Whilst in Sydney last week Georgia had the opportunity to visit the HAY Shop in Surry Hills. It was such a treat to see the full gamut of HAY products in one place - well worth the visit if you're in town!
Strap mirror, Wrong for HAY Sinker pendant (in reflection) Porter paper towel holder, Woody shelving, Field serving / chopping board. Photo: GCID
Wrong for HAY Hook, Tree Trunk Vases + Salt + Pepper Mills, New Order shelving, Flower Pots, Placemat, Dishmat, Coaster. Photo: GCID
Beautiful light streaming in on the New Order shelving + desk, Wrong for HAY Cloche lamp, Dot bag + Neu 10 chairs. Photo: GCID
Wrong for HAY Bent Wood mirror, New Order shelving, About A Chair, Plisse archive folder. Photo: GCID
Pinorama, Animal Mask. Photo: GCID
This week Georgia was lucky enough to take a trip down to Sydney to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Magis at the launch of the Magispace x Cult pop-up. For two weeks the pristine, white space on the upper level of Cult's Chippendale showroom is playing host to a range of well-established + freshly-launched Magis collections.
Highlights of the exhibition were:
The new Officina collection by the Bouroullec brothers: a celebration of simple wrought iron elements
The new Milà chair by Jaime Hayón: upholstered or un-upholstered to suit both indoor + outdoor applications
The Cyborg Lord armchair by Marcel Wanders: playful in white + soft pink marshmallow tones or sophisticated in black leather
The Traffic collection by Konstantin Grcic: fine-boned occasional pieces in luxurious finishes
Scroll through the photos below for a peek...
Left to right: Tyke shelving from The Wild Bunch collection by Konstantin Grcic, Table + Chairs from the new Officina collection by Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec. Photo: GCID
Top to bottom, left to right: Air-armchair by Jasper Morrison, Chair First by Stefano Giovannoni, the new Milà chair by Jaime Hayón + Spun rotating chair by Thomas Heatherwick. Photo: GCID
Left to right: Rocking Chair, Low Chair + Footstool from the Piña collection by Jaime Hayón, Spike shelving system from The Wild Bunch collection by Konstantin Grcic, Happy Birds by Eero Aarnio + Armchair + Low Table from the Traffic collection by Konstantin Grcic. Photo: GCID
Left to right: Baguette table by Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec with Cyborg Lord armchairs by Marcel Wanders. Photo: GCID
Ettore the mule, designed by Konstantic Grcic to celebrate Magis’ 40th anniversary, perched atop the Steelwood shelving system designed by Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec. Photo: GCID
Tom stool + Tyke shelving from The Wild Bunch collection designed by Konstantin Grcic. Photo: GCID
Left to right: Sam Son low chair by Konstantin Grcic, Officina console table by Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec, Spike shelving system from The Wild Bunch collection by Konstantin Grcic, Tubby plant holder by Marc Newson + Voido rocking chair by Ron Arad. Photo: GCID
Georgia was recently invited to speak at the inaugural EmAGN Queensland DARCH Horse Awards hosted at the Brickworks Design Studio, New Farm.
The DARCH Horse Awards recognise and celebrate the contributions of non-architects to the built environment in South East Queensland in seven categories:
— Government Authority
— Specialist Contractor
— Urban Provocateur
Here's a little snippet of what Georgia had to say:
'Every design project is borne out of teamwork. Architects, designers, engineers, certifiers, clients, project managers, builders and many others come together to create something special. Once that project is complete there are photographers, stylists and writers who help share it with the broader community. Truly great project outcomes only come about when all of these people work together effectively to tell the same story.
Design by collaboration rather than by committee can sometimes be a difficult thing to achieve and I think it's really wonderful to have the opportunity to celebrate the people who have been able to make that happen.'
Georgia was recently invited to attend a Supper Club to celebrate the opening of the first Brisbane Kit + Ace store at James Street, New Farm. It was an evening of beautiful, thought provoking art, delicious food + great conversation with local creatives.
The M2 House is featured on the front cover of the February 2015 issue of Inside Out magazine!
Trying Not To Match is the brainchild of super talented creatives Jess Hooper + Jacob Zinman-Jeanes. I'm not entirely sure how I first stumbled upon their little piece of sartorial wonderment but I'm so glad that I did!
Copy / content editor + internet enthusiast, Jess, met graphic designer + illustrator, Jacob, when they both started working at the same company around four years ago. Along with their German Shepherd, Lando, they've been chronicling their sartorial choices against a lovely OSB backdrop in their home.
'We're both pretty into fashion (to the detriment of our respective wallets), + thought it might be fun / interesting to catalogue what we wear everyday,' says Jacob, 'We started out with the intent of just keeping it up for a month. Things have now spiralled out of control. Who knows when we'll stop... maybe never.'
One of my favourite things about the images (apart from the odd sneak peek of colourful socks) is the Yves Klein Blue scrawl obscuring Jess + Jacob's faces. I asked whether there was any particular impetus for this device + Jacob said, 'I like the idea of anonymising outfit photos. It feels like there's ore to it than just keeping your face out of the photo - an interesting visual sensibility + atmosphere.' Jess was a little more pragmatic in her explanation saying, 'I make stupid faces'. Either way it works for me!
If you'd like to see more of Jess' work pop over to her website Small, but effective.
You can also find some of Jacob's work over on his website Jacob Zinman-Jeans.
Watching today in the studio: Inspiration + process behind the beautiful Parison Pendant by Nat Cheshire...
Eliza Rogers creates beautiful, loose, romantic floral arrangements evocative of the wonderful still life paintings of the Dutch Masters. Primula Floral Styling is the culmination of both her formal training + nomadic wanderings through North America + Canada learning from her floral idols.
I didn't realise when I first met Eliza that I'd been following her on Instagram for some time under the pseudonym 'bonnyflame'. It wasn't until a few days later that I put two + two together + sent her a fangirl email asking if I might quiz her on all things Primula.
Tell us a little bit about your background - how did Primula Floral Styling come to be?
I grew up on a farm in Northern NSW, in a home surrounded by a beautiful garden planted by my mother. My Dad's sister was an incredible botanical painter in her early life + birthdays were celebrated with petal-covered cakes + flower crowns worn by the birthday child, so I guess flowers were always a fairly integral part of my upbringing.
Upon visiting that same Aunty in the Yarra Valley during my mid teens, I decided it would be the idyllic place to spend my eventual retired life running a florist slash 'cupcakery'... It wasn't until a few years out of school, when I realised I wasn't exactly sure of what it was that I would be retiring from, that I stumbled across the floral work of Amy Merrick. She was the first in a long line of cool, young florists I discovered working in the flower + event scene of NYC. Almost immediately a craft that I'd previously pegged as a bit of an old-girls' game became an art-form I craved to learn.
Around the same time I fell under the NYC flower spell a very dear family friend passed away. It was an incredibly tender time during which I witnessed the sweet, restorative qualities bestowed by the gift of flowers - particularly the giving of those fragrant beauties plucked from the spring gardens of so many loving neighbours. That experience really cemented my desire to work with flowers.
I deferred the communications degree I was one year into + enrolled in the floristry certificate at Southbank TAFE. I went on to complete the first two certificates over the duration of a year, which was bittersweet. I certainly honed some fantastic technical skills + botanical knowledge there, but found the designs we learned were extremely dated. It wasn't until a while after finishing my studies that my aesthetic started to fall into place + the more loose, wild and natural lines I celebrate within my work with Primula started to develop.
This new style was heavily influenced by obsessive research - hours spent fawning over the work of the aforementioned New York flower goddesses, along with the compositions found within glorious Dutch Master still-life paintings + of course anything + everything by the eternal First Lady of flowers, Constance Spry. The more I played with flowers, the better I learned to respect their natural lines + forms and never really looked back to the tight, constricted styles that I learnt early on.
Not long after finishing your formal training you travelled extensively around North America - tell us a little about this journey + how it impacted your work?
My trip to America seemed like an obvious choice + boy was it incredible - it really changed my life! Basically I bought a car in LA (a '96 Ford Explorer, soon nicknamed 'Harrison Ford') + after a few weeks spent roaming around the Californian desert with a friend, I started on my solo journey around the States.
It's funny whenever anyone asks me advice on where to go or what to see in the USA because almost every single part of my journey was focussed on nature, plants + flowers. I was sleeping in my car everywhere I went, bouncing between endless National Parks (which are of stupendous quality, nationwide) + the leafiest streets I could find in any given city, preferably bordering botanical gardens + the like. I visited the shops + studios of florists I had been following online for almost two years + had some of my first Instagram-meets-reality moments.
The sheer beauty + diversity in the ever-changing landscape as it rolled out alongside me was astounding: the colours of the desert at sunset; Montana's peaks at sunrise; Joshua Trees; colossal Redwoods; turquoise waters crashing into the cliffs of Big Sur + later melting into the grey waters of the Pacific along the Oregon coast; + wildflower after wildflower after wildflower. There were nights that I drove well into the dark, past one or two a.m., because I had spent so much time in the daytime just wandering about on the side of highways + little lanes, collecting flowers + watching the light change.
One of the most pivotal experiences I had was meeting Amy Merrick, whilst attending a weekend-long intensive workshop hosted by her + another incredible farmer-florist, Erin Benzakein. A producer of some of the most incredible, high-quality, unusual (often heirloom) varieties of flowers in the USA, Erin is the force behind Floret Flower Farm.
Needless to say, the weekend was completely ridiculous in its beauty. Erin invited us to her farm + gave us free rein to cut whatever we liked, which was the first of I think three secretly tear-jerking moments that weekend. Along with the Floret-grown beauties we had the most amazing roses to play with from Peterkort rose farm in Portland. They were true garden varieties - in all their fragrant, imperfect glory - upon seeing them I realised just how much I had been missing out on in all my time working with flowers. These were the roses of my mother's garden, crooked stems + all, which is unfortunately not something you see much of in the Australian commercial markets.
Aside from becoming tragically besotted with American flowers I also met the most kind + inspiring women during that workshop, many of whom quickly became great friends. A few weeks later it was two of these ladies who contributed to my next big moment in the USA when they threw my hat into the ring to win a free spot to a flower workshop that was being raffled off via Instagram. I was in Chicago at the time + the duo behind The Little Flower School (Sarah Ryhanen + Nicolette Owen) had a free space to fill in their workshop to be held the next day in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
I think Flora, the goddess of flowers, must've been guiding me in the USA because the next thing I knew I was driving thirteen hours overnight to make it to New York in time for the class. I remember rocking up to the Big Apple blaring Alicia Keys and Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind, perhaps slightly under-showered + definitely delirious, wondering how any of it was possibly happening.
The class was incredible (so much credit is due these ladies for the huge surge in Renaissance-style floristry that is prominent in Brooklyn) as were the surreal ten days that followed. I spent them sleeping on Sarah's sofa in Red Hook, leaving each day to explore NYC + assist both Amy (Merrick) + the team at Sarah's floral studio, Saipua, in the flowering of a couple of weddings.
From the USA I travelled up to Canada, where I eventually settled in Vancouver for six months, working in a gorgeous flower + botanical shop called Greenstems. My boss Heather was a gem of a lady to work for + remains a valued friend now. We spent countless hours discussing both the flaws + virtues of flower shop versus studio + it was in those conversations that I cemented my vision for the type of business I wanted Primula to be.
Although working with flowers on a day-to-day basis in the shop was a true pleasure, I eventually realised that my strongest passion for floristry lay in the larger-scale aspects of design, more commonly found in wedding + event styling... which led me to move back to Australia, + the way I am working with flowers now.
So what is Primula, + what services do you provide?
Primula Floral Styling is the moniker under which I provide my floral design services. The Latin name for Primrose, it is a tribute to my darling sister, Prim, who was sadly taken to be with the flowers almost ten years ago. The name was there for me long before I knew what sort of business I wanted it to be + it feels incredibly special to be reminded of her each time that I put my hands to work.
Based in Brisbane, Primula offers evocative floral arrangements to suit all weddings + events. Working by appointment, I happily travel with my services, catering from the Sunshine Coast to Byron Bay + beyond!
I also teach a series of workshops + offer private classes for those looking to add an unusual activity to their small party. In keeping with my love of wild, natural designs, it's a very relaxed way to learn about surrounding yourself with flowers... plus we provide delicious wines + nibbles in a lush setting!
In addition to the grand-scheme designs associated with even styling, I love getting caught up in making more sculptural, wearable pieces too. I really enjoy the editorial side of things, especially when incorporating botanical art into the styling of photo shoots.
What sorts of challenges have you faced setting up + running your own small business?
It definitely is a lesson in discipline - making sure to stay on top of all your business priorities, along with general 'life admin'. I work a part-time hospitality ob so I have that roster to juggle too. A lot of my work with Primula is done solo in a studio based at home, which I actually love when in the creative zone, but it's definitely nice to have a contrast in roles. My other time at work is spent surrounded by some of my favourite people, essentially being paid to hang out with friends (and sometime serve customers), so it's pretty ideal.
Running a business as an event florist is probably very similar to many creative freelancers. We're fairly flexible in our schedules, but this means we also have to create our own structure.
As someone who loves working with my hands, I'm definitely happiest when constructing a big arrangement or crawling around on hands and knees with a camera, trying to capture the shot.
Taking photos is important, as all other evidence of our work dies very quickly. I'm learning that a comprehensive portfolio goes hand-in-hand with your presence online, particularly with social media accounts, which can be invaluable tools for circulating your work. Along with a public online presence, the private aspects of your communication are really important too. It's bad, but shooting off quotes, sending through orders + just regular day-to-day correspondence are probably my most arduous chores. I would honestly rather be cleaning buckets than chained to a computer or phone.
Which brings me to money - the source of much dread when it comes to writing out those quotes! Learning to value my work + charge people accordingly is one of the biggest hurdles I'm yet to overcome, partly because flowers are still classed as a luxury item. When I started studying floristry I had grand ideas of selling incredibly cheap jar arrangements so more people could have flowers every week. I quickly learned that this was not feasible when faced with the high cost of wholesale flowers versus the rise of cheap supermarket flowers. It's taken a while but I'm getting better at recognising the labour involved at all stages of the cycle (especially for flower growers!) settling on a price that reflects all considerations fairly.
To recycle a useful piece of advice dispensed to me by the many good florists across the USA, once the bookwork starts piling up get an accountant. Unless you actually feel confident in your abilities in this arena, it will save you a huge amount of grief. I used to do admin work for an accountant + he is now my go-to man for my own business needs. He draws me mind maps + explains things simply and life is much easier with him around.
What's next for you + for Primula Floral Styling?
Having only launched my business quite recently I'm still very excited + grateful to be booking jobs. As the business grows I do hope to travel some more + eventually take Primula on the road!
Equal parts nester + nomad, I feel there are a great number of English gardens just waiting for my feet to tour them. At the same time I am just as keen to start planting a little garden of my own. All my garden babies are currently planted in portable containers because the commitment to a proper backyard still seems a bit daunting but I do want to start growing some more unusual blooms to cut + use in my work. Eventually, I'd like to grow even more. Who knows, ten or fifteen years from now international flower nuts might visit Australia + be blown away by the local flower culture just as I was in the USA last year.
Flower, houseplants + botanical motifs in general all seem to be riding the wave of a great resurgence right now so it's an exciting time to be involved in the botanical realms.
Finally, which local creatives are inspiring you at the moment?
So many great stores + studios have popped up around Brisbane since I've been away but I think I'm going to keep it simple + choose just three.
Angie Ferro being number one as she has been such a big part in getting my business off the ground. Her beautiful photos crop up throughout a large portion of the portfolio on my website. Not only is she fantastic behind the camera, she is also one of the warmest, humblest + most intelligent people I know, which makes both hanging + working with her equal pleasures.
Second mention goes to another dear friend Nabil Sabio Azadi who is one of the truest artists I know. His originality never ceases to amaze me - there are always crazy layers of profound depth to his work. I carried his book, For You The Traveller, with me around North America + finally used it upon arrival in Vancouver where it helped me to make one of my closest friends there. If you have time, please read a bit more about that particular project as a short mention by me will hardly do it justice.
Thirdly, I'd like to shout out to Jess Barty (of Sunday Social) for not only being the proprietor of the very first vintage store I fell in love with upon moving to Brisbane but for also being the creator of some damn fine ceramic works. Working down the way from her shop in Winn Lane proved a challenge to me once she released her 'Down Time' collection. As my rapidly expanding collection would indicate a good hand-thrown mug is irresistible + hers are some of Brisbane's best.
As part of the Pixel Trade project Eliza created this sweet little stop motion animation showcasing her style:
You can check out more of Eliza's heady floral designs over on the Primula website.
I'm a walking designer cliche of black on black (on black!) when it comes to my wardrobe but after spending some time in jeweller Bianca Mavrick's cute + colourful studio I am seriously considering adding a splash of colour to the mix. Read on to discover a little bit about Bianca's motivation + processes including an introduction to her latest range, Brick Block, which draws upon her personal architectural 'landmarks' for inspiration.
Tell us a little bit about your background + how you discovered your love for jewellery making?
I was lucky enough to have a few life-altering experiences happen quite young. When I was kindergarten age I showed a keen interest in painting + drawing + was sent to afternoon art classes. I remember being the youngest in the class + sitting at the big kids' table where we all painted on canvases. Coincidentally, also sitting at this table was Brisbane sculptor Sophie Bottomley, who just this year, I was reunited with when we both moved into studios at Metro Arts. She recognised my little face instantly!
I also have vivid memories of attending the APT exhibitions at the Queensland Art Gallery + being taken to an open day at the Queensland College of Art's old camps at Seven Hills. I was about five or six + I clearly remember my fascination with the place. I decided then that I wanted to go there when I grew up. I'm so grateful these were the activities my mother chose to do with me as a child.
At age ten I asked my mother if I could start a market stall selling handmade things at the local beachside markets. I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to sell, all I knew is that I wanted to make + sell something. After persistent requests she eventually caved in + helped me set up a stall selling jewellery I made from sea shells. I'd do this on the weekend to make pocket money.
Once I left school I studied a Bachelor of Industrial Design at Queensland University of Technology. I still don't know why I chose to do that but I think designers think about + view the world differently to others + it was there that I was taught to think as a designer. During this time I was taking night classes learning silversmithing! Towards the end of my degree I was very unenthused with the idea of working in the industry. It had finally clicked that jewellery was what I was meant to be doing so I went on to study a Bachelor of Fine Art at Queensland College of Art. My major was jewellery + small objects + I quickly learned about the world of contemporary jewellery. In first year I emailed renowned Melbourne jeweller Lucy Folk + asked if I could be her studio assistant. She said yes + I was her first 'intern' which really involved her imparting some brilliant industry advice about running a jewellery label while we ate at great cafes, visited jewellery galleries + chatted as I did odd jobs around the studio. She was a fantastic mentor.
Growing up in Brisbane has definitely influenced my jewellery practice. Aesthetically I am influenced by what I've been surrounded with! Tropical gardens + fruit trees in the backyard, growing up surrounded by Italian + Greek family who immigrated to the suburbs of West End + Kangaroo Point.
We have a small, close-knit contemporary jewellery community here that centres around the Jeweller's + Metalsmith's Group of Queensland + Queensland College of Art.
Your work always has a clever mix of bold colours, industrial materials + handcrafted elements - tell us more about how this is manifest in Brick Block + the creative process behind the collection?
Brick Block started when I learned to turn wood! I absolutely loved working with wood + started to handcraft + paint oversized turned wooden beads for my jewellery. My design philosophy was to handcraft every component of my work myself, to build up a catalogue of original, almost modular like components that can have infinite design configurations + variations. It was also my way of of keeping a steady, recognisable visual language flowing through my work. The idea of distilling a memory into a very graphic motif is how I create work. This is a process I do with every body of work.
With Brick Block I started to think about personal architectural 'landmarks' that have remained unchanged while I've lived my whole life in Brisbane. I was trying to process the visual language these landmarks create + think about he personal cultural histories + memories these surrounding invoke. I think everyone must still have a few spots in their city that haven't changed their whole life. So it was about distilling those memories into motifs. I was thinking about those very concrete Greek + Italian migrant homes I grew up around with the painted bricks + concrete columns. Also places such as the Greek Orthodox Church of St George + Kim Thanh Hot Bread at west End seem completely unchanged signposts my whole life. I know this is impossible, but they just seem to be unchanged constants in my mind.
I collaborated with my friend, graphic designer Jack Loel, to create motifs that become the central feature of the jewellery. We were going to Ray Cavill's Clay School together in the Old Bakery at West End where Jack was creating ceramic sculptures that are very reminiscent of these architectural shapes. Normally I do all the graphic design of the jewellery motifs myself, starting from coloured paper cutouts - but as I was working with Jack on other graphic design jobs related to my label, our collaboration evolved because of this close influence + the fact that I am a hug admirer of his work.
So the jewellery centres around these colour coated metal motifs, then I add in a mix of found + fabricated components. I never sketch any designs out, I always have to physically make a prototype. It always starts as paper cutouts + then progresses into Illustrator motifs. I fabricate + assemble everything by hand, but some components go through processes that have to be outsourced. I'm lucky to have some trusted local businesses I outsource these processes to that I've built up a good working relationship with. This collection I also made three floor lamps for the window installation at Artisan, an exploration of the turned wooden components! I really enjoyed making these, it's interesting to think about how my design aesthetic can translate across different products.
You have both an online store and stockists for your collections - what have been some of the challenges + highlights of monetizing your passion? Which parts of the process have you tackled yourself + where have you sought help?
Trying to do everything yourself is hard + near impossible! I do all of the design + production, run the online store, communicate with customers, social media (which I'm not exactly ace at) + do my own PR for the moment. I outsource my photography always to a trusted friend Lisa Brown + graphic design always with Jack Loel. My brand identity was developed with graphic designer friend Cheyanne Proud before she left to work in NYC. Everyone I work with is a friend or acquaintance I'm met with along the way + we've clicked.
I just want to make great work that I'm proud of, that is something that is unseen before + not a waste of space + resources. I design to express a feeling or memory + then translate the idea into something wearable. It tends to be off base when compared to the fine + minimal things that are currently in fashion, but I don't really care. There is a certain type of person that gets it. Personally, I hate so much of the boring + very commercially successful jewellery out there that is unsophisticated in technique, under the guise of being minimal in design.
Having said this I'm acutely aware I also have to run a business! For this collection I've adjusted my production techniques to create work that is more accessible in price point + less physically demanding + time consuming to make. I've slightly scaled down size to make things more wearable. One think I'll never compromise on is colour. I don't think you'll ever see me make any jewellery that doesn't have a bold colour palette.
I love having an online store, though this range I'm working on building up a bigger wholesale business, less made to order one-off pieces that was my Heat Island sophomore range. I'm really excited that earlier this year my first wholesale account was with Miramika, a Malaysian based online jewellery store that also stocks some of my other favourite Australian contemporary jewellers.
Trying to run a business as best I can while working another job is a tough balance. Obviously I want to do the jewellery full time within a few years but I have grown beyond the fatalistic 'if I don't succeed at this I have nothing else to do with my life' attitude. I'm just seeing what it all evolves into + having a quiet confidence that (hopefully) it will become something bigger.
I think there are aspects of my personal life where I tend to sit out on the bench until I'm invited to play, but when it comes to my jewellery I'm always getting myself into situations where I'm throwing myself into something beyond what is mentally + physically possible for me to achieve alone. I'm pretty stubborn + have a very warped sense of work-life balance. I'm lucky I have a very supportive family + friends who have helped me when I need extra hands.
I never switch off from thinking about it all which might be bad... (I'm not sure?!) I feel a little self-conscious + don't like to talk about my work freely to many people because I don't want to be self-absorbed + drive friends and family crazy; not many people understand the personal sacrifices, fleeting joy + endless obsession! Though my favourite thing to do is the opposite - shamelessly ask a lot of questions of artists I meet whose work I find interesting. I love to know how other artists make their work, it sometimes influences the way I choose to make my own.
I don't run the business in a completely fashion business model - I really run it as an art practice. I try to do one production range of jewellery but also a body of work that is contemporary jewellery and sculptures which I make for a solo show + group exhibitions. It's more freeing to not have to follow the fashion cycle. I enjoy + want to do more fun collaborations with my friends + exclusive ranges of jewellery for stockists when asked.
If you could dress anyone in Bianca Mavrick jewellery who would it be + what would they be wearing it with?
I love when I see artists I admire wearing my work. It's great to see people wear my work who aren't afraid of colour + scale. I'd love to see stylist Meg Gray wearing my work. Alex + Melissa from Chicks on Speed wore my jewellery onstage at their Brisbane show which was pretty fun to see!
Finally, which creatives are inspiring you at the moment?
Friends + locals: graphic designer Jack Loel, artist Bridie Gillman, whip-smart writer + curator Tess Maunder. Now I feel like I'm playing favourites + should probably stop.
Local designers Maison Briz Vegas have a philosophy that's inspiring + definitely resonates with me.
Last week I was lucky enough to tag along to a little introductory evening with Tove Langridge in his new TWFineArt GuideShop. I was delighted to discover a thoughtfully curated portfolio of beautiful artworks that don't break the bank! Tove was kind enough to answer some questions about how it all come together to kick the blog (me!) back into gear for the new financial year...
Tell us a little bit about your background?
I studied a business communication degree at QUT + worked in project management for Vodafone before deciding to pursue a fine art degree in New York. I couldn't see a fulfilling future in my trajectory at that time + went out on a limb to apply to art schools in Manhattan. Ultimately I chose The School of Visual Arts. Academically I did pretty well, majoring in art history + painting + was awarded the Rhodes Award when I graduated
Initially I worked in contemporary galleries in Chelsea as an assistant to the curator + art handler. Later a friend + I rented a large loft space in Bushwick, Brooklyn, that we subdivided + converted into studios. Our aim was to create an open studio facility that demystified the artist by allowing people into the studios to see their processes + studio practice on a daily basis. Our artists would put on exhibitions in our gallery space + slowly but surely Bushwick became an upcoming arts area. Today there are over 500 studios in Bushwick.
At the same time I met + began working with Abstract Expressionist Michael Goldberg who introduced me to his network of critics, artists, musicians, writers etc. After working with some private collections, managing + acquiring contemporary work, I was approached by Mike's Estate (he passed away in 2007) to manage his collection which I did until I left in 2012.
What was the catalyst for TWFineArt?
TWFineArt was literally conceived when I worked with Benefit Print Project whilst at the Estate. We produced a print from an oil painting on paper + I was blown away with the quality - it was difficult to tell the original from the reproduction. I am a huge believer that art is important in life: imagination + creative thought give rise to many wonderful things. My problem with the art world is that it is very aristocratic (even though the artist very rarely is an aristocrat) + the average person can't afford access to the world of visual art unless it's through some poor quality museum poster or a machine printed piece with little artistic integrity.
I loved that at the Estate I went to work + looked at amazing art all day even though I could never afford the $100,000 plus price tag. My intention with the prints was to bring that great art to the market at a reasonable price point.
The process began by showing the quality of the cotton rag print to the artists that I admired + loved which, in turn, convinced them to think about allocating some work to be used in print. In some ways I think visual art has been left out of the way we think about many of the other arts. Take music, film, theatre - each of these art disciplines has evolved to be accessible to the full breadth of society. Visual art, for some reason, has not. The ideas of circulation, reproducibility + accessibility can be applied to the visual arts through this type of print because it preserves the touch + feel of the original.
Why shouldn't we be able to afford great things? I stand by that + that's what we're trying to achieve.
How do you source the art + artists in your portfolio?
The artists that I work with are colleagues from my time in the NYC art scene. They range from artists that are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art like Michael Goldberg, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe + Christian Haub, to younger artists that are showing in the gallery circuit + already have a great reputation + collector base. We have a scout in New York who is constantly on the look out for emerging artists or sourcing new pieces from our existing stable of artists for the collection.
There's a GuideShop + online store - how does it all work + what inspired you to set up this way?
I wanted to create a less formal environment that the traditional gallery that not only embraces new print technology to make the work affordable, but also the retail tools of today's customer - the internet. Our GuideShop is a fusion of gallery + online retail space where customers are invited to come in + see a curated selection of work from our portfolio while interacting with the website on our remote terminals to see the full print portfolio online.
We feature monthly shows of work from our collection where we mix prints with original pieces to show a full range of options for our customers. Prints can be ordered from the comfort of your home, or in store through twfineart.com + will be couriered to you or can be collected from the GuideShop. There is a 3 day turn around for printing + framing.
I was inspired by the fashion industry really. There is a great company in the US that is an online store but has flagships in each major city where you can go in, see the range, try on your size + then order online. Everything is mailed out to you. I thought it was a fabulous model + it inspired the way we've set up the business.
If you had to pick a favourite piece from the portfolio which would it be + where would you love to see it?
Oh - tough! Since I'm always looking at new work + adding to the portfolio I tend to have a favourite of the week. This week I'm really taken with the photographs of Margarita Dittborn Valle. I am a huge admirer of the Dutch masters + the surrealists. Margarita's images draw from both to create these unusual, mysterious works. The light + colour I find quite captivating! I'd love to see it in the home of someone who really loved the work + never had access to such an amazing before we came about... that would make me very happy.
Finally, which creatives are inspiring you at the moment?
I am very inspired by the work of Melbourne artist + friend Briony Barr. She looks at complex systems + recreates them in a visual language. Starting from a simple set of rules or visual algorithms she creates these massive works that are a real fusion of intent + accident. She embraces the non artist + involves them in the construction of the work which I think is an amazing way to involve people in a creative endeavour. I think her work is spectacular + it's no wonder that The Museum of Modern Art in Seoul selected her to open the museum with one of her amazing pieces (below). Museum guests were invited, under her supervision, to construct the work. It's made from tape + is a beautiful metaphor for the controlled chaos of our lives + their inevitable impermanence.