Freotopia > arts

See also: artists, authors, creative writers, music, photographers, public art, Biennale.


Fremantle Art Collection |Art Galleries | Collectives | Artists' studios | Ceramics | Cinema | Circus | Dance | Events | Music | Sculpture | Textiles | Theatre

Art Collection

There is a Fremantle Art Collection, with more than 1400 items. The collection began with the Claude Hotchin bequest in 1958, and had its own home in Pioneer Park 1978-87. Since then the Collection has been under the direction of curator André Lipscombe. I'm sure he takes very good care of it, but I wish he would regularly share some of it. It is now notionally at the Asylum, tho there are usually not any works at all actually there. (They are all in storage in Kewdale.) A major exhibition called Panacea, 1 August-20 September 2020—unusually—showed the work of 78 (mostly) local artists.

Art Galleries

The City of Fremantle owns no dedicated art gallery. There was one in the Stateships building (more recently a puppet theatre) in Pioneer Park, 1978-87. There is one room in the FAC (Asylum) which is supposed to be dedicated to and therefore show some of the Local Collection (the words are painted on the fanlight over the door of the main gallery room) but there is almost never any local art in it. There is also a Kathleen O'Connor Room - which never has any work by C.Y. O'Connor's daughter in it. The name has been conveniently forgotten.

'Old' Customs House, 8 Phillimore Street. Artsource has leased (most of?) this large building from the Council since 1986, to house artists studios. The groundfloor gallery (which used to be the space of the WA Circus School and before that Deckchair Theatre) is available for showing work of various kinds. For example, the 2019 Fremantle Biennale showed 'Sleeping with the Sun' - the work of Kayako Nakashima, 2-24 November 2019 - while Sam Bloor's work was visible in the windows in Phillimore Street. Kepa Kalyakoorl – Aquiferous was installed in the building for the 2021 Biennale.

ENKEL Naval Stores (the unsightly 'heritage' shed at the end of the Traffic Bridge) is used as a gallery, among other things. The opening of the third Biennale was held there, and some of the installations.

The Moores Building in Henry Street contains a number of gallery spaces.

Joanna Robertson runs a small two-room gallery on Bathers Beach called Kidogo Arthouse (from the Kiswahili word for 'small'). The building used to be Joan Campbell's pottery workshop, and before that a kerosene store.

The Artisan Store run by Rowena Mitchell at 81a High Street shows the work of a large number (she claims 150+) of artisans and artists (no longer including Toby Leek).

Japingka Gallery, 47 High Street, shows Aboriginal artworks in order to sell them.

Whitespace Gallery is at 1 Pakenham Street, in the former Tolley Bond Store.

EarlyWork Gallery is in South Terrace, cnr Wardie Street.

Treasure Gallery shows the work of Adriana Treasure in a house at 4 Stirling Street.

Artists Studios

There's a large number of artists in Fremantle, some with studios at their own premises, and some with small studios in buildings made available for that purpose.

Buildings with a number of studios

J Shed has four or five units, all of which are supposed to be used by artists, but the one at the southern end with the glass wall and the best view and the best light was nonsensically let by the City to an entrepreneur/promoter Sunset Events. That studio, Unit 1, is now used by sculptor Jina Lee.
Greg James Sculpture has been there since 1992, when the J Shed studios were established, and is centrepiece of the building, at Unit 2.
Jenny Dawson has her Ceramics Studio next to him, at Unit 3. She shares it with her partner, photographer Peter Zuvela.
The Art of Freo Gallery, manager Ellen McCarthy, at Unit 4, was at the northern end. Her husband Ross Potter had his own space in it, while the larger area was used for other exhibitions, such as the photography of Kylie Richardson. She was followed by mixed media artist Rachel Doller. Art of Freo is/was supported by the City of Fremantle, through its Emerging Artist Support Fund.
Greg Baker's show in the Greg James Studio, J Shed, was in December 2021.

PSAS (Pakenham Street Art Space aka PS Artspace), corner of Pakenham and Short Streets, in the former Shipstores building. The name of the coffeeshop, Studio 37, was chosen because there are 36 artists studios in the building, on two floors. There is a space on the groundfloor used as a gallery.

Artists with their own studios/galleries/websites

Penny Bovell's website. And Wikipedia page.

David Giles has his own gallery in a small shop at 49B High St. He is or was also working in a pilot's cottage on Arthur Head.

George Haynes and Jane Martin, Spearwood Studios, 27 Sussex St Spearwood (technically not in Fremantle, but in the City of Cockburn).

Ben Joel.

(The late) Theo Koning (d. 2021) had a website.

Eveline Kotai.

Toby Leek had an exhibition in Febuary and another in October 2018, and his photographs of many of his paintings of heritage buildings are distributed through this site, with his permission, on the relevant pages.

Larry Mitchell used to work at home, near Fremantle, and is known for his Rottnest and Abrolhos paintings, and his rendering of water.

Ken Rasmussen has a website and shows works from his studio in East Fremantle.

Multidisciplinary artist Timbo Roberts works as a visual artist (most recently a muralist) and photographer as well as in music. He also teaches mindfulness.

David Spencer has a website from which he sells work.


Joan Campbell was Fremantle's leading potter until her death in 1997. She had her workshop in what is currently the Kidogo art space on Bathers Beach.

Jenny Dawson has a workshop and small gallery in her studio in Unit 3 of J Shed.

Zinongo Gallery, 47 Lefroy Road, shows the work of Zimbabwean potter Njalikwa Zongwe.

Emerging potter Felicity Bodycoat shows her work on her Instagram page.


Fremantle has no art cinema. There was one in Adelaide Street: Port Cineaste. It was demolished some years ago so that a hotel could be built there, but it's now merely yet another carpark, where a condo is proposed to be built.


The WA Circus School was in the Customs Building on the north side of Phillimore Street, but is now in a tent next to Clancy's Tavern on Princess May Park.


Fremantle has no dance school. There is one just outside its boundary, in Hamilton Hill, in the former Newmarket Hotel.


There has been a City of Fremantle Symphony Orchestra since 1911. Its present musical director is David Pye. 'With a regular membership of about 60 amateur musicians we present about 5 concerts each year including a subscription series of concerts at the Fremantle Town Hall and performances in other venues around Perth.'

There is also a Fremantle Chamber Orchestra, directed by Hans Hug.

Individual bands/musicians with pages on this site: the Sensitive New Age Cowpersons, the Jam Tarts, Hammer and Tongues, the Fling, Gary Burke, Kavisha Mazzella. See the separate music page for more details.

There are several choirs in or near Freo: the Singsingsing Pub Choir, The Fremantle Women's Choir, and many more.


Greg James has a small gallery in his studio in Unit 2 of J Shed. Some of his work is in public places in Fremantle.

Tony Jones lives in East Fremantle, though his studio is in O'Connor, the industrial suburb named after C.Y. O'Connor, one of whose memorials was made by this sculptor. Examples of his work are in public places around Fremantle.

Jina Lee works in Unit 1 of J Shed.

There is an annual exhibition of Sculpture on Bathers Beach (Manjaree), following the idea of 'Sculpture on the Beach' at Cottesloe.


Kate Weedon-Jones was working and showing in Unit 4, J Shed, in 2021. See her in Instagram. She also has a page at the FAC. She and her colleagues are showing and selling their work 10-12 December 2021.

Another artist working in Unit 4 was Rose Megirian who makes clothing, jewellery, and art works of various kinds. Instagram page. Show Friday-Sunday 10-12 December 2021.


Harbour Theatre, which used to be resident in the Port Cinema, has moved to Mosman Park. The cinema building was demolished years ago for a hotel which has never been built. Harbour Theatre is now using the former Camelot Cinema, 16 Lochee Street, Mosman Park, an art deco building.

Deck Chair Theatre received no financial support and has ceased to exist.

For children, Fremantle had the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in the Stateships building in Pioneer Park, taking up a large proportion of what was and is supposed to be a community park. The building is not fit for any purpose and should be demolished. A puppet theatre could be accommodated almost anywhere – and is now in fact in Claremont, at the showgrounds. Traditionally, a Punch & Judy show occupies about 2 square metres.

Maritime Museum. For a brief couple of weeks in September 2023, the audiotorium in the Museum is being used to stage of a production of Ingle Knight's play Taking Liberty. The moment was the 40th anniversary of the winning of the America's Cup.

Fourth Wheel Theatre, in South Fremantle, makes 'podcasts' (audio recordings) of radio plays – and pantomimes, which they perform in the street.

References and Links

Errington, Steve 2017, 'Fremantle 1829-1832: an illustrated history', Fremantle Studies, 9: 15-29.

Lipscombe, André 2008, Fertile Ground: Fifty Years of the Fremantle Art Collection, Fremantle Press.

Lipscombe, André 2019, 'Revealing the City of Fremantle Art Collection', talk given to the Fremantle History Society in 2016, not published until 27 October 2019, in Fremantle Studies, volume 10.

Meston, Natasha 2022, 'The City of Fremantle Symphony Orchestra: a history', Fremantle Studies, 11: 55-80.

Fremantle Art Collection

Fremantle Biennale.

Garry Gillard | New: 1 December, 2017 | Now: 13 May, 2024