Liveblogging the ANCA Open Studios: Mitchell Campus

Posted by anca in Blog

Welcome from the ANCA studios open day! I’m currently at the Mitchell campus, sitting in Amanda Stuart’s studio, slowly working my way around each offering by the artists. In the background is live music by the Two Step Trio, and there’s food and drink for a mellow afternoon in the sun. Come on down, there’s lots to see. 




Savandhary Vongpoothorn is in Mitchell’s Studio 1. Her practice is centred upon painting, exploring themes rooted in Buddhist spirituality. She’s currently working on a collaboration with poet Carol Hayes, an academic in Japanese Studies at ANU. It’s a series of rubbings from a temple in Nara, Canberra’s sister city. It was a serendipitous connection, as the rubbings were taken without knowledge of the political connection. Vongpoothorn doesn’t speak Japanese, and we had a great conversation about how things get lost and found in translation.  Come and have your own conversation with her.



1:30 Keith Marshall, Mitchell Studio 6, is best known for his bespoke business Kumo Cycles. Each bicycle is custom-built for the client, and feature his custom logo that is engraved onto the forks using his beloved Pantograph machine. Acknowledging that bespoke production is satisfying but not terribly efficient economically, Keith’s now working on a limited edition batch production style aimed at the bikepacking market. Come and check out his awesome machinery.


1:45 Amanda Stuart, Mitchell Studio 7, is probably best known to Canberrans for the bronze wild dog pack running through the Garema Place end of City Walk. There’s another pack in her studio: the ones you seen behind her, which are the originals used to cast the bronze pack. Fun fact: on the back of her desk chair is a dingo skin, which is fascinating children and adults alike. She’s only here for a short while, so don’t miss out on the experience. 


2:00 Tom Skeehan, Mitchell studio 8, has a furniture enterprise that specialises in commercial furniture, lighting and product design. I got a little distracted looking around at all the bits and pieces hanging around the walls, but I overheard him talking to other people about leather strapping underneath the cushions of a display chair. It all looks extremely professional. 

The best thing about today is seeing behind the scenes of this campus, which is the more industrial arm of ANCA. Image

2:10   Oliver Ayrton, Mitchell Studio 9, wasn’t in his studio when I went in, but there was lots of interesting things to look at: diagrams, wax forms, images around the walls. Faces and heads everywhere! I’ve still got heaps of studios to explore, so I didn’t hang around, but I’m sure he’s not far…


2:15 Michael Armstrong, in Mitchell Studio 10, was fascinating to talk to. He was a trained artist before joining the Defence Forces, where he served in Afghanistan and other overseas posts as a close combat instructor. After he left the forces, he returned to art. His work is classically figurative, with a twist: he tries to convey, often through performance, how experiences like his have a distorting effect on perception. He’ll talk audiences through some of the combat training and shift their perception of his work and their own assumptions about taking what they see for granted.  In the background of this photo you can see documentation images from a project he did where he created close combat weapons and then destroyed them. 


2:25   One of the great things about ANCA is that you can share studios, which can make studio practice a lot more affordable. Another factor is that these Mitchell studios are  often larger than those at the Dickson campus, so it makes sense to share if you don’t need all the space. Studio 14 is one of those studios, shared by Michelle England and Steven Worthington. 

Michelle is a true mixed media artist, working 2D and 3D with found objects and various materials. You can see her work in the current CCAS Gorman House group exhibition, Obsessive Compulsion. Her portion of the studio is long and thin, like a ship’s galley, full of works in progress and interesting objects. 

Steven Worthington is working his way through a double degree at the ANU School of Art + Design. He’s finished his time in Gold & Silver and is now concentrating on his sculpture units. His latest compulsion is casting metals to make small objects, like medallions and coins, and so his interest in sculpture revolves around bas relief, which hovers between 2D and 3D. Get him talking about melting down different metals, and he’ll give you a little demo.

OK, Mitchell achievement unlocked: I’m off to Dickson to see how many studios I can cover before the afternoon ends…


Open Studios: 11am – 4pm Saturday 11 November 2017

Where: ANCA Mitchell 96 Hoskins St Mitchell

Free Event

More info call 02 6247 8736

Caren Florance is the current ANCA Critic in Residence

Tags: Art Writing, Residents, Studios