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Australian society neglects the labour of visual artists. Artists are asked what they do for their ‘real job’ – what pays the bills?

Artists and artworkers are frequently exploited due to the unregulated nature of the industry, insufficient funding and lack of union coverage. Peak body recommended rates of pay are routinely ignored. Many are nervous to criticise institutional practices lest they ‘bite the hand that feeds them’. Art is often considered separate from life, a trick that benefits those extracting profit from artists’ labour: if art isn’t work, then it doesn’t need to be remunerated.

Forming the Workers Art Guild, Noel Counihan was an artist and activist who made art in response to economic hardship. Artists in this two-part exhibition are organisers, activists and workers. What better place to discuss the value of artists’ labour?

Artists in this two-part exhibition, across Counihan and Seventh galleries are organisers, activists and workers, who believe art is work.

This exhibition includes work by Aaron Billings, Amelia Dowling, Anna Dunnill, Ben Juers, David Haidon, Tia Kasambalis, Judy Kuo, Danni McGrath, Hollie Moly, Stephen Palmer, Nina Ross, Madeleine Thornton-Smith and Catherine Story. Curated by Madeleine Thornton-Smith.

Accessibility information

This exhibition is on display next to an exhibition that includes sound and moving images. Due to the varied sensory experience on display, this exhibition may be a difficult environment for visitors who experience sensory overload.


Counihan Gallery
Phone: 03 9389 8622

Further information

For exhibition updates you can follow the Counihan Gallery Instagram page. You can also go to the Counihan Gallery Facebook page.

This exhibition is in the Middle Gallery.