The other issue that becomes particularly important when working in public is insurance. The reality is that insurance doesn’t have to cost the world if you’re just doing a couple of installations a year. You can take out your own stand alone policy or search out some collective insurance covers that some organisations offer to artists working in various disciplines.

There’s a number of policies worth considering when you’re working in public. They do add up in cost, but if you find yourself working on enough artworks to warrant them, you’re also likely to be in a position to put a little from each budget towards the insurances.

Public liability’s a bit of a no brainer and not without reason. Firstly, its kind of law. If you absolutely can’t afford it then make sure you negotiate with whoever’s commissioning the work to see if they can cover you with their existing policy or otherwise find some additional funds. If you do something and that something injures someone else, you’re responsible. Going hypothetical, you install a work that pokes someone in the eye, they’re blinded and also lose several months of work. Unless you’re in that tiny category of the independently wealthy, you’re not going to be able to afford to pay your blind friend’s bills. Your public liability insurance is designed to cover this kind of scenario. That’s a bit of a simplification which segues into OH&S, Risk Assessments, Safe Work Method Statements and the like which we’ll get to later on.

As well as injuring others, there’s good argument for looking after yourself. If you’re working for an employer then you should be covered by a Work Cover policy. There’s been a recent (and likely still current) change to allow retrospective work cover policies to be taken out to cover incidents occurring to employees and sub-contractors who earn less than (I think) $5,000 per year from you. Look into it more as it may be appropriate for some of the works you do.  If you’re a free-wheeling agent then best to look at some kind of Personal Accident & Illness cover. This generally incorporates income protection and means that if you do yourself a dis-service while working on a project, you’ve got some chance of maintaining an ‘income’ while you can’t work. Again, it’s a simplification and I’m not about to advise on any particulars but its worth looking into.

Depending on the nature of the work you’re doing you may want to look into taking out volunteer cover. Basically a variation on Work Cover but to cover volunteer labour on a project.

Then there’s arguably the original insurance – damage / theft etc. When working in public, and focusing on temporary works, there’s an argument that it’s not completely necessary. If a work’s exhibited at the mercy of the public and the elements, is it worth insuring and would a claim against loss or damage even be successful? A large scale work is very unlikely to be stolen. Smaller works, you kind of expect a good work to disappear occasionally. With regards damage, you may find it’s easier to just perform maintenance on the work to ensure it stays in a satisfactory state for as long as possible rather than taking out a policy that may or may not cover losses, but won’t necessarily remove the need for maintenance anyway. Why bother with the maintenance? I guess unless you’re working on the extreme guerilla end of things, people will know you’ve created the work, so it becomes an issue of how much you care about the connection between yourself and the perceived quality of your work.

There’s professional indemnity insurance as well, but insurers have found it difficult to justify selling this kind of insurance for artworks even when it’s been requested by a commissioning body.

That kind of summarises the insurances, except to say the exact insurances you should carry will vary depending on what structure you settle on and what scope or scale of artworks you’re looking at working on. None of the above should be considered as advice, just a really loose starting point for what you might need to look into more.

So two weeks flies by quickly when you’re working on a project. Although we managed to update a bit of the creative process as we went along, all the other conversations have accumulated until now.

Sometime early in the first week a few of us started having a spontaneous discussion about organisational structures and their tax implications for small arts collectives. I’m not qualified to advise anyone what to do, but there are a few flagable issues that are worth noting.

Firstly on the structures. . . In Australia you’ve  basically got four structures that might be relevant – sole trader, non-profit association, co-operative and company. Each has their pros and cons which you can explore fully elsewhere. To summarise, the structure you choose should really marry up to the amount of time you’re willing to spend administering the entity. We were talking specifically about a small group of half a dozen or so artists who all carry on private practices and generally have little interest in meetings and accounting.

The company structure is probably too large and onerous a thing to manage given the likely turnover of the entity. A sole trader setup is feasible but requires all the parties to understand that business is business and the creative decisions aren’t bound within that structure (ie. the sole trader kind of auspices the non-incorporated, loose collective of artists and probably receives some small payment from each job to do so). On the face, an incorporated non-profit association seems quite appropriate given it’s non-commercially focussed nature, but it still comes with not inconsiderable reporting and meeting requirements. I’ve never really explored the world of co-operatives, but from what I do understand, maybe this is the most appropriate as it allows everyone to maintain their own practices and come together as necessary for certain projects. Of course there’s always the non-incorporated association or ill-defined collective of hobbyists, but the headaches associated with billing for these ‘structures’ are maybe worth avoiding.

Moving into tax implications (which is what really sparked this discussion) a whole raft of issues open up. Again, don’t take this as advice, but rather a starting point to look into it all more.

Non-profit associations are able to self-assess as income tax exempt (or at least they were when I last checked a year ago). If the association’s yearly income is under $75,000 then you als0 don’t have to register for GST. All that combined means there’s less reporting on the financial front, but you still have your general meeting and reporting responsibilities for DFT. On the issue of GST you can also inadvertently run into problems when you’re receiving funding (no GST paid to you as you’re not registered) and paying suppliers who are registered (you’ll have to pay them GST). The end result can swing two ways. You either end up effectively only having 90% of your funding to spend on your project (the other 10% will go to suppliers in GST payments) or you find yourself having to find an additional 10% or so to pay suppliers their GST component. The alternative scenario that no one really likes is asking your suppliers to discount their bills by 10% because you’re not registered for GST. Unlikely to be popular with any supplier, its particularly dubious when you are paying ‘equal’ amounts to GST-registered and non-GST-registered suppliers. To offer, say, $100 to someone not registered for GST and $100 to someone registered for GST for performing the same task, if you’re not willing to pay the latter an additional $10 for GST, you’re effectively paying the first person $100 and the second person $90.91 for the same work. The world’s had centuries of imbalance with pay in the workplace – this is just another curious example of what might be regarded as discrimination. Best way to resolve – make sure you clarify whether you’re talking GST inclusive or exclusive and if you’re paying more than one person for the same amount of work, try your best to ensure they both end up with the same amount of money (GST isn’t a person’s money, it’s the ATO’s – we’re just doing a little tax collection for them along the way).

Tax implications for sole traders, companies and co-ops all have their own features and an accountant’s going to know best the ins and outs and most recent changes about rates and what you can claim. It’s a bit of strange and wild thing to get your head around if you’re not into numbers, but a good accountant should be able to listen to what you want to achieve, assess your figures and give you a suitable solution.

Insurance also has implications for the structure you settle on but more of that later.


Posted: July 13, 2010 in artists, public art, reef knot, sydney, underbelly

some progress pics… everyone is experimenting and constructing… its like a science lab!

…well, as with every good bubble there has to be a little pop now and then. Unfortunately Michele and George have had to drop out of the project due to other commitments. Ingrid has never really manifested so we are assuming she has canceled too.


opinion wall

Posted: July 13, 2010 in artists, public art, reef knot, sydney, underbelly

As well as pursuing physical works in the cracks of Kensington St, we are also interested in creating or beginning a dialogue about public art as well as contributing to a Public Art community.

We have created the ‘Wall’ which is a place for people to paste up their opinions and views on public art… We would love for this dialogue to continue online, here on this blog included. Feel free to make comments and we will add them onto the wall.

Some things to think about could be….

-What is your general view of Public Art?

-What is Public Art?

-What direction would you like to see Public Art heading in?

-Where does Public Art work best?

-What is your favourite piece / artist of Public Art?

-What is sustainable art practise?

Here are some of the opinions people have expressed so far:

“Because it puts your idea in a space what is malleable and fluid, and often really willing to receive. When you involve people who don’t know you, especially through tactile activity, in your idea you foster one of the most creative environments you can. Public art is sharing, and sharing makes the world a better place”.

“More Pubic Art in the Pubic Domain!
because the personal is always political! (No, the other way around)
AND * The public sphere is essentially a playground for Pleasure and the expression of meaning.
*Pubic spaces are actually personal (deeply personable) places.
*Pubic dialogue is crucial to the well being of the pubic enterprise.
*Pubic transport systems are also great places for pubic art!”

“Creating art for the public appeals to me because I enjoy recontextualising urban spaces so as to challenge people’s notions that these spaces are far more than just a transit medium”.

“Its what I do, I love interacting with people and them with my art☺”

“One very significant reason is that it takes art outside of the white walls of the gallery environment, thereby engaging with the broader public. It also forces you as an artist to become far more conscious of your built and natural environment, how you can create art that juxtaposes or creates a harmony with this environment”.

“More than anything I am keen to work with others and to see an outcome that could not have been imagined at its outset. I love bouncing off other peoples ideas and ways of working and then seeing our collaborative efforts out in the open where all can see and enjoy them”.

“The site specific construct is foremost in my interests in the creation of works. Drawing from the locale of site and adding a richer layer of complexity to public space is of great interest to me. The one liner in public art is of no interest to me, I always strive to draw out unforeseen, or unrecognised, characteristics of the locale and reveal them to the public. I always strive to do so in a way that has a complexity that is seen anew, and brings something new upon each viewing, albeit subtle at times”.

“I love stumbling upon wonderful things that spark my imagination or make me smile. It is so exciting to get people connecting to the world around them in new and interesting ways and I would love to be on the giving side of this relationship”.

“I am also studying architecture and I feel that the two are very related to each other. I see public art as an opportunity to engage with the community in a way that is much freer than architecture but still dealing with the same basic elements of of urban fabric. I think architecture and public art can work really well together, each creating opportunities for the other as well as providing opportunities for experimentation”.

“It brings art to the general public: people who are not necessarily inclined to visit a gallery or museum. Public art is vital in exposing everyone to different forms of art and expression”.

“Art for a public domain appeals to me because it is an inclusive activity that embraces its audience regardless of differences. Also the alteration of a space and creation of an experience is essential in getting the public to ‘stop and smell the flowers’ in spaces that are not designed for that purpose”.

“Because I believe art should be made accessible to everyone and we need to have more public art in Sydney. I also like the idea of using inner-city streets to create unexpected art spaces”.

“Challenging, responding to sites, using found objects and recycling materials, interaction with different audiences”

” I like the idea of a communal art project that is readily accessible to the public
whereby they readily engage with it on a daily basis. Not having the art displayed within the pristine walls of a gallery, to me, makes the art more “real” . People who may otherwise not visit a gallery will engage with the works simply by walking by, doing their everyday activities and therefore the art becomes part of their normal routine and in fact, hopefully enhances it. Art should be part of our everyday life.”

concept wall

Posted: July 13, 2010 in artists, public art, reef knot, sydney, underbelly

So we’ve moved into our workspace at Underbelly Arts. Its cosy with a couple of couches and heaps of space to make a mess.

We’ve put up everyone’s concepts on the wall so that we can easily document changes…

These are the talented artists we have selected to be part of our mini-public art project for Underbelly Arts:

Lucia Scurrah

Kyla Ring

Cara McLeod

Camillia Palmer

Michele Bently

Whitney Fitzsimmons

Michael Lewarne

Natalie Miles

Ingrid Dernee

George Hambov (Ape7)

Alli Sebastian Wolf

Beatrice Chew and Peggy Leong

Victoria Johnstone

Everyone is in a different stage of their career, from totally emerging to established, and all come from completely different backgrounds including architecture, design, painting, art teaching, sculpture, beaurocracy, graffiti, gangster, acrobat and lawnmower.

Each has a very different idea they would like to pursue for Underbelly Arts:


“Shrines”. Filled with secular oddball “deities” and garnished with small offerings (which can be
added to…) such as lights, flowers, toys, loved items, notes etc they could fit into some of the
grooves, holes and cavities of Kensington St. Some examples might be: Ode to hedonism; offering
to the good coffee bean; Saint of houses earmarked for renovation; Saint of truckees and taxi
drivers; Saint for the ultimate comfort shoe, Goddess of small insects and rodents etc etc.


To fill the cracks with recycled electronic parts (from remote controls etc) also appeals to me. I feel communication in society is breaking down, as the buildings are and dismantling some of the technology to fill those cracks is highly evocative to me. Also, the high degree of electronic waste is referenced.


I did a process based work in April based on hoarding and had actually wanted to use Kensington St,
perhaps I could build the final work for underbelly – might be possible miniature scale would certainly be
easy to collect materials for that scale. Chat to you in the lab about this one, see how the cookie crumbles
and bakes.


At the moment I am working on a sculptural piece called ‘mountain’. Please see attached
images. _If selected, I would like to create a work like this, an outline of jutting angular shapes that could
protrude out of small cracks… possible best cracks in walls because then the work could have a larger
bending and twisting shape without becoming an oh&s issue.__i would construct the work from found and
recycled timber. (this is very easy to source from skip bins and the like)


On the bus, On my way home, passing Redfern Station, 3 doors leaning against the wall. Check 1, materials
for filling in the cracks. Check 2, recycled books, photos, maps and paper fragments, for collage.
Cut out small shaped panels in response to cracks- doorways, empty niches in building facades, gaps
between brick and wire fences- and insert my plywood panels with some photo collage elements including
miniature figures inserted into the space which is both ‘picture plane’ and ‘void’.
Insert these 2d shaped plywood mixed media works into narrow/ uneven spaces, either with a 3D support to
stick into cracks, or with the aid of blue tac/ velcro dots, Preferrable as fixed as possible so as not pinchable
and so the public can enjoy them for the duration of underbelly


Something to do with found identities. You often find lying on the street or discarded in other places
objects that show a fragment of an identity eg a drivers licence that someone has lost, or a shopping list, or a
passport photo that has fallen from someone’s wallet. These always intrigue me and it would be interesting
to combine them in some way that recreates or at least creates a new identity or hints at someone else, as
though there is a crack of light being shone on them and the view you have of them is so obscured that you
are required to fill in the blanks yourself.


Alien Plants growing out of the Cracks.
Turing found objects, particularly e-waste, into strange b-grad science fictions plants, which will grow out of the street cracks as easily as weeds, but with more awesomeness. Some will be beautiful, some will be hungry for blood, but all will come from another world.


Another idea is to put words or poems or small pieces of sculpture in cracks or holes in the street and
buildings… and then cover them with clear resin or industrial glass – obviously something that withstand
wear and tear.


Light Filler An as yet unrealised project for lighting the residue of age and deterioration in our urban fabric.
LED’s run off watch batteries are placed in cracks in walls, in the pavement, where a frame has distorted and parted ways from a building, etc, etc, basically finding points of rest in unusual spaces and places that otherwise may have been dark and unnoticed by night, and thereby turning them into something special and notable. This work could be reconfigured through the course of the evenings, by the public or through invitation – it lends itself to a number of approaches.


Dealing with the issue of sustainability in a broad sense, a huge ʻproblemʼ facing us is population growth and urban density. One solution being considered is to redevelop our cities by going back and ʻfilling in the
cracksʼ between the existing urban fabric and redefining how the community relate to their urban
environment by providing more communal outdoor space and making more efficient use of space for private
dwellings and public spaces. The first idea is to represent this in the cracks of Kensington St, by proposing
to the public that these ʻcracksʼ can provide opportunities for new and different types of spaces and interaction with our built environment.
Not sure exactly what this would look like but would potentially be creating a miniature living space or
dwelling or representation of such in the cracks of Kensington St – could just contain elements that would
suggest inhabitation like wallpaper etc.
– Another possibility could be creating a community or family of dwellings growing out from one of the cracks.

Beatrice + Peggy

Tiny Greenhouses: Materials – Recycled glass bottles (size of thumb), seeds
The growing of seeds in a contained space has a notion of intimacy between object and owner as it is a
garden that you can carry around with ease. Tiny greenhouses are glass bottles with sprouts that the local
community can observe and eventually adopt. Ideas of a hanging system where they can be worn could also
be explored .


Basically a variation of a work I have already constructed. It involves little pieces of torn cardboard
eminating from a crack and in essence these pieces of cardboard reconstituting into a hand like figure along
the pavement.


TBA…. she is going to look at all the cracks and then decide what she would like to do.