Artists downcast

07. 21NEWS

Ceramic artist Jenny Dawson was at work this week trying to keep her mind off her lease woes

‘Horrendous’ clauses in new J-Shed contract

AFTER sleepless nights and bouts of crying, ceramicist Jenny Dawson wouldn’t let the Herald’s cameras near her red and puffy face this week.

Neighbouring sculptor Greg James wasn’t available for comment because he’s down south viewing a property with a big shed.

So it’s fair to say the J-Shed artists haven’t reacted well to Fremantle council’s latest offer in the row over their tenure.

Last Wednesday the council sent the pair a draft licence to replace the leases they’ve held for 20 years. Dawson describes it as “horrendous” and says it would ruin her business.

It includes a clause permitting the council to install another business in the artists’ studios without their consent. That’s after making them pay an undisclosed yearly licence fee up-front.

The artists would also be compelled to take part in committees to smarten up Arthur Head, festival promotion, website development, open their studios and exhibit for at least a month every year.

“How am I going to get any work done?” Dawson asks.

But most galling to the artist is being subjected to six-monthly reviews by “peers” to make sure her work is up to scratch, despite having made a subsidy-free living from her art for 20 years.

“Who’s my peer?!” she thunders.

Dawson reveals she’s sacked three part-time artists and two of her three full-time assistants because she hasn’t been pursuing commissions due to the uncertainty.

Mayor Brad Pettitt met with James earlier this week, but wouldn’t comment other than to say the licence was “just a draft”.

Dawson and business partner Peter Zuvela will sleep on the document for a couple of days before making a final decision, but they aren’t hopeful.


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