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Five Questions with Simon Swingler on Art Worth Saving

Convent tenants collaborate for wildlife conservation

Art Worth Saving is an incredible initiative by Convent tenant Simon Swingler, which supports Australia’s endangered species and contributes to the regeneration of their habitats through the sale of artworks.

In late May this year, Simon presented the inaugural exhibition, Art Worth Saving at St Heliers Street Gallery. Now he, alongside several artists including Convent tenants David Booth aka Ghostpatrol, Rick Matear, and Cat Rabbit, is conducting a larger scaled version of the event at No Vacancy gallery in Naarm/Melbourne’s CBD.

We sat down with Simon Swingler to discuss the collaborative nature of the Convent and how this wonderful initiative came about. 

1.  Art Worth Saving’s purpose is to help raise awareness of the rapid decline of many Australian species, and to contribute to their preservation. When did you first become passionate about conservation?  

Our family subscribed to Australian Geographic magazine back in the 1980s. The magazine’s covers were beautifully illustrated by Australian artists and featured many incredible native species. The magazines were filled with stories of numbats, quolls and the elusive, possibly extinct, night parrot. A few editions in, and I was hooked.

2.  You are featuring the artwork of many Convent tenants in this next exhibition, how has the Convent allowed you to make new connections with fellow artists? Have they created new works for the exhibition specifically?  

“The Convent is home to many incredibly talented artists, but I had not collaborated with many of them until Art Worth Saving. David Booth and I had both sold artworks at last summer’s Convent pop-up shop, so that connection gave me the idea to invite him and other Convent artists to join me. The generous person that he is, David introduced me to a number of his artist friends, most of whom have contributed to the launch exhibition.

“Everyone involved in the exhibition has created an artwork for an Australian species they have an interest in. There are frogs, plants, mammals, insects, and fungi; a small cross section of the many tragic stories of endangered species playing out across our continent every day.”

3.  You presented Art Worth Saving earlier in the year. How did audiences receive the works? What were some things that surprised them?  

People were generally very encouraging and supportive of the initiative and its conservation theme, so I felt the experience was well received. People loved the work, with the Neglected Frog a firm favourite.  

4.  Can you tell us about the charities that these donations will be support?  

There are two organisations being supported by Art Worth Saving at this stage. Bush Heritage Australia is an independent not-for-profit, that buys and manages land, partnering with traditional owners and others to conserve our magnificent landscapes and irreplaceable native species forever. The Tasmanian Land Conservancy is a science and community-based organisation that raises funds from the public to protect irreplaceable sites and rare ecosystems by buying and managing private land in Tasmania. 

 5.  What other ways can people see  or buy works from  Art Worth Saving?  

Fine art prints are available to view and purchase in a variety of sizes on the Art Worth Saving website. You can also come to see these works in person at No Vacancy gallery and will feature works by fabulous Convent tenants David Booth aka Ghostpatrol, Rick Matear, Cat Rabbit, and Simon Swingler. Other artists whose work features in the exhibition, include Bayadherra, Eirian Chapman, Lucy Hardie, Andrea Innocent, Isabel Koslowsky, and Carla McRae.

Art Worth Saving

No Vacancy Gallery
34-40 Jane Bell Lane, 
QV Building, Melbourne  

Exhibition Dates:
Tuesday 16 – Sunday 28 August 

Opening Night:
6 – 8pm Thursday 18 August  

Everyone is welcome to attend the opening night. 

10% of each artwork sold will be donated to habitat conservation organisations Bush Heritage Australia and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.