Cosmetics brand and store Mecca is an Australian retail icon. Not only is the store beloved for its original products and curated range of beauty brands, founder and managing director Jo Horgan seeks to empower women through the company’s various community initiatives.
The Mecca M-POWER initiative in particular focuses on promoting women in the arts. For the past five years, this program has engaged a female-identifying Australian artist to design branded materials for Mecca stores, as well as commission an original artwork for The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) collection.
This year’s artist is Tammy Kanat, a weaver known for her vibrant, woven artworks commissioned for homes and brands around the world. Tammy describes weaving as a timeless art form and an enchanting, meditative way to express her surroundings.
Collaborating with Mecca made perfect sense for Tammy, due to the similar impact the business and her art provide. ‘When you go into Mecca you feel so good. One thing I get a lot of feedback about with my work is it makes you feel good too – it’s quite uplifting and it’s bold – and people always say it makes them feel happy. I really love that connection,’ Tammy says. ‘I think it’s incredible that Mecca are taking the initiative to support female artists. Jo Horgan is an amazing representation of a successful Australian woman who has built this incredible business, so it feels like an honour to be working with the company.’
This is the first time Tammy’s work has been exhibited by NGV. The artist worked closely with NGV curator of fashion and textiles, Paola Di Trocchio, to produce the four large-scale works, each featuring her signature, intricate patterns of wool, silk and copper. ‘Paola was amazing in that there was so much freedom in what I could actually do. In some ways, I think it gave me a lot of confidence to create and explore,’ Tammy says. ‘It’s empowered me as an artist.’
One of the works is Pinetree, inspired by the Lake Eildon landscape in Victoria’s alpine region. This artwork depicts a series of earthy toned circles much like the rings inside a tree. Nurture showcases two interconnected circular forms to signify Tammy’s relationship as a mother to her child; Web is a colour experiment portraying the interconnected nature of humankind; and Harp is a physical representation of Tammy’s changing state of mind while creating this series. The artwork name Harp stems from Tammy’s craft being similar in nature to a harpist – sitting on her stool, wrapping and twisting silk and wool across her tapestry warp.
We first featured Tammy’s work on The Design Files in 2017, and since then her work has blown up! In addition to this collaboration and NGV exhibition, Tammy’s private commissions are now regularly sent overseas (as coordinated by her husband, who takes care of the business side of things!) and a whopping 157,000 people follow the artist’s every move on Instagram.
‘To get this acknowledgement from NGV is quite incredible,’ Tammy says. ‘As an artist you always doubt yourself, you’re always questioning, so to me, NGV is an acknowledgement that what I’m doing is something quite special.’
Keep an eye out for Tammy’s work on Mecca’s packaging, store fit-outs and marketing materials throughout their holiday campaign – launching on October 30th. The artist’s four, original works commissioned by the brand as part of this collaboration are on display now at NGV Australia, Federation Square until March 29, 2020.