Although Tantri Mustika and Ella Reweti only started working on their joint exhibition in January, the concept of collaborating on a show is something they’ve eagerly discussed for ‘years’.
As full time makers — who rely on productivity and output to pay the bills — taking time to delve into experimentation and take on a passion project was always something that got pushed to the side.
‘The common theme between both Ella and I — and pretty much every single maker I know — is that it’s just so difficult to actually find the space, time, mental clarity and financial security to take risks in your day to day practice,’ says Tantri.
In fact, this is exactly the premise for their Melbourne Design Week show, ‘Making Space’; which sees the duo finally come together as makers to experiment with creative concepts that have been sitting on the back-burner for years, and merge these old ideas with new techniques.
‘Working on a passion project is always a breath of fresh air,’ says Tantri. ‘It has unlocked a web of new ideas for future works, and the best part has been challenging my skills and pushing beyond my usual comfort zones, which has allowed me a new way of thinking about my work.’
‘I’ve learnt that I love collaborating!’, says Ella. ‘I didn’t realise how much I craved the company until Tantri came in and we got to hang out and make things together. I also got to learn more about hand-building techniques and processes like colour clay and marbling, which I’m new to.’
Ella has created two expansive works for the exhibition. The first is a collection of sculptural ceramic pieces, slip-cast using a set of stackable plaster building blocks, dubbed ‘Observation City’. These building-like forms have been individually cast from over fifty different timber pieces.
Ella’s second work — a wall of hand-pressed, corrugated terracotta tiles — titled ‘Facade’, is based on a concept for a public artwork Ella had been commissioned to create that was sadly cancelled due to the pandemic. ‘Losing this opportunity was really devastating at the time,’ she says. ‘So it’s quite cathartic to finally see an iteration of it come to life.’
Tantri has also created a number of works for the show, brought together in two separate series. The first is called ‘Exquisite Corpse’ and is comprised of three pieces that draw inspiration from the French collaborative drawing game ‘Cadavre Exquis’, with each work built upon a prompt taken from the previous one.
‘Marmoreal’ is the second series of pieces, each intricately and richly decorated with coloured marbled checkers.
‘At the end of 2022 I started to really suffer the effects of serious burnout,’ says Tantri. ‘I have since then completely re-shaped how I run my business… I feel like I have completely re-connected with my craft through play and exploration.’
Join us at The Design Files’ gallery for the opening night of ‘Making Space’, next Thursday 18 May, from 5.30pm!
New works by Tantri Mustika and Ella Reweti
The Design Files Gallery
14 Little Oxford street,
Thursday May 18, 5.30pm – 7.30pm
Friday May 19, 10am – 5pm
Saturday May 20, 10am – 5pm
Sunday May 22, 11am – 4pm
Monday May 22 – Wednesday May 24, open by appointment