photo-icon Rosina Possingham

A creative approach to 'show and sell'

Cultural Heart People of Adelaide

Pop into the sculpture courtyard at the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) over the next month or so and a brightly coloured vending machine sporting the words ‘Crochet Your Character’ is sure to catch your eye. For the crafty or simply curious, we encourage you to get up close and interactive with this unconventional but purely delightful piece of public art.

Artist carly snoswell and art vending machines australia
photo-icon Rosina Possingham

L-R: ART VENDING MACHINES AUSTRALIA CREATOR STEPH CIBICH And artist Carly Snoswell with 'the Adelaide Art Vending Machine' at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Emerging curator Steph Cibich is the founding force behind Art Vending Machines Australia (AVMA) – a public art initiative that came to life in 2018 while she was undertaking an internship at AGSA as part of her Master of Arts (Curatorial and Museum Studies) degree at the University of Adelaide. For Steph, public art is essential to the city’s cultural landscape.

“Public art has the capacity to activate the public realm in exciting and unexpected ways and provide shared community experiences. But public art can offer much more than just aesthetic enrichment; it provides opportunities for people to connect, which is critical in our increasingly dis-connected society.”
Steph Cibich, Founder, Art Vending Machines Australia.

At its heart, AVMA aims to provide opportunities at both ends of the art experience. For the makers, its about providing artists with alternative and accessible display spaces – in this case, a recycled vending machine – and a chance to expand their practice and connect with new audiences. For the viewer, it’s a chance to discover art in unconventional spaces and experience it in new and interesting ways

The plan is for the art vending machines to ‘pop-up’ in different public locations for up to three months, with new artists engaged each time to ensure every interaction brings a new discovery.

“The idea is that each time a machine finds a new, temporary home, it takes on another life,” said Steph. “The machine’s pop-up nature is integral to their ability to offer accessible, unique activations of public space. So, each machine will only be available for up to three months at a time, offering a fresh and limited art experience.”

The Adelaide Art Vending Machine* currently at AGSA is the first physical iteration of Steph’s initiative and features new artwork by emerging artist Carly Snoswell and a design by Rosina Possingham – both fellow Adelaidean creatives.

“Carly’s work examines textiles and DIY craft-making as a devotional impulse fuelled by fandom,” said Steph. “She questions the motivations of fandom and examines how this infatuation can lead to creative output and contribute towards a stronger sense of personal identity.”

Carly’s take on the first Adelaide Art Vending Machine draws in part from her own childhood where she first learnt handicraft techniques through stitch-by-numbers style craft kits. The artworks inside the machine at AGSA are based on Japanese Amigurumi crochet patterns and informed by 90s Nintendo gaming characters.

Carly snoswell crochet your character detail 2019 image 2
photo-icon Rosina Possingham
Carly snoswell crochet your character detail 2019
photo-icon Rosina Possingham

Carly Snoswell, 'Crochet Your Character' (detail) for Art Vending Machines Australia, 2019, recycled wool, dimensions varied. 

“By repeating and isolating certain patterns, Carly creates strange and wonderful creatures,” said Steph. “The absurdity of multiple feet, hands and other semi-recognizable elements create animated sculptures. It becomes a puzzle as to what character the object embodies. She’s also designed DIY kits so audiences may create their own whacky creature, making it a form of collaboration; created by fans, for fans and providing an experience for viewers to make their own fan-made object.”

You might be wondering by now – how exactly does this work? Is it as simple as inserting some coins, pressing ‘B5’ and waiting for a Pineapple Juice to fall to the pick-up drawer? Well, yes and no. How you interact with the Adelaide Art Vending Machine is up to you.

“Although AVMA’s main objective is to vend, these machines also function as alternative display spaces. So, viewers may decide to simply view the installations and appreciate their temporary activation of public space,” said Steph. “Alternatively, they may wish to purchase unique and affordable artworks from the machine. This engagement can then extend online through social media platforms as people can share their experiences, support the artist and connect with their local arts community.”

Adelaide art vending machine interior detail
photo-icon Rosina Possingham

Carly Snoswell, 'Crochet Your Character,' The Adelaide Art Vending Machine by Art Vending Machines Australia, 2019.

As part of Carly’s adaptation of the machine, packs can be purchased for an affordable price of $5 in a lucky dip approach.

“This means that one in every ten packs includes a unique, crocheted artwork by Carly, while the remaining packs include a crochet kit with the artist’s personalised instructions.”

To the delight of everyone involved, community response to the first Adelaide Art Vending Machine at AGSA, installed since October, has been amazing.

“We’ve been completely taken back by the support we’ve received,” said Steph. “It’s definitely been a mix of audiences too. Many have come from the arts and crochet communities, but we’ve also had a lot of positive support from students, locals, visitors from interstate and overseas and interest from businesses and other venues wondering how they can get involved.”

While the next iterations of the Adelaide Art Vending Machine are still in planning mode, Steph’s looking forward to collaborating with various artists working in different mediums.

“I welcome interested visual artists to get in touch via AVMA’s Facebook page and let me know about their practice, some ideas for their own potential ‘take over’ and their availabilities.”

The Adelaide Art Vending Machine at AGSA will be on display for a while longer but, given the 'pop-up' nature of these machine, we’d encourage you to get along sooner rather than later!

*AVMA’s first iteration of the Adelaide Art Vending Machine is supported by the Art Gallery of South Australia, and the City of Adelaide through the Arts & Cultural Grant Program.

Article by

Skye Murtagh

Skye Murtagh

Skye is passionate about sharing stories from all walks of life. When she's not busy weaving beautiful words together, she's singing a line or two from her favourite song.