Dispatch Review respectfully acknowledges the Whadjuk people as the traditional owners and custodians of the lands upon which we live, work and enjoy. We pay deep respect to Elders past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.


  1. At the End of the Land by Amelia Birch
  2. The beautiful is useful by Sam Beard
  3. ām / ammā / mā maram by Zali Morgan
  4. Making Ground, Breaking Ground by Maraya Takoniatis
  5. Art as Asset by Sam Beard
  6. Cactus Malpractice by Aimee Dodds
  7. Sweet sweet pea by Sam Beard
  8. COBRA by Francis Russell 
  9. PICA Barn by Sam Beard 
  10. Gallery Hotel Metro by Aimee Dodds
  11. A Stroll Through the Sacred, Profane, and Bizarre by Samuel Beilby
  12. Filling in the Gaps at Spacingout by Maraya Takoniatis
  13. Disneyland Cosmopolitanism by Sam Beard
  14. Discovering Revenue by Anonymous
  15. Uncomfortable Borrowing by Jess van Heerden
  16. It’s Not That Strange by Stirling Kain
  17. Hatched Dispatched by Sam Beard & Aimee Dodds
  18. F*ck the Class System by Jess van Heerden, Jacinta Posik, Darren Jorgensen, et al.
  19. Wild About Nothing by Sam Beard
  20. Paranoiac, Peripatetic: Pet Projects by Aimee Dodds
  21. An Odd Moment for Women's Art by Maraya Takoniatis 
  22. Transmutations by Sam Beard 
  23. The Post-Vandal by Sam Beard
  24. Art Thugs & Humbugs by Max Vickery
  25. Disneyland, Paris, Ardross and the artworld by Darren Jorgensen
  26. Bizarrely, A Biennale by Aimee Dodds
  27. Venus in Tullamarine by Sam Beard
  28. Weird Rituals by Sam Beard
  29. Random Cube by Francis Russell
  30. Yeah, Nah, Rockpool by Aimee Dodds
  31. Towards a Blind Horizon by Kieron Broadhurst
  32. Being Realistic by Sam Beard

Sweet pea’s 2023 exhibition program nears its conclusion with Boo Boo Ragout (mistake stew), a collection of new paintings by Iain Dean currently on display until Saturday 18 November. The work is a colourful regurgitation of influences, most prominently Colin McCahon and Brent Harris, the latter of whom mentored Dean some years ago. Dean’s show is a high-saturation and “deskilled” finale to a busy year at sweet’s pea’s 58 Pier St gallery. On top of maintaining a steady program of exhibitions, founder Andrew Varano has curated several shows at Lawson Flats featuring artists from the sweet pea stable. Lawson Flats—the Lynchian member’s club for Perth’s young, landed gentry—has cultivated its own reputation as an alternative establishment for arts and culture. It has also divided the scene: some see it as a club for young capitalists to show off their latest pieces from Dilettante, others consider it as means for fostering the kind of cultural and creative philanthropy so desperately needed in WA—a place where a curious, culturally-minded upper-middle class can congregate for alternative art experiences. It’s complicated. On top of all this activity, sweet pea also recently hit the road for Sydney Contemporary, where it held its inaugural stall. In all, Varano has worked tirelessly to situate sweet pea as one of Perth’s leading, perhaps only, alternative commercial galleries.
        Parallel to this activity, sweet pea is supported by funding from the DLGSC, programs events like the recent Un Magazine launch, and maintains a sporadic online journal of interviews and writings. At first, these activities are more expected from a so-called “ARI” (Artist Run Initiative) and, I first thought, at odds with sweet pea’s function as a commercial gallery—this duality of ARI/commercial gallery evidenced in recent articles in Un Projects and Art Collector Magazine.1
        Sweet pea represents WA artists including Curtis Taylor, Nathan Beard, Jess Tan, Bruno Booth, Tim Meakins and Emma Buswell. For the latter three, “play” is an integral quality, and their most recent respective exhibitions certainly have avoided any overt commerciality. They felt like ARI shows (if you will excuse this anecdotal “vibe check”). The gallery is simple, crisp, playful, and funky, conjuring a mellow and measured ambience. Sweet pea’s online presence is, to me, a touch too sweet—saccharine—but defined, distinct, and in-vogue. This deliberate sense of play is consistent with the experimental intention of an ARI. Experimentation often runs the risk of varied outcomes—in many respects, these risky and varied outcomes are part of the appeal of many ARIs. It is also incongruous with the intentions of the average commercial gallery. Perhaps this is why I perceive sweet pea’s “sincere playfulness” as twee: a combination of democratising playfulness and aggrandising earnestness which codes the gallery as both egalitarian and accomplished.
        During a debate with friends I was alerted to the possibility that this “dialectic” of experimental and commercial space had already been synthesised elsewhere. Spaces like Melbourne’s Neon Parc had, years prior, successfully fused the logics of experimental arts and commercial galleries. For sweet pea, this fusion seems successful also.
        Sweet pea’s presence at Sydney Contemporary offers further insights. Along with them, only two other WA galleries held stalls: Moore Contemporary and Art Collective WA. Perhaps from outside WA this selection might appear a rather average cross-section of a gallery scene; an artist-run commercial space (Art Collective), a more customary contemporary gallery (Moore), and an alternative commercial space (sweet pea). All three have distinct stables of contemporary WA artists. From inside the WA art world each represent a significant proportion of the gallery scene, as well as a quantity of WA’s artists with interstate careers. So, perhaps one could be forgiven for viewing sweet pea as an oddity, a hybrid—however, parallels are plentiful.
        Notwithstanding, the hybrid model remains mysterious to me. Is sweet pea perceived as an ARI within the State, and a commercial gallery outside of WA? A home for local artists, and a platform for WA artists to be viewed in concert with national counterparts? Is this straddling of art worlds symptomatic of WA’s precarious gallery scene—i.e., do our local conditions necessitate practices that are at odds with the expectations held outside the State? If so, this surely qualifies sweet pea as one of WA’s most nimble commercial galleries.
        And just to circle back to the DLGSC funding—do WA commercial galleries need government funding? Probably yes, at least until we see the wealthiest state in Australia develop a taste for collecting its own art.

1. Two recent articles, in Un Project and Art Collector Magazine respectively, with the same author demonstrates these multiple perceptions of sweet pea. In Un Project, curator and writer Jessyca Hutchens described sweet pea as having “the gentleness and experimental feel of an ARI”, and also listed sweet pea in a “new dealer” section of Art Collector, recognising the gallery’s commercial purpose.

Photos by Document Photography, courtesy of sweet pea, featuring work by Jack Ball and Nathan Beard at Sydney Contemporary 2023.