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    Enterprising spaces

    Deborah Singerman

    Rather than look and admire, Platform 72 galleries invite you to look, admire and seriously consider buying the artwork on show. There is a lot to choose from; the original space in Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, has a few hundred pieces on show. Founder and entrepreneur Juliet Rosser is all for opening up art and did not want a cluttered store room.

    Her second outlet, on the ground floor of the shopping centre at One Central Park, mixes gallery with designer Australian retail like the first. It opened in October 2013, followed by a bright, airy showroom in St Leonards at the end of August. A launch exhibition called Collections of over 100 contemporary Australian works reflected Rosser’s emphasis on quality work, the selections for which she attributes to her Masters of Studio Art.

    She takes a commission on every piece sold. But as she told the Sydney Morning Herald in a My Small Business article, “I just think people should be living with local Australian art in their homes. There’s a real joy to living with something that’s made by a person. Too many people are intimidated by art.”

    Not surprisingly, architects visit the gallery and interior designers bring clients to see the paintings. Rosser’s gallery mottos:”Life, Better with Art” and “Inspire, Create, Transform, Engage” shine in pink, blue and yellow. “I like colour,” she says, an underplaying of the vibrant gallery walls and painted selection descriptions, such as Inspired by Water, Contemporary photographs, Ceramic Living, Young at Heart.

    A gentle, multi-layered exhibition recently showing in Chippendale by New Zealand born, Sydney based, Chinese artist Gabby Malpas also highlighted colour in a mixing of water colours and inks, Maori art, found objects, flowers, Japanese neko (cats) and Hello Kitties, and delicate glowing patterns alongside personal text prompted by meeting her birth mother in 2004.

    Another example of enterprising spaces is a North Shore art gallery located in an area I had always thought of as strictly corporate – a space that resonated with a city makeover that I had just read about.

    Every Saturday night until March 2015 will be ‘Pedestrian Night’ in Singapore, when a 660 metre stretch of the major retail and entertainment street, Orchard Road, will be closed to traffic. Instead 10 tennis courts, mass yoga, walking and other activities will take over, aiming to bring street vibrancy and community atmosphere to the city.

    Place Partners’ director Kylie Legge suggested this idea in 2011 after seeing the success of a traffic-free Times Square in New York. The Orchard Road Business Association put aside their initial scepticism and took up the idea.

    It immediately took me back to the Singapore of 1978 where every night at 6pm a car park in Orchard Road (I cannot remember which one) would be transformed by a scramble of food stalls and chairs and woks and variations of fantastic Singapore street food (the pisang goreng was the only time I have ever liked fried banana).

    Inventive artwork, inventive use of space – these are all life-encouraging and good for the soul.

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