Melbourne art dealer Sophie Gannon opened her eponymous gallery in Richmond 11 years ago. She’s since gained an impressive reputation for championing Australian contemporary art, but Sophie is also passionate about design. She’s on the board of the Robin Boyd Foundation, and has a long held interest in Australian design and architecture. So, eschewing that tired old debate of art vs. design, in 2016, Sophie started something sort of revolutionary. She began commissioning and showing original Australian design pieces, alongside Australian art.
‘I know exactly when I came up with the idea for the Designwork series – I watched a NOWNESS video on the home of the founders of Galerie Kreo in Paris’ Sophie recalls. ‘It opened my eyes to a way of living with both art and design – I couldn’t tell which piece was which in their amazing Parisian apartment’.
After that ‘lightbulb moment’, Sophie became aware of other overseas design galleries, like Carpenters Workshop Gallery and Friedman Benda, in New York. ‘I found that they exhibit design in much the same way as I exhibit art’ the forward thinking gallerist says.
Designwork 02 consists of two concurrent solo exhibitions; ‘Other Places’ by Elliat Rich, and ‘Common Resources’ by Dale Hardiman. Additionally, Sophie is presenting an off-site exhibition at 12 Albert Street (5 doors down from her gallery) by Chen Lu, entitled ‘DRD-01’.
Dale and Elliat each had work in the inaugural Designwork 01 exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery last year, and Sophie kept in touch with both designers after that show. She commissioned Dale to design the desk for her gallery stand at last year’s Sydney Contemporary, whilst Elliat went on to win the 2017 Australian Furniture Design Award. Designwork 02 has presented an opportunity for Sophie to work with both designers in depth, to develop a more significant body of work for exhibition.
The resulting exhibitions are each bold, original bodies of work that look nothing like any other example Australian design we’ve seen. Dale’s exhibition uses discarded objects to create distinctive new design pieces. Whilst Elliat’s show, entitled draws on observations of the Australian landscape, inspired by her experience living and working in Alice Springs.
‘The pieces that I am showing by Elliat and Dale are essentially sculptures – ones that that you can touch, open and use’ Sophie enthuses. ‘My gallery predominately represents visual artists, and this won’t change, but I’m confident that the annual Designwork series will encourage new ideas, audiences and collectors’.
Scroll down for a brief interview with both Elliat and Dale!
‘Designwork 02‘ by Elliat Rich and Dale Hardiman
March 7th to 24th
Sophie Gannon Gallery
2 Albert Street
This event is part of Melbourne Design Week. View the full program of events at ngv.vic.gov.au/melbourne-design-week.