.

All of us have walked up the stairs. All of us have walked up the stairs. Puffing at first. Puffing at first.

But the more we visit the old broad, the easier it gets. WE need metro more than metro needs us. We need metro more than metro needs us. We need a home. We need to know that there is a place in our town that opens her arms for the artist in need, the artist who has much to say and no place to say it. We need her more than she needs us.

Lets be generous tonight. Lets dip into our pockets and demonstrate how essential The Old Broad is to us. How it has grown our work, how it has supported and nurtured our soul.

There is an office, originally on the first floor, then when times got hard, moved to the second floor. Lets not have it move to the third floor. It would cramp my style. That office is filled with dedicated, deliciously alive and constantly working individuals who care. Who want this place to thrive. Who are always up for a laugh. Who always make me smile.

Cheers to the office Cheers to the office Cheers to the office

And cheers to you. $100.00 per step. Share the step if need be. But buy you a step. So that Metro Arts can stay in step with her community who loves and adores her.

Her community who loves and adores her. Her community who loves and adores her.