“I feel so lucky to be a part of Movers and Makers again,” says Kalanjay Dhir. “I made another artwork for the event in 2017 and even though I am making very different work now, it was such a formative experience for me.”
 

A Parramatta local, currently working out of Parramatta Artists’ Studios, Kalanjay Dhir has been commissioned for an installation for Movers and Makers 2019 and is excited about the opportunity. The “failed viral content creator” explores “near-futurism, pan-Asian spirituality, acceleration in pop culture and mythological technologies” in his artworks and is grateful for the chance to exhibit his work. “It’s great to have an audience to show it to,” he says, “which means I have to get it to a standard where I’m not only happy with it but it also makes sense for them.”

“Movers and Makers is a huge opportunity for artists who haven’t connected with the art world before.”

At Parramatta Artists’ Studios’ Movers and Makers event, artists will have access to Australia’s leading arts organisations in One Plus One, a program for artists to speak directly to representatives from contemporary art spaces. “The One Plus One program was the first opportunity I had as a young artist to talk about my work formally and to meet a curator,” Kalanjay says. “Movers and Makers is a huge opportunity for artists who haven’t connected with the art world before.”

For Kalanjay, Movers and Makers was a “natural next step” when fresh out of art school, a friend pointed the event out to him. “It was so great to see artists working near where I grew up and realising that my industry was bigger than I expected and that it was a viable thing, to become an artist,” he says. The experience also made him realise that the focus on the community is essential to the arts. “Coming from school,” he says, “you’re so focused on your individual work and process but Movers and Makers made me think about how much these things elevate the stories of people who normally don’t have access to the opportunity to tell those stories.”

A key part of the Movers and Makers event is a series of panel discussions that highlight professional opportunities for artists and tackle key issues in the arts. The talks are a chance for aspiring artists to hear insider knowledge directly from artists and arts workers about how they can make their next career move. Kalanjay thinks the ethos behind the event is unique because most institutional spaces don’t have a direct line to a curator.  “I was just out of art school,” he says. “I had no connections. Riding my bike to the event was a really exciting experience as I have always had to catch two trains and a bus to get to anything art related. Just seeing it in my community, in my neighbourhood, was really exciting.”

 
 
Networking at Movers and Makers 2018

Movers and Makers 2018

Artist in Studio at Movers and Makers 2018

Movers and Makers 2018

Breakfast at Movers and Makers 2018

Movers and Makers 2018

Speakers at Movers and Makers 2018

Movers and Makers 2018

Movers and Makers 2018

Movers and Makers 2018

Movers and Makers 2018

Movers and Makers 2018

Networking at Movers and Makers 2018
Artist in Studio at Movers and Makers 2018
Breakfast at Movers and Makers 2018
Speakers at Movers and Makers 2018
Movers and Makers 2018
Movers and Makers 2018

Movers and Makers is for creative practitioners particularly from the West but it’s also for the general community who want to learn a bit more about artists working in the area. Throughout the day, participants will have the opportunity to visit open studios and experience other installations by artists Emma Fielden and Del Lumanta. Kalanjay says the artworks will all be quite different but what they’ll have in common is grand themes and ambition. “My work is about the James Webb Space Telescope,” he says. “It’s going to take over the Hubble telescope in 2021 and I’m really into it. My generation grew up watching the Mars Rover and there’s something quite spiritual about these large objects we send into the universe. It’s almost a kind of spirituality.”

“The first Movers and Makers I went to, I just never knew these things existed, it helped me realise the possibilities.”

For Kalanjay, attending Movers and Makers was an opportunity to learn about the art community – a chance for him to develop connections, access new audiences and expand his practice within new contexts. “The first Movers and Makers I went to, I just never knew these things existed,” he says. “It helped me realise the possibilities.”

So what are the possibilities, for Western Sydney artists today? Space is one thing, Kalanjay says, and visibility. “If I didn’t have Parramatta Artists’ Studios. I’d probably move. It gave me a reason to realise this is my workplace.” Kalanjay also says that art is one of those rare fields which offers the space to integrate different interests. “I can put all my disparate fields of research together in one in one place,” he says. “For example, I’m a Hindu but I read a lot of sci-fi. I love space stuff and reality TV and pop culture. It’s a field where I can put all these interests and influences together.”

Parramatta is Kalanjay’s creative base and he is excited to locate his practice in Parramatta long-term.  “There is pride in my generation of artists in terms of being a Western Sydney artist, or Western Sydney muso. It’s an exciting time.” 

Kalanjay Dhir in his studio at Parramatta Artist Studios, 2017. Photo credit: Alex Wisser

Movers and Makers is on at Parramatta Artists’ Studios on Saturday, 25 May. Visit the event page to see the full program.