Drouin Health and Fitness is currently home to No Ball, a collection of charcoal and pastel drawings which have sat with Gerard since he completed them in 2001/2.
If you think a gym hosting an art exhibition sounds odd, don’t worry – the gym owner and artist agree with you.
“I was in here one day and I looked at the place and thought ‘what a natural fit for my works’,” Gerard told the Baw Baw Citizen.
Image: Gerard Dovey in front of ‘Too Hot to Handle,’ which features a mask in lieu of a ball.
“I’ve never actually been able to find a place where I felt they’d be comfortable before.
“I’m not particularly fond of galleries. I’ve exhibited in galleries a lot, but I always come away from it feeling a bit cold. I’m not feeling that way with this at all.”
Gerard became friends with gym owner Ben Lucas shortly after Ben took the reigns of the business. Ben has “always had an interest in art” and “just thought it would work.”
“I made a joke that in 10 years time when I’ve got the whole building I would like to commission a painting of all the local sportspeople,” Ben told the Baw Baw Citizen.
“A few weeks later Gerard said ‘I’ve got these paintings from 20 years ago, I think they’ll look great in here over finals time,’ and I said yeah.”
Ben said even those patrons who don’t have an interest in art have found the works interesting.
Gerard has enjoyed watching the reactions of the gym patrons too.
“There has been a lot of people making comments, [and] there has been a lot of quiet looking but no comments but then I hear stuff later on.
“I think it has been very successful in this environment.”
If you make your way to the gym to check the exhibition out there are a few things you might notice. The first is that the title of the show is a promise: there is no ball to be seen.
“I’ve removed the ball consciously because the works are not necessarily about football,” Gerard said.
“Football’s a vehicle I’ve used to talk really about the human condition.
“I did these works in a period of great health stress, I was actually going through a really serious period of illness which went on for a number of years, and I started becoming a bit fixated on watching the footy because I had nothing else to do. I started following one particular team, and one particular group of players, and I because quite obsessed with these people as people.
“[My interest was] because of my fragility, I think. I started seeing the efforts in the actual people who were playing rather than the success of the sports hero. I was really interested in them as people.”
With a background in contemporary ballet, the athleticism and effort of the game stood and drew Gerard into the game.
Gerard has also studied mask theatre, and that par of his life makes an appearance in his work too.
“Masks are about two things: they’re about thinking that you’re hiding, but they’re also a very revealing thing,” he said.
“A mask… has an uncanny ability to make you quite vulnerable, and whatever you do becomes heightened if you have a mask hiding your face.
“People think they’re hiding, but they’re actually a lot more visible.
“I think that happens on the football field in some ways; the players get to a point where they think they’re not being seen, but in fact everything they do is being scrutinised to the Nth degree, even if they’re playing just in community football.”
You can find No Ball at Drouin Health and Fitness, 22-26 Princes Way, Drouin, until Saturday 7 October.