Art Atrium, a gallery located in Bondi Junction, is known for its guests, its narrow staircase and intimate spaces. But mostly it is known on account of its owner, Simon Chan, who happens to wear a remarkable number of hats.

Recently Simon Chan organised and hosted a Chinese New Year Banquet with guests of honour, the Australian PM and his wife, Malcolm & Lucy Turnbull. The event, for 500 people, sold out in days, and hundreds more were on a waiting list ~ and that’s just the start.

It was in the early 70’s that a young Simon Chan arrived in Australia from Hong Kong to study. Within eight years he had graduated from the University of Sydney and was on his way to becoming an architect. He worked for a number of architectural firms before setting up his own.

It was when he did an extension on his Sydney house that his passion for art awoke; having to populate all that new space propelled him to visit commercial and public galleries, and to attend art auctions. The level of his enthusiasm at the time can perhaps be best demonstrated anecdotally, he read almost every book on the subject of art that was sitting on the shelf at the (sizeable) Stanton Library in North Sydney.

It wasn’t then unexpected that he might venture to establish an art gallery as well. And that opportunity arose when he was building an office for his architectural practice at Bondi Junction in 2009 when he decided to dedicate two floors to, promote, support and nurture artists in establishing and building their career. Art Atrium was born.

“Being an artist as a profession is very much underrated and artists do sacrifice a lot to pursue their career,” reflects Simon, whose own collection comprises mainly Australian and Aboriginal art.

A big supporter of art centres, he has one rule when deciding on a work – to feel a connection with it so, “It is uplifting every time I look at it,” he says.

Simon Chan’s roles include:

  • Chair of the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation (previously Treasurer)
  • Director of VisAsia at the Art Gallery of NSW
  • Volunteer Community Ambassador at Art Gallery of NSW (providing guided tours of the gallery for the Chinese community)
  • Member of Woollahra Council’s Cultural Committee
  • President of the Haymarket Chamber of Commerce representing business and residents around the Haymarket area and working with the City of Sydney and all other stakeholders in the Haymarket area
  • Member, Advisory Committee in the City of Sydney’s Chinese New Year Festival
  • Founder, Australia China Art & Culture Foundation
  • Former Member of the Woollahra Council and Waverley Council’s Public Art Advisory Committee

Art Atrium’s latest exhibition, Tiwi Design on now, but launched formally on Saturday by Jennifer Isaacs AM, a major contributor to the understanding of the Tiwi, author of Tiwi, Art / History / Culture, along with Steve Anderson, Director of Tiwi Design and Romolo Tipiloura, Tiwi artist.

Tiwi Design, located at Nguiu, Bathurst Island, 100km north of Darwin, is one of the oldest and most artistically diverse Aboriginal art centres in Australia. “It’s culture, history and traditional stories are, Vividly expressed through lines, pattern and colour in many media,” says Jennifer Isaacs.

Painting, carving their unique Pukumani burial poles, printing on fabric and paper, pottery, glass and bronze sculptures. They are traditional artists who make work for family use and ceremony and they are abstract contemporary artists too, some of the most admired in Australia. Making art is a fundamental act for Tiwi.

Tiwi Design runs until 7 May 2016.


Artist: Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, Alan Kerinauia, Margaret Renee Kerinauia, Thomas Munkanorme, Mario Munkara, Maria Josette Orsto, Roslyn Orsto, Jock Puautjimi, Gordon Pupangamirri, Immaculata Tipiloura, Romolo Tipiloura, Brenda Tipungwuti, Bede Tungatalum

Category: Australia , Exhibition , Industry ,

Tags: aboriginal benefits foundation , Art Gallery of NSW , Australia China Art & Culture Foundation , Bathurst Island , Chinese New Year Festival , City of Sydney , Haymarket Chamber of Commerce , Jennifer Isaacs , Simon Chan , Stanton Library , VisAsia , Waverley Council , Woollahra Council ,

Gallery: Art Atrium ,