By James McCaughey*
At the heart of the Gasworks Arts Park (in Melbourne) lies the gift of imagination.
This is symbolised by the fact that artists work in the studios that ring the park, giving the Gasworks Arts Park its character.
We have always been proud that this is so – this evening, and in ensuing weeks, we celebrate it.
In the work of the artist, a different world is imagined. Or a different way of seeing this world is created. And through engaging with what the artist creates, we see the world anew.
It is unnecessary, this act.
It may make demands upon us.
It could even, sometimes, be easier if it did not do so, make these demands.
But the world would be a good deal less fun without their work. And, even though other worlds are imagined, without it would our world be seen in its true light?
Art may be a gift of the imagination, but it also requires extraordinary hard work to capture and realise. Each step dogged by the possibility of failure, the challenge of downheartedness or even, sometimes, despair.
But perhaps it is only because it can, at any moment, fail – that art can also continually surprise.
Art is done at great cost: the cost to the artist of continuing and supporting the work in creation. The personal cost of the struggle with doubt. The effort to move the work forward so that it is always changing, always moving into the unknown.
This fragile, costly, remarkable process lies at the heart of a dream that brings us to this room, for the opening of Gasworks’ latest exhibition, and connects the enterprise of the park: to animate a public space through the art of imagining and creating.
I welcome all here: artists and friends and public. We thank the artists who today bring into the public this moment in their work, aware of the cost, the daring, the endurance, the skill and the vulnerability that underlies this enterprise, the fruits of which we now enjoy.
This is a reminder that the community is also at the heart of our enterprise – its assent for our existence in their midst, its involvement, its attention, its financial support.
In this room, there are many who over long years have supported Gasworks Arts Park with heart, mind and voice – and who, in a world there is much competition for much-needed funds, have supported it financially.
Tonight the Gasworks Foundation applauds that support.
* James McCaughey is the chairman of the Gasworks Arts Park board. This is transcript of his opening address.