Imagine if beautiful artworks were found only in intimidating galleries, not easily accessible to everyday people?

This is a question West End residents Marilyn Trad and Jason Grant asked themselves before creating TRACE, an outreach project designed to celebrate the fundamental importance of art by bridging the divide between artist and audience. As part of the initiative, fabulous artworks are shown at the local grocer, locksmith, restaurants and other local businesses, in an annual celebration of art.

“Often it’s an unexpected encounter. Seeing art outside the rarefied confines of a formal, neutral gallery context can be surprising. It can inspire new ways of looking at both the art and our neighbourhood,” say Trad and Grant.Full of excitement after visiting a Slovenian primary school that doubled as a gallery back in 2009, Jason envisioned TRACE as a way of engaging the community with contemporary art while raising funds for local charity Community Plus+.

However, TRACE is not alone in its ingenuity. “There is a tradition, mainly since the 1960s,

whereby artists have investigated different ways to exhibit art outside of purpose-built galleries and museums. Often this would occur in rented spaces, or in derelict or abandoned buildings, or in laneways or places where art could only be seen from trains, buses or cars. Art was exhibited in this way as a means to reject cultural elitism that seemed to be associated with certain art, and to press for art being part of everyday life.”

Now a graphic designer at Inkahoots studio, Jason’s love for design began when he saw the works of artists both in Australia and abroad. “I’m always inspired by designers and artists who do their thing regardless, or in spite of, the market; in Australia, political poster collectives like Earthworks and Redback Graphix; and others like Grapus in France and Vaughn Oliver in the UK.”Co-founder Marilyn Trad was similarly drawn to contemporary works, especially art by Indigenous Australians. “I can’t get enough of the ‘birds-eye view’ landscapes, activist art, abstracts and story lines,” she said. “To me, art tells the story of a person who is in a particular place at a particular point in time.

Seeing Richard Bell’s Both Ways painting hanging in Ralph’s Garage, for example, is fantastic. What does it mean? ‘WE HAVE TO SHARE’.”

As a committee member of Community Plus+, Marilyn loves how TRACE 2017 helps the charity talk about what they do and raises desperately needed funds. “We have meaningful interactions with people in our communities who are marginalised by mental Illness, poverty, homelessness and addiction. Community Plus+ is important to me because the community is a part of me, and just like in my own family, I see my contribution as improving my own life as well as those we support and work with.”The fruits of Marilyn and Jason’s efforts were enjoyed during this year’s TRACE:4101 2017, which ran from 24 May to 14 June. Amazing work by artists such as Gordon Bennett, Noel McKenna and Fiona Foley popped up at a spectrum of West End businesses, including the West End Bakery, Hong Lan Vietnamese grocer, Tanos Pharmacy, and Avid Reader.