Celebrated Melbourne interior design practice Fiona Lynch has opened a gallery, well sort of……Work Shop situated next door to the Fiona Lynch Studio is more of an meeting place for for fine art, objects and design where interested parties can witness the interaction of these disciplines.
Fiona Lynch spoke with Design daily and elaborated on the ideas behind Work Shop.
D.d: Hello Fiona, This new venture comes as a bit of a surprise given you are running a very busy interior design practice… how do you plan to find the time to also run a gallery space?
FL:We have been planning this exhibition for the last six months but the idea for a curated gallery space started well before that. We have a very passionate project team at Fiona Lynch and they have become extremely excited by the idea of a creative outlet beyond our interiors work. I wanted to create a space were people could find interesting things that they might love to bring into their life but without the intimidating feeling that sometimes goes along with purchasing through art galleries. We hope that Work Shop will be far more approachable. We want it to be a dialogue between art and design. A place you can’t put your finger on – a shifting expression of art and design. We are interested in blurring the lines and having pieces from different disciplines talking to one another. We also wanted to have an outlet for some of the objects we have commissioned as part of our interior design work. On top of all that we always have ideas for our projects that don’t come to fruition for one reason or another so its nice to give these items another life. We are keen on this idea of mixing the unfinished with the highly resolved, the constructed with the deconstructed. We want to embrace the early prototype, the unfinished and the undone. It will be a mix of works from artists whose work we admire and find inspiring, along with design ideas from our own studio.
D.d: How did the idea come about?
FL: I was in New York checking out ICFF a couple of years ago and met with Mary Wallis who I knew from when she was with Lindsey Adelman Studio. Mary is from Melbourne originally and still knows it intimately. I discussed the idea of an informal gallery space with her and she was very encouraging. It was really Mary who planted the seed.
D.d: Why did you select these particular artists for your first show?
FL: Makiko is an artist we have been working with a lot lately. We are currently doing a large scale commission with her for a public building. It’s mind blowing how big this commission actually is but it’s all under wraps at the moment so I can’t really tell you too much more!
We are also working with the Besen family and the TarraWarra Gallery they founded to create some new retail spaces. On this project we are working with Daniel Barbera on creating bespoke furniture pieces to house jewellery, ceramics and books which they have on sale as part of the gallery. Makiko is making some amazing benches for this project that are 1.5 metres wide……It just seemed perfect for Makiko to be involved in our first show as she has become an important part of Fiona Lynch Studio.
D.d: What and who will you be showing?
FL: It will be a mixture of young, relatively unknown and established artists and the pieces on show will be in a wide range of styles and mediums. Our inaugural exhibition Ideas to Intuition for example, includes ceramics by British porcelain artist Olivia Walker and burnt timber vessels by Australian artist Makiko Ryujin along with some lighting pieces by New York-based designer Mary Wallis and very expressive paintings by Jiaxin Nong.
D.d: And what about the work from the studio of Fiona Lynch?
FL: We will be showing an example of our ‘Totem’. It is like a hi-tech fabric coat thrown over a rough steel structure This work in progress / prototype expresses the joy of contrasting materials - of playing with weight and volume. The sheer fabric covers are translucent so you see the framework in a soft and subtle way. Inside the structures are bespoke glassware pieces created in collaboration with Mark Douglas. We see it as a commentary on fragility and the elemental strength of fire.
D.d: Tell me a little more about the artists who are being featured in your opening exhibition?
FL: As I mentioned earlier, Makiko Ryujin is someone we have been working with for quite a while. Her burnt timber vessels are a celebration of the beauty of imperfection. Taking raw sections of trees, she takes to them with a blow torch and opens up cracks to reveal a new beauty full of cracks and warped edges. The blackness of the charred vessel is strangely soft visually.
Olivia Walker is a British porcelain artist whose work I have admired for many years. Her vessels are so organic but the techniques are highly detailed and complex. At times the vessels appear to have leaves of a book or coral spurting out. The way these elements break free from the solidity of the vessel is really quite astounding.
Mary Wallis is a designer who really understand light and how it can be manipulated to invigorate spaces and the people in them. In Work Shop she is showing her beautiful ‘Pendant with Paper’ light made with a sheet of paper floating between two sheets of glass. The lights in pendant and wall sconce form are shown below.
We were determined to have a painter in our first show but we really wanted the art to have this interesting dialogue with the other works so when I stumbled upon Jiaxin Nong’s work literally down the road from the studio at Tristian Koenig I immediately knew we had found our artist. Jiaxin’s work is so expressive and free flowing but also delicate. The work fits beautifully with the other pieces in the show and creates a whole new dynamic at the same time.
D.d: When will the gallery be open?
During Melbourne Design Week (on until the 24 March) we will be opening every day but beyond that Work Shop will be open on Thursdays and by appointment. It’s right next door to our offices so it really isn’t that hard to open it up for people! We want it to have some sort of surprise each time someone visits with a changing display of objects and art rather than getting too bogged down in formal exhibitions. The hope is that people will pop in to see what’s new and get excited by what they see be it art, design or handmade object. Of course we will be presenting a few more structured exhibitions – probably just two a year.
Work Shop is at 7 Glasshouse Road, Collingwood, Melbourne, Victoria and is open everyday until the 24th of March and then every Thursday 11AM – 4PM or by appointment (call the studio of Fiona Lynch on +61 3 9079 2500).