Maintaining Christ Church
Art and Christ Church
Solution:Artefact Church Square Purpose
Office for Sustainable Art and Art Historical Practice
Municipal Arts Library
Centre for International Curatorial Research, Artists Residency and Gallery
What can you do to help
Maintaining a livelihood for Artists
60% of professional artists across all artforms in Australia earn less than $10,000 per year from creative work. For this, they have striven an average of six years to obtain basic qualifications, with 42% committing to an additional four years to obtain further qualifications.
With supplemented income, professional artists subsequently earn a median of $42,200; when professions with comparable basic-qualifications find managers earning $69,500 and accountants, lawyers and teachers earning $73,400.
After working a 45-hour week visual artists, for example, with a median income of just $34,400 end up with $24,900 after studio expenses and taxes, which is $2,000 under the poverty line.
Between 2008 and 2015, the total income for artists across all artforms decreased by 4.2%, with this trend potentially continuing.
While self-determination is the hallmark of artistic endeavour, deep within the excellence that Australian artists maintain, is an underbelly of exploitation federal, state and local governments perpetuate through a lack of protective measures in their arts policies, either by design (the federal government is without an arts policy) or unwittingly.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Maintianing Christ Church
The Christ Church Complex of ecclesiastic buildings in St Kilda was initially bound on three sides by a perimeter road called ‘Church Square’ and, accordingly, referred to as Church Square on Acland Street. This last known Church Square in Victoria was given to the Anglican Church by the State in 1850. It was the product of an inherited Act from NSW upon separation, which was marred by petitions from the outset stating, for example, that such ‘patronage of religion by the State is strongly to be deprecated and condemned as unjust in its character and mischievous in its operation’. The Act was soon abolished.
Before it was abolished, though, a nascent congregation of Anglicans were granted this block on Acland St. It remains whole without subdivision in title or plan, much to the enterprise and credit of succeeding congregations. As such, the block’s rare unity transforms it into the last known physical remnant of a brief if not chastised moment in Victoria’s past, in an attempt to install social cohesion through town planning. It can be seen, here, in the inward orientation of residences surrounding Church Square so that they each address the church at their centre. Parishioners leave of an evening, while facing residences stay put and attentive. The social contract implicit in this arrangement between the church and locals, is embedded. For if, in 1850, for argument’s sake, upon word of the granted land, the church immediately sold it for a bountiful return, the widely unpopular Act would have more likely been abolished before the church finally received the land’s deeds in 1855, instead of taking until 1871.
This last known Church Square is therefore caught between its civic history of social utility, its private ownership by the Anglican Church, and a devoutly dedicated congregation’s unmet efforts to raise $4.5 million through direct funding, for Christ Church’s urgent repair.
Art and Christ Church
For time immemorial, churches have elevated their mission through art—music, paintings, frescoes, sculptures and architecture—for the greater inclusion of a congregation and resonant meaning. Christ Church, St Kilda, built 1854–7, is no different. It heralds Geometric Gothic Revival style architecture (c. 1300) by Charles Swyer (1825–76), stained glass windows by leading artisans of the time, and an organ built in 1859 by William Hill of London, the earliest Hill organ known to be shipped to an Australian church.
Solution: Artefact Church Square Purpose
Our purpose is to conserve the unity of Church Square as a living artefact that amplifies the social resonance of its heritage significance, for both parishioners and locals alike, by raising indirect funding to repair Christ Church through an alternative redevelopment of the Bishop’s Residence, with parallel ambitions to make Australian art, art history, Christ Church and Church Square’s ongoing maintenance, sustainable.
To pursue this purpose
Artefact Church Square will continue to seek permission from the Diocese to access information necessary to compile a fully funded alternative proposal, to present to the Diocese for consideration. The alternative proposal will restore the Bishop’s Residence and redevelop it to include an:
• Office for Sustainable Art and Art Historical Practice; a
• Municipal Arts Library; and a
• Centre for International Curatorial Research with an Artist Residency and Gallery.
In its first instance, Artefact Church Square—with its current Board and Subcommittees—will continue to instigate the alternative proposal, seek permission from the Diocese and manage the redevelopment.
In its second instance once redevelopment is complete, Artefact Church Square will reform to reflect the art and heritage representatives comprising Church Square, including the:
• Arts Library;
• Office for Sustainable Art and Art Historical Practice;
• Centre for International Curatorial Research with an Artist Residency and Gallery;
• Theatre Works; and
• Christ Church in its heritage, non-religious capacity concerning, for instance, Christ Church’s:
• • Architectural integrity and sculptural presence;
• • Organ (earliest Hill organ exported to an Australian Church);
• • Stained glass windows; and
• • Garden
Once Christ Church is restored, the income distribution of rental revenue from the redevelopment will be renegotiated to ensure all the art and heritage components comprising Church Square are properly maintained.