Ask the closest person sitting next to you if they have ever crooned along to a John Farnham lyric, tuned into Daryl Somers on Hey Hey It’s Saturday, or recounted the tales of May Gibbs’ Gumnut Babies. The answer is likely to be a resounding: YES. Australian national identity is a slippery sucker – it might be decidedly uncool to fly an Aussie flag from your car window (no really, please, stop) BUT there’s never been a better time to dust off the Ken Done tablemats, or re-visit your Mum’s vintage Jenny Kee collection.
A nostalgic affection for Australian pop culture of the 60s, 70s and 80s is firmly back in fashion, and it’s a trend joyfully celebrated in a new project from Third Drawer Down and Arts Project Australia.
Abigail Crompton of Third Drawer Down is a do-er, she runs her two popular bricks-and-mortar stores, a busy online shop, and works alongside some of the biggest art galleries in the world to produce custom exhibition merchandise for the likes of David Shrigley, Jeff Koons and Louise Bourgeois. However, a little closer to home, Abigail has recently realised a collaboration close to her heart.
Since 1974, Arts Project Australia, based in Northcote, have been the first full-time art studio and gallery in Australia for artists with intellectual disabilities. ‘They have built a reputation in Australia and internationally for their achievements and advocacy on this front,’ explains Abi. ‘Proof lies in the consistency and quality of the exhibitions and programs that they produce and deliver, along with the extraordinary opportunities and experiences they’ve brokered for their artists.’
Last year, Abigail approached the folk at Arts Project Australia with an idea to create a series of Australiana-themed souvenirs that were more true-blue-dinky-di (!) – and less koala pencil topper. Once the idea was green lit, the Third Drawer Down team worked closely with Arts Project and their stable of artists to bring the idea to life.
‘The brief was to create an Austaliana collection that championed the kitsch souvenir’ mentions Abigail. The result is a series of products that celebrates all things Australian, from a Dame Edna pot holder, to a Daryl Somers ice cooler bag, and a Kylie Minogue record album t-shirt. The collection includes the art of Lisa Reid, Cathy Staughton, Julian Martin, Patrick Francis, Valerio Ciccone and Alan Constable among others.
‘The works featured all have a strong connection to Australia; the land, the pop-culture and the landmarks, so it’s an eclectic mix of wildlife, pop royalty and 90s television hits!’ recounts Abi.
‘Australiana’ by Arts Project Australia and Third Drawer Down is now available exclusively from NGV Design Store. From March 17th, it will be also be in-store at Third Drawer Down and Arts Project Australia. By August, the ongoing collaboration will be expanded upon and released at leading galleries and museums nationwide.