The Case for IRL Digital Art Galleries

By Beatrice Madamba

‘Digital’ and ‘IRL’ are probably two words that you don’t hear in the same sentence when talking about crypto art. NFTs are just for the digital world, right? Wrong. These curators are bringing NFT artists into the real world with the opening of two new gallery spaces in Melbourne.

Jane Rolls and GT Sewell are NFT veterans

Take a first look at ‘A New View’, a digital, public art installation located in Collingwood, Melbourne. This exhibition is curated and created in-house by GT Sewell and his partner Jane, two emerging forces in Australia’s NFT space. Working once as a gallerist and fine art printer, GT previously ran a gallery for seven years, before moving his practice to digital. In early 2019, they had plans to start a curated NFT platform to assist onboard Australian artists into the NFT space. By 2020, GT and Jane established 4RC4DE (previously known as MilkBar), the world’s first ‘IRL’ NFT art gallery space, situated right here in Australia. But as the (not-so) old story goes – the pandemic hit.

But even through such tumultuous times, Jan 2021 saw GT and Jane help launch Australia’s very first ‘IRL’ NFT exhibition, ‘Future Art’, one that toured Sydney and Melbourne. Now with their print business sold last year, the pair are more ready than ever to focus on bringing their vision to life: bringing the crypto art space into the real world.

‘A New View’ features the works of @rhett, @markinducil, @natehillphoto and Justine McAllister. The public installation was a product of hard-work and curation which took place well-over a month. In a twitter thread, GT thanks his partner for single-handedly installing 95% of the exhibition. “She made all the installation props, installed everything, wallpapers/TVs/lighting… I mean EVERYTHING!”

But that’s not all. A 700m2 space is yet to open in Cremorne to join a hub of crypto companies already situated in the building. Kyall Walker, a Crypto-Natives DAO, aims to establish co-working spaces, meeting rooms and a media space, as well as an NFT exhibition/event space for the evenings, managed by a DAO.

But why are ‘IRL’ digital art galleries so significant?

Not many people know about the NFT world, let alone the value of the growing digital art market. Companies like 4RC4DE are working tirelessly to merge the gap between the digital and the physical in order to get the word out there about the value of crypto art whilst educating those who are new to the scene. Exhibition spaces enable talented artists – especially those emerging – to showcase their work beyond the digital realm and to the eyes of the general public.

But I think it’s also about the spectacle. Yes, you could view the art on your iPhone or desktop screen, but it’s a whole other level when you witness an artwork in all its grandeur in a physical gallery space. It’s not just about the art, but the experience of viewing it; engulf yourself in the space and in the art and you will garner a newfound appreciation for it.

So, if you happen to be in Collingwood right now, or perhaps Cremorne in the not-so-distant future, pay a visit to these gallery spaces – you won’t regret it.

New space opening up in Cremorne wants NFT artist feedback.