Artist Wants a Life (AWAL) was a two week interdisciplinary arts laboratory facilitated by Watch This Space, an Artist Run Initiative based in Alice Springs. As artist provocateurs, Lynda Roberts (Public Assembly) and Bek Conroy (Bill & George) worked collaboratively in facilitating and developing the structure of the lab, in partnership with Watch This Space and project instigator and artist, Beth Sometimes. Situated at Honeymoon Gap, 20km west of Alice Springs on the West McDonnell Ranges, AWAL was both a creative lab and an artist camp. A total of ten artists were selected to participate, including five artists based in Central Australia and five from across the country.




Lab Structure

The concept for the 2012 AWAL lab drew on the idea of creating an armature, where by the lab started as a clearly defined structure that was slowly removed until the participating artists were self supported and the lab outcome self determined. This approach was developed in an effort to establish a dialogue between regional/remote artists and urban artists, develop collaborative skills and create enduring artistic relationships, spanning both the geographic and disciplinary divide.


The artist provocateurs aimed to be enablers – establishing a creative / social scaffold that had the potential to change over the course of the lab. A key objective was to develop activies that responded to the dynamics of the group: shifting in timescales and approach – between the active / physical to the reflective / discursive. At times the structure was interrupted by excursions that provided artists an opportunity to connect with local arts and indigenous communities and their country, allowing space for reflection and critical distance from the lab.


While some activies drew on past experiences as a facilitator or participant from other creative laboratories (Splendid; CIA Sleepers Lab) the overarching framework developed by the artist provocateurs was experimental and untested. This was a process of research and development, finding common ground and working across disciplinary methods.  The opportunity to test these ideas within AWAL enabled a live feedback loop for future lab development and improvement.



Geographical Context

Starting from the creative context of each individual artist (by sharing images of personal workspaces / inspiring books etc) to the broader context of the lab, the initial stages of the AWAL utilised the local environment at Honeymoon Gap as creative context for artists to find common ground – through observation and action based responses to site.




Disciplinary Context: Reflection and exchange

During this stage, artists mapped their creative process by reflecting on past projects. This also entailed exploring communication methods in the way to articulate the why, where, when and how…


Artists shared these models or diagrams with each other. Points of intersection between practitioner’s disciplines opening up as places for potential collaboration, just as the differences provided new methods to explore / experiment with.




Forging and Testing

Utilising the architectural methodology of the ‘Charette’, an eight-hour creative pressure cooker was developed to forge and test creative connections between artists. This process put into practice previous investigations about process and collaborative structures, with activities shifting from the individual to the whole group over the course of the day.




Agency: working towards autonomous structures

This final stage attempted to enable artists to develop their own autonomous structure and ongoing / sustainable system of connection. This also shifted focus, broadening out to the re-entry into the world beyond the lab.



Thanks to the participating artists:  Claire Wieland, Mel Henderson, Sia Cox, Patricia Hay,  Kelly Lee, Jesse Cox,  Lizzy Sampson, Jodie Ahrens, Skye Loneragan, Tessa Zettel and Beth Sometimes, Watch This Space project team: Robyn Frances Higgins, Alice Buscombe and Dan Murphy, Sweatshop Creative, Doris Stuart (Sacred Sites Tour), MK Turner and the Turner family, Keith and Stella Castle and the local community for their hospitality and generosity.



This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts
funding and advisory body. Proudly supported by the Northern Territory Government.


This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Proudly supported by the Northern Territory Government.


Public Assembly respectfully acknowledges the past and present Traditional Custodians of the land on which the camp was be held.