Fremantle Stuff > arts. See also: artists, authors, creative writers, music, photographers, public art.


Art Collection

There is a Fremantle Art Collection, with more than 1400 items. A major exhibition called Panacea, 1 August - 20 September 2020, unusually showed the work of 78 - mostly local - artists.

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 actually there. They are in storage in Kewdale.

Art Galleries

The City of Fremantle owns no dedicated art gallery. There was one in the Stateships building 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.

'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.

ENKEL Naval Stores (the unsightly 'heritage' shed at the end of the Traffic Bridge) is used as a gallery, among other things.

The Moores Building in Henry Rd 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.

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 - including Toby Leek.

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

Whitespace Gallery is at 1 Pakenham Street.

EarlyWork Gallery is in South Terrace, cnr Wardie 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.

Building 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, which has fortunately now vacated, leaving that unit vacant at the time of writing.

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.

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 supported by the City of Fremantle, through its Emerging Artist Support Fund.

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

David Giles has his own gallery in a small shop at 49B High St.

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

As does Ben Joel.

Theo Koning has a website.

And Eveline Kotai.

Toby Leek had an exhibition in Febuary and another in October 2018, and 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.


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.


The Arcs d'Ellipses of Felice Varini was installed in October 2017 but did not begin to be taken down until the end of 2018, causing significant damage to the surfaces of the buildings to which it was attached, damage which was repaired at great cost.


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.

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


See the page for photographers.

Glen Cowans has a studio next to the Round House.


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, tho 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.

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


Fremantle now has no theatre - except for the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in the Stateships building in Pioneer Park.

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.

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


See the page for authors.

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.

Fremantle Art Collection

See the many links above.

Garry Gillard | New: 1 December, 2017 | Now: 9 May, 2021