Tag Archives: fabric art

Art Boutiques

Melbourne has developed a type of small, shop front, commercial art gallery that would best be described as art boutiques. Art boutiques do have temporary exhibitions but their regular stock is their primary focus. Not all of their stock is art but it is significant, in the past they might have been described as ‘gift shops’ but in their latest incarnation the term appears in appropriate for the eccentric stock for sale. Art boutiques do think of themselves in art terms and focus on their art direction. The art for sale is not intended to end up in museums but in the home.

Third Draw Down, in Fitzroy, calls itself the “Museum of Art Souvenirs”. Like all good boutiques, Third Draw Down has a style and design all of its own; the impressive central bench has a series of draws for displaying more of the work. Third Draw Down specializes in affordable art in multiple editions. Especially work on fabric; like t-towels, pillowslips and handkerchiefs. They have a lot of t-towels with prints by artists, a selection of which have been attached to canvas stretcher frames, ready to be hung on a wall as most are purchased as art and not for drying dishes.

When I visited Third Draw Down Kez Hughes (a VCA graduate) has an exhibition of small oil paintings of some of the limited editions works available at Third Draw Down. The still life paintings were displayed above the art works that they depicted.

There are many other art boutiques in Melbourne and I haven’t explored them all (I’m not presenting an exhaustive list of all the art boutiques in Melbourne). They come in a variety of styles and many are not to my taste. Also in Fitzroy, there is Meet Me At Mikes, Charles Smith Gallery and in.cube8r gallery. Charles Smith Gallery, describes itself (in Art Almanac) as a “gift shop” and is one of the oldest of the art boutiques in Melbourne. All of the Fitzroy art boutiques specialize in handmade, Australian-made, art and craft. In the CBD there is Outre Gallery, specializes in multiple editions of low-brow popular art, along with books and magazines on the subject. In Collingwood there is Lucien Midnight that describes itself as “art gallery & other things of your visual and aural pleasure.” In Brunswick there is 696 who specialize in street art influenced art, craft, spray cans, magazines and other stuff.

The growth of these art boutiques implies that there is a new market of art collectors and that the system of patronage for artists is changing. The new art collectors are younger and have less disposable income than the usual art collectors. But they are choosing to buy art and unique craft items rather than mainstream consumer items.

It would be to early to say that the art for the ordinary consumer, long envisioned by the modernists, has finally come of age. These art boutiques are not a mass movement and they thrive their unique merchandise and on not being part of the mainstream.

Street Art Media Watch

Street art is still a sexy topic in the media and a good way to sell a product. It can be any product from shoes, to magazines, to books, to cars, to politicians. Victoria’s anti-graffiti laws advertising campaign is now, after the initial public poster campaign, used by politicians and some hardware stores to advertise their toughness and anti-graffiti credentials.

There is now the sub-genre of street-fabric-art. Perri Lewis reports about yarn bombing in the Guardian but ultimately this is simply promotion for a book. In Melbourne there has already been lots of street-fabric-art: the word “Material” made from stuffed fabric letters has been up in Hosier Lane for almost a year now and there is the crochet-covered tree on near the corner of Gertrude and Brunswick St.

Crochet covered tree in Gertrude St.

Crochet covered tree in Gertrude St.

The double page advertisement for the Suzuki Swift (Attitude, #62, 2009) exploits Melbourne street art. The background for the advertisement has been heavily photoshopped but includes a few easily recognizable stencils, paste-ups and aerosol work. For example, Debs phone-car image is visible although her tag has been altered to “Dep”. I hope that someone is taking legal action against Suzuki for this breach of copyright. (Yes, if you paint it on a wall, legally or illegally, you have published it and in Australia it is automatically your copyright.) Do not support corporations that exploit street art – I won’t be buying a Suzuki – a bicycle is better.

Finally, to end on an up beat, A1one is featured in a one-page profile in Juxtapoz (Feb. 2009) magazine. A1one is an Iranian street artist. I met him when he visited Melbourne last year for the Melbourne Stencil Festival; it was his first trip abroad. Like many street artists he is a quiet, intelligent young man with an interest in local history and the community. His work can still be seen on some walls around Melbourne. Juxtapoz may be an American magazine but it has never been isolationist in its view.

A1one - Gertrude St. Fitzroy

A1one - Gertrude St. Fitzroy

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