A contemporary art institution redefined

With a new name, refreshed brand identity and bespoke new website, arts organization Adelaide Contemporary Experimental (aka ACE) celebrates the start of a new era.

Adelaide Contemporary Experimental (ACE) artistic director Patrice Sharkey said the old name was an unfixed acronym, which was open to interpretation by his community.

Today, ACE is a self-defined fixed acronym, meaning “Adelaide Contemporary Experimental”, which better reflects the organisation’s position as a national and international leader in the field of contemporary art.

“By changing our name to a fixed acronym and relaunching our brand, we are matching the visual language of ACE to the energy and maturity of our artistic programming and signaling our special place in the world,” says Patrice.

“While we remain a flexible and responsive space for art and artists, we also know exactly who we are: located on Kaurna Land in Adelaide, we support and celebrate contemporary and experimental art.”

ACE has been built on nearly 120 years of history and is the result of the 2016 merger of the Contemporary Art Center of SA (CACSA) and the Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AEAF).

The new brand recognizes and celebrates CACSA’s ‘contemporary’ vision and AEAF’s ‘experimental’ heritage in its annual program of free exhibitions of South Australian, Australian and international artists.

Sharkey says ACE worked with the next generation of talented Australian creatives to create its new identity, including graphic designer and co-director of Person Books Tyrone Ormsby, Adelaide-born typographer and graphic designer Dennis Grauel, interior designer and furniture Claire Markwick-Smith, and illustrator and designer Jasmin Neophytou.

“From the start of this exercise, it was important that this project impact the local economy and support local artists and creative industries,” explains Patrice.

“I am extremely proud of the small team of young creative professionals we have trusted to deliver this rebranding to ACE.

“What they created for ACE is thoughtful, flexible, playful and always relevant.”

Exhibitions, conferences and events take place at ACE’s Lion Arts Center in the west of the city, where it houses a large gallery, artists’ studios, a visitor’s apartment and retail space at the versatile detail.

The new website was designed and developed by Person Books in consultation with Adelaide-based web developers Rockethouse.

Sharkey says it sets a benchmark for accessibility and integration of new technologies that will provide ACE with the ability to move deeper into the digital age, commissioning and presenting artwork online.

The site is also fully accessible to meet auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical and visual access requirements to create a truly inclusive space.

“We want to make sure people who use accessibility features get the same great design experience,” he says.

Ormsby conducted extensive research in the archives of CACSA and AEAF for inspiration and from there, alongside Dennis Grauel, designed a custom typeface called “ACE”. He says the typeface contains humanistic, idiosyncratic letterforms full of character and warmth found in most archival print.

Local interior and furniture designer Claire Markwick-Smith designed ACE’s new signage and designed and manufactured several gallery furniture.

From left to right: Tyrone Ormsby and Claire Markwick-Smith. This photo: Jonathan van der Knaap

“I came up with a design for a lectern and a set of display tables that function as a merchandising table, book display or bar,” Claire explains.

“The talented team at George Street Studios, David McMurray and Tom Golin, helped with this aspect of the process, which helped bring my designs to fruition.

“The result is a set of objects based on minimalism, materiality and function – subtracting all but the forms necessary to maintain the balance of the objects, which I believe effectively speaks to the brand change.

Claire describes ACE’s rebranding as “clean and adaptable” while creating versatility among changing exhibits and their identities.

“It will be great to see how the rebranding fits alongside future shows and how our work will interact with that,” she says.

Explore ACE’s new website here, where you can find information on current and upcoming exhibitions.

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