braddon snape

Making space

NEWCASTLE artist and founder of the Creator Incubator Braddon Snape is making art more accessible

MORNING

Ask any creative personality about routine, and the results can vary wildly – wild being the operative word. For practising artist and gallery director Braddon Snape “the only structure is no structure,” he shares. “Well, the most structured thing is probably my morning cup of coffee.” Essential, when fitting in as much as Snape does.

With a 25-year career in sculpture and installation art, Snape also runs The Creator Incubator (TCI), a studio and gallery space he established to help local artists engage with the community. Now in its sixth year, TCI proudly houses 35 studios – and 38 artists – plus a newly renovated warehouse-style exhibition and project space.

While he tries to carve out chunks of time for his art, Snape describes his days as a dance between his own work and TCI. Today starts with emails, before he heads out to the laser cutter to pick up some materials for his latest commission.

Braddon-snape
braddon-snape

Midday

Mid-morning sees Snape in his studio. It’s important for him to make time to create most days – for his own personal enjoyment and wellbeing – but also to meet demand. Represented by Nanda\Hobbs gallery, Snape has many national and international exhibitions to his name plus public art commissions and prestigious art prizes including this year’s Lake Art Prize from The Museum of Art and Culture.

He is best known for his striking inflated steel structures, including ‘Clouds Gathering’ – a significant public art installation for Maitland City Council, that in part led to the launch of the incubator and gallery.

Needing more studio room to construct that installation, Snape found space to rent in a big shed. “There I was, on my own with 540-square-metres, making that work but also thinking about the possibilities of what could happen there,” Snape says. And so TCI was born.

Gallery
braddon snape

Afternoon

Impromptu meetings pop up later in the day, often about ideas to expand 50 Clyde Street (the home of TCI) into a broader creative arts precinct, working with founder of Clyde Street Studios Michele Oshan and the building’s owner David Saddington. Snape also meets about upcoming exhibitions, including Rob Cleworth’s painting installation and the ‘T-Shirt Show’ curated by Marlene Houston and Fiona Lee.

Since its launch, TCI has been evolving with a colourful mix of makers. “The place doesn’t work if it’s 35 studios and 25 of them are essentially storage units… it needs to be a thriving space. And so it’s a kind of community of artists that engage with each other, and that are willing to be open enough, and to be exposed to the public somewhat.” Studios are open for viewing during gallery hours Thursday – Sunday and Snape’s daughter Bella now helps run the gallery to free up more time for Snape’s art.

“The most exciting thing for me is what’s next. That next body of work, or that next show”

Evening

Currently Snape strives for more nine-to-five working hours. “The old days of me working through the night and then sleeping late into the morning don’t work anymore, I need to work the general hours of the industry. So I try to be kind of regimented… But that all changes when I’m hitting a deadline for an exhibition or big project. I do some late nights, but at the same time, try and keep things balanced with my family.”

Downtime is important too. Growing up in Lake Macquarie, you could always find Snape either sailing or surfing, and that’s something he still enjoys today. “I’m going yacht racing on most Sundays now. It’s a good release and a completely different thing to managing TCI or making art.”

But he’ll always keep coming back to the making. “The most exciting thing for me is what’s next. That next body of work, or that next show.”

creator incubator
art gallery

PHOTOGRAPHY | JOHN CLIFF; BRADDON SNAPE; STUART MARLIN; ANTHONY HODGKINSON

WORDS | ROSIE DOUBLE