Art is so often considered ‘stuffy’, usually because one finds themselves unable to connect with horses and battles, except for in their dreams. Le Petit Bateau aims to change all of that. Fronted by Anne-Sophie Ridelaire (AnSo) and fiancé Gaetano Russo, an Italian boat designer, the gallery has become so much more than that. In true European artist style, the philosophy behind Le Petit Bateau is that creativity should be shared and be an integrated part of the community.
Le Petit Bateau certainly does this, with members from the Bondi community of all ages congregating together to celebrate the achievements of up and coming artists, performers and creative types. AnSo describes the venue as ‘Social + Art’ and encapsulated these ideas in an essay written for the University La Sorbonne in Paris, stating she wanted to create a place for the community to congregate and for artists, musicians and creators could all come together and share their ideas freely.
They welcome you into their fold with open arms and encourage the pursuit of dreams and beauty.
A hidden gem in Bondi, you’re warmly greeted with the scent of salt water, smiles and softly accented ‘hello’s’. A small and understated gallery on Bondi Road behind an apartment block and inside a garage, it is a far cry from traditional, sterile galleries. The English translation of ‘Le Petit Bateau’ is ‘the Little Boat’, and this is reflected in the nautical accents to the setting, with a timber boat as a focal point of the courtyard. AnSo and Gaetano share a dream to create a gallery on a boat, with the sentiment that ‘you never know which way things are going to go’ – something that is also demonstrated in the ever changing themes of the gallery’s exhibitions.
Friday night celebrated the launch of their 2015 program and the opening night of ‘Dreamland’, a series of paintings by Liya Mirzaeva. Her aim was to encapsulate the feeling of home that came with being surrounded by nature and away from the city, where she never quite felt ‘at home’. The series of small paintings are moving, clearly demonstrating the feelings of warmth and belonging felt by Liya as she travelled through rural Australia.
In stark contrast to Liya’s sentiment of city life, the artists commune that is Le Petit Bateau is anything but unwelcoming. Not only do they seek to share art in a way that is accessible and down to earth, they also aim to encompass all facets of art. Our visit recently saw musical performances, belly dancing and home made pizza from a wood fire oven – one wall away from the paintings. The ‘art’ itself, was not just limited to brush and canvas. Instead we saw dream catchers and guitars, the latter meticulously painted with vibrant colours – clearly exhibiting their love of music.
All of the contributing members live in the apartment building in front of the gallery and together they not only showcase arts, they also help Sydney discover it for themselves. Part of their ongoing program are jam sessions for the musicians and cooking classes for the aspiring gastronomers. As a sister organisation the Pyrmont Heritage Boating Club, they also offer sailing classes for those with a thirst for adventure.
If there was ever a place in this crazy city that anyone could feel not like they’re with strangers – or even with friends – but instead, with family, Le Petit Bateau is that. There is something for everyone, no matter what age, race, postcode or interest – they welcome you into their fold with open arms and encourage the pursuit of dreams and beauty.