Simone Boon is a Dutch born artist who resides between Amsterdam and Hong Kong. Living between the east and west has brought to her attention the different ways in which people perceive the world around them; realising that preconceptions, as well as understanding or misunderstanding are intertwined with the inner paradigms embedded in each of us by the culture of our upbringing. Perception thus has become an important consideration in Simone’s work. Another interest that Simone explores is how life evolves over time, space and place. Always in transition, weaving and layering, the fragments of life leave a trace of fascinating patterns. Simone’s latest series explores such notions from a female perspective; presenting a philosophy of becoming.

Artist - Simone Boon - Swan Lake -Otomys Art Online

Artist - Simone Boon - History In An Ice Cube -Otomys Art Online

‘Experimental photography is at the core of my work. In one photograph I capture more moments in time. It is almost like a mini recording and in this related to film. Intriguing to see forms of transition revealed by the camera that are impossible to grasp with the bare eye. My moving portraits of young women, unfrozen, aim to give a different perspective on the essence of identity. They hope to question existing preconceptions and archetypes of the female subject position, that penetrate our cultures and minds. At the same time they relate to romantic ideals and mystics that surround her imago. The aim was to capture the becoming instead of the being. Not the moment here and now, but the inclusion of the before and after…’  –  Simone Boon.

Browse Simone Boon’s Online Gallery.

Artist - Simone Boon - Passage I -Otomys Art Online

The weather was warm and the sun was shining bright on Saturday 30th March as we opened our Spring Show in the Tetbury gallery. UK director, Nikki Finch, curated a group exhibit that brought both colour, light and several new artists into the gallery space.

Like a shining beacon, the charming gallery window was illuminated by the work of newly appointed Otomys Contemporary UK artist, Marise Maas. The Dutch-born, Melbourne based artist plays with making what is usually seen as the unimportant, important. The precarious worlds which she creates within her oil paintings address narratives of the self through whimsical and childlike symbols. Her work “Homesick Horse” evokes a sense of nostalgia; like taking a peek back into the pages of your favourite children’s book from when you were younger. Her work welcomed our guests into the gallery over the evening and will do so for the duration of the Spring show.

As Otomys Contemporary welcomed new artists to the space; we also saw the return of artists such as Celia Gullett. Sitting confidently above an assortment of ceramic works, Celia’s two geometric oils on panel sat in conversation with one another. Although not necessary to be coupled together, the paintings pair perfectly through their similarities in form, but still manage to contrast one another through colour.

In addition, Otomys Contemporary welcomed the experimental photographic practice of recently appointed artist Simone Boon. Her work, concerned with human identity from a female perspective, presenting a philosophy of becoming. Boon’s embodies a flurry of crystallized movement and captures an ambiguity of form in motion.

The Otomys Contemporary Tetbury Spring Show will be on view for the forthcoming month as we welcome the eventual change in season and elongated twilight hours.

11 Church Street, Tetbury GL8 8JG UK

Wednesday – Saturday: Open 10 – 4 pm

Nikki Finch  nikki@otomys.com  +44 (0) 7484 751 157

Thursday 14th March, 2019.

567 – 569 Victoria St, Abbotsford VIC 3067.

Ben Sheers’ practice, particularly for the ABSTRACTIONS exhibition, is process driven and it seeks to retain the simplicity and magic of initial collage work.  By employing photography, screen printing, texture and scale he enhances the physical relationship between the viewer and the artwork and exploits the visual tension between mark making, flattened space and mixed media.

The timber sculptures in this exhibition are a natural continuation of Ben’s exploration of shape and space. They continue a dialogue of negative and positive space in three dimensions whilst making use of the inherent qualities found in the materials.

This body of abstract contemporary work is both precise and poetic. We are delighted to introduce ABSTRACTIONS to Otomys Contemporary. Browse the Online Catalogue.

‘This recent body of work was inspired by teaching my young boys how to use scissors! This teaching in turn taught me about the pleasure of mark making and the sophistication of cut and paste.’

Following an Honours in Fine Arts at Monash University, Ben Sheers’ art is now held in private collections in London, Sydney and Melbourne as well as the ING and Monash University’s collections. These works explore a visual language of shape and form through a variety of materials and processes.

Ben’s practice, particularly for the ABSTRACTIONS exhibition, is process driven and it seeks to retain the simplicity and magic of initial collage work.  By employing photography, screen printing, texture and scale he enhances the physical relationship between the viewer and the artwork and exploits the visual tension between mark making, flattened space and mixed media.

The timber sculptures in this exhibition are a natural continuation of Ben’s exploration of shape and space. They continue a dialogue of negative and positive space in three dimensions whilst making use of the inherent qualities found in the materials.

This body of abstract contemporary work is both precise and poetic.

In Australia we’re living in age of speed and sophisticated chaos and control. As an artist how do you see our creative future evolving?

I think the visual arts in general are quite remarkable in that you have always had artists whose practices embrace the age in which we are living and even help to push new ideas and technologies into areas they were not originally intended. While at the same time you have artists whose practice is grounded in the tradition. With these ideas in mind, I think our creative future will be one where boundaries are further blurred when it comes to artists utilising a multi- disciplinary approach to dealing with the practice of making art. 

And as a father of two young creative minds, what is the best piece of advice you can give your boys to navigate their way into the future?

Do what you love. You’re not always going to be able to solely do what you love but if you can keep it moving along that is something that will help you and become something you can draw upon as your move through all stages of life.  That and don’t hit your brother.

And … The best advice you’ve received?

I think it was something along the lines of “You need to make art for you and not anyone else because at the end of the day or I should say at 2 in the morning, no one else is in the studio cheering you on so you have to be excited by what you are doing”.

You have an added insight from teaching art to the younger generation – What are your thoughts on art education and what do you love about your day job?

I think the older I get the more I am just amazed by some of the things kids make and how their work has this amazing quality that we end up losing as we become adults. The irony is that it’s not until you grow up and study art that you can actually appreciate how beautiful some of their spontaneous creations are.

I think the thing I love about my day job is that I can learn and experiment with new things and not feel like they need to come back into my practice, that and as a teacher you can easily talk to 100 people in a day. Compare that to working in the studio on your own and I think the two, kind of compliment each other. 

Your art practice has shown tremendous growth in both medium and composition since winning the 2010 Metro People’s Choice Award. Your upcoming exhibition at Otomys ABSTRACTIONS is a total breakaway from your earlier oil paintings – What determined this change and what was the inspiration for this work?

The new direction in my work began several years ago but there were a number of different things that happened around the same time that led to the change. The first being, I took almost 18 months away from the studio because I began a major renovation and extension on our 1960’s weatherboard beach house. That time on the tools and away from the studio was really important in retrospect because it allowed me to reflect on my practice and kind of work think about art without the pressure of making it the same time.

The second thing during that period was a very generous friend and art collector invited my family to move into the back of their Merricks Nth weekend residence which  has an amazing art collection made up of Australian abstraction and indigenous art. So just being around these works day in and day out helped me gave me the confidence and the necessary push to explore abstraction.

Thirdly, working with building materials everyday gave me the materials and the skills to explore abstraction with. So I began constructing paintings with acrylic sheet and plywood  and combining it with materials I was already familiar with like raw linen and canvas. I started to build sculpture seriously for the first time in my career using form ply, which is used for making formwork when pouring concrete, and hardwood. So essentially everything I was learning while building was worming its way into my art practice.

You live and work in one of the world’s most beautiful serene locations – can you share with us any best-kept-secrets on the Mornington Peninsula?

I don’t know how secret they are but there are some nice secluded little beaches between Olivers Hill in Frankston and Mount Eliza that you wouldn’t even know are there. They’re generally pretty empty even during summer which means you can take your dog without any dramas too.

Pt Leo Estate and McClelland Sculpture park are also great places to visit with amazing food and wine. Both have some great works by Australian and International sculptures and because they’re outside the kids can run around and everyone’s happy!

You are invited to join us for a celebration of ABSTRACTIONS by Ben Sheers.

 

THURSDAY 14TH MARCH, 6 – 8 PM

567 – 569 VICTORIA ST, ABBOTSFORD VIC 3067

RSVP  GALLERY@OTOMYS.COM

PRE SALE CATALOGUE REQUEST

When I told people from home at the end of 2018 that I was relocating to London to pursue a career within the art market, I was met with a variety of responses. Typically, it was confusion. Why would someone want to move somewhere where the days are colder and darker, the pound in comparison to our dollar is almost double, and the only real beach within driving distance is Brighton, which upon inspection, is hardly a beach at all by Australian standards.

In hindsight, relocating in the lead up to the Christmas frenzy, and basically going from winter into winter maybe wasn’t the smartest of choices. Whilst watching instagram stories of my sun kissed, rosé sipping friends galavant around Melbourne, I was settling in and setting up. In the very brief period I had between leaving home and diving head first into work in this nocturnal city, I wanted to see, do and most importantly, eat, anywhere and everywhere before the craziness of the working year really began.

Now as we are suddenly welcomed by March and the dreaded feeling that the year is already escaping before our eyes, I can pretty confidently say I am getting the swing of things. I have mastered the ability to dart through the bustling crowds of the London underground whilst sending emails from my phone, and managed to quite happily secure my new ‘local’ for good coffee and free wifi. It is said that New York is the city that never sleeps, however in reality, the word sleep isn’t even a part of London’s diction. No matter the hour or the weather, there is always something happening here, so I have compiled my very own snapshot guide to London so far…

Around Me…

London is sprawling, with every suburb engulfed in its own identity and microclimate. Brixton is where I now call home, and let me tell you, it is the furthest place from the refined elegance of what I had thought London was to be. Brixton is a creative boiling pot 15 minutes out of the central madness of London with some of the best Ethiopian food and many popular emerging foodie hotspots. Brixton could be described as an eclectic mix of shabby chic, where quite frankly, anything goes.

If you want a KILLER coffee, as well as a great spot to fire up your laptop check out Stir Coffee. This is my favourite place to get work done. It’s a fuss free cafe, with great coffee ( arguably better than my favourite spots in Melbourne.) Dog and laptop friendly, this spot is popular for good reason. My partner and I find Stir Coffee perfect on a Friday when we are both work from home, and need to get out of the house. ps. I must mention they have The best carrot cake ever!

Brixton Village is my next go to. Made up of approximately 100 local traders, this indoor arcade brings together cafes, champagne and cheese bars, local artisan stores and some of the best local produce in the area. On my favourites list is Burnt Toast Cafe, with a sibling cafe being in Melbourne. If you’re looking for a cosy glass of Red wine to finish the week and a killer cheese board to share for £20, go no further than Champagne + Fromage. This place is humble and understated, like you’re stepping through to a small bistro in Paris.

For a slightly more vibrant and buzzing night spot, I’d head to Canova Hall. Set to the backdrop of its very own micro distillery, Canova Hall is my recommendation for delicious wood fire pizza and a cocktail. Saturday nights here will find the place buzzing and always boasting a crowd, but come sunday mornings, you will find the booth style tables adorned with proseco and smashed avo. Its a bit of a jack of all traits, and surprisingly, it ticks all the boxes.

Just a tube ride away…

As Brixton is only at the end of the Victoria Line, my journey into neighbouring areas is super simple. Most weeks, Im darting to Old Street, Shoreditch, or into the mayhem of Piccadilly Circus. Here I’ve listed some of my must do’s in London.

Art:

Here my days are filled with art; working with Otomys Contemporary  my spare time is spent exploring the big guys over here: The Tate Modern,  The Tate Britain, The Serpentine and The National Gallery… but what I’ve found to be most interesting is the smaller galleries. They are at times hard to spot but are like little nuggets of gold when you stumble across them. I was recently introduced to the app ArtRabbit, which for me, has been invaluable. Determined by your location, the app tells you what’s on and around you, and then gives you snippets of info into the galleries or exhibitions. It’s great for exploring the London art scene including art talks and events on any given day.

Do:

Every Saturday morning, in almost every park around the U.K is a fantastic free event called Park Run. Started as a way so promote a healthy active lifestyle throughout the country, Park Run is a free 5km run open to any level and age. Doing the run most Saturday mornings has become somewhat of a routine for me now. Its a way to really kickstart my weekend and do something active. I recently ran the Hyde Park route, and it was spectacular running through the park past the incredible architecture that scatters itself along the perimeter. Kicking off at 9am, the fun run is a fantastic way to meet people and see neighbouring areas.

Go:

My favourite place to visit; Shoreditch. Filled with the coolest of the cool, Shoreditch is home to some of the best restaurants, cafes, bars and shopping (in my opinion) in London. For great shopping head to Redchruch St for brands, or check out Goodhood for the best collections of curated streetwear and cool things for your home, that you didn’t realise you need. Not to far away is the iconic Brick Lane Beigel Bake where you can pick up a smoked salmon and cream cheese beigel for £4. Shoreditch, much like Brixton, has the appeal of not being too precious but also boasting some of the best design and art conscious hang outs. If you’re in the area, check out The Ace Hotel London. The Ace, second to its partner hotel in New York, is truely a spot for people watching. Whether you park yourself in the Lobby with your laptop, or pull up a chair in @hoipalloi for brunch, this place is always buzzing. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with Otomys artist Ian Rayer Smith here and we brunched to the backdrop of a string quartet playing Beyonce, what more could you want on a Saturday morning?

Eat:

Its hard to just pick one restaurant to recommend in London. If I had to choose a place that would be suitable for a work lunch, visiting relatives, a date night or even just a quick bite before heading to a show, it would have to be Dishoom. Scattered all over London, Dishoom is a modern take on traditional Indian, with a bubbling and electric atmosphere to match. The food is delicious, the wine list is full but not over the top and for London, it is very reasonably priced and open for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Like most of London’s restaurants, walk-ins only at dinner means a bit of a wait, but they certainly make up for it with the complimentary spiced chai tea in line whilst you wait.

Drink:

Slightly outside of the central London area is a neighbourhood worth visiting for a night – Clapham is home to the discrete and seductive Wine and Charcuterie Bar. Transformed from an old toilet block (hence the clever double title and abbreviation) W.C is a moody, dim light wine bar, right next to the underground entrance. Warm and inviting, this little gem has nibbles on the menu too if you get too comfortable to leave. We visited here with friends late one Saturday and found this to be the perfect spot for a rainy afternoon.

Honourable mentions:

Kricket – Similar to Dishoom but without the wait and the fuss, this place was designed by the team at Run For The Hills and is another favourite spot of mine for dinner with restaurants in both Brixton and Soho.

South London Gallery – Situated just outside of Peckham, this gallery is split over two locations and always has interesting and thought provoking exhibitions.

Colombia Road Flower Market – What better way then spending a Sunday morning stopping to smell the roses?

Afternoon tea at Claridges – The traditional afternoon tea of London in the heart of Mayfair. Booking ahead is essential.

 

Written by Bethany Woolfall, Otomys Contemporary London Art Consultant.

Responding to the energy of an Australian landscape

This is the Mullumbimby home and studio of Heath Newman, an Australian artist who is creatively responding to the energy, movement and character of the Australian land.

Heath’s work is expressive and gestural, with spontaneous brushstrokes simply reflecting his deep-rooted interest in botanicals, literature and Greek mythology.

Visiting an artist’s home studio is a little like walking into someone’s bedroom – it’s a creative space filled with personal treasures and spaces for quiet meditation.

Heath’s new home studio in the peak of summer is like being on a stage set – the Victorian weatherboard has aged beautifully into it’s surrounds, the sounds of beetles blend into ‘The Pavilion of Dreams’ playing on the record player, large banana leaves at the entrance lead into rooms with French doors which open out into rambling gardens and horses in a paddock.

All windows and doors open to welcome the slight summer breeze… Bookshelves loaded with publications on art, art conversations, artists, painting, botanicals, Greek Mythology, medicinal plants… A spread of very old and precious Bonsai has been passed down from his father for him to nurture and refine this discipline.

All the while we wander through Heath’s home with a cup of gently brewed calming tea, Heath shares his thoughts of how his work is travelling, what’s next, what he has planned for the year – his mind bubbles constantly with ideas and energy.

Extraordinary new sculptural works in plaster and a series of vintage polaroid studies with a note contemporary boldness are up next.

It’s not only this home and the art that exudes a great sense of optimism – Heath himself, always dressed in a fabulous combination of vintage fashion, it seems is always having a ‘great day’.

To request a catalogue of Heath Newman’s current body of work – please contact info@otomys.com.

‘For many years Sophia Szilagyi’s work has traversed land, sky and seascapes, inventing a universe that appears plausible yet is largely make-believe. Through digital printmaking she skillfully merges numerous images to create a distinctive sense of otherworldliness in her work that is entirely unique.

However in a marked shift from her earlier prints, sees the artist turn her serene and penetrative gaze away from the restless seas and churning skies, and look inward, to the private realm of home and the friends and family members who inhabit it. This deeply personal dimension forms the starting point for the works in the series. Yet through Szilagyi’s printmaking process of layering images and merging forms, she achieves a quality of timelessness and universality even with such personally significant subjects.

The original limited edition prints are created using contemporary digital technology. Yet many of them contain aesthetic qualities more reminiscent of paintings from the canon of western art history, than some of the current photographic sources from which she draws.

This body of work takes a bold figurative step in a new direction, yet contains the depth and unsettling beauty for which Szilagyi’s landscape derived work is so well loved. It’s a powerful statement of tenderness and vision.’

– Marguerite Brown, MA ArtCur.

Artist - Sophia Szilagyi - Arm -Otomys Art OnlineArtist - Sophia Szilagyi - Back -Otomys Art Online

The Equine Series by Susan Watson Knight.

‘Knight’s interest with the cyanotype began in her father’s architectural office where she first encountered engineering blueprints. The intense hue and technical precision became the trigger for her exploration of the horse bit’s evolution and design. On first glance, the objects in these cyanotypes look enigmatic and vaguely disturbing, almost like obscure medical instruments or handcuffs that pit cold metal against soft tissue as a means of restraint… Knight’s collection of nickel, copper and stainless steel bits with their joints and rings and shanks create tantalizing geometric patterns suggesting interlinked, stick-figure outlines of bodies united in a common purpose, like rider and horse.’ – Fiona Capp 2012.

Documentation suggests that the use of the equine bit dates back to approximately 3500-3000 BC. These original designs were fashioned from rope, bone, horn and wood. Metal bits evolved between 1300- 1200 BC and were made of bronze. Equine bits rest on the sensitive bars of a horse’s mouth and work with either direct pressure or leverage depending on the type. From a design perspective Knight is interested in the purity of these forms and the pragmatics of rationality and functionality. From a riding perspective Knight is aware that a heavy-handed rider can make even the mildest bit painful. The dressage rider strives to develop independent hands that maintain gentle consistent bit contact and a quiet dialogue with their equine companion.

Knight’s dressage trainer shared insightful advice that should be a mantra for all equestrians regardless of discipline ‘assume your horse’s mouth is as soft as butter..’

Soft as Butter by Susan Watson Knight is on view at Otomys Melbourne / 567 – 569 Victoria St, Abbotsford VIC 3065. Susan Watson Knight’s cyanotypes are available as originals or a limited edition pigment print. Soft as Butter is a series of 15 original cyantopes. Cut between the space is a series of limited edition of 5 prigment prints on cotton rag paper.

 

What is a cyanotype?

The making of a cyanotype is reminiscent of the magic found in a photographers’s dark room, when the photographic image begins to appear through a mix of chemicals and interplay of UV light and dark. The process is partially one of control and discovery.

Cyanotypes date back to the 1700’s, with a history linking chemistry and photography; known also as photograms, photogravure prints, sunlight prints, blue prints or cyanotypes, it is the latter which accurately refers to the colour.

The cyan in a cyanotype is often a highly saturated deep electric blue / aquamarine, although cyanotypes can be dark charcoal or green grey too.

As the chemical process has etched tiny stipples into the etching plate, the colour appears on paper as soft as cashmere; the tonal effects are similar to that of a watercolour.

American Cyanotype artist, Megan Riepenhoff and her assistant capturing an image at California’s Rodeo Beach. Credit Oprah.com.

Costume Designer, Kristine Doiel: Cyanotype from sheer fabric on A3 paper.

Light Forays is a body of work that blurs mental and physical depth. Haptic and scopic experiments integrate into event-perceptions, exploring sensations in sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and emotion, compressing perceptual diversity into unity.

‘I use light to explore virtually infinite possibilities, linking, generating, and manipulating colour. I am interested in colour and its manifestation, its presence, not as a filler for something but as the subject all of itself. As the camera narrows vision, I look to expand my vision by probing psychological, metaphysical and spiritual experiences. I am less concerned with duplicating physical reality and constantly question the role and limits of photography. I am interested in becoming a part of the picture and aim to produce a treatment of the image that involves the perceptual and physical activity of the viewer upon viewing.’ – Greg Penn.

 

Artist - Greg Penn - New-day - Otomys Art Online

Artist - Greg Penn - Brilliance-of-the-day -Otomys Art Online

Artist - Greg Penn - Problems Exist Only In Time - Otomys Art Online

AUTHOR Sophie Lewis of Est Living.

It’s a special thing indeed to be welcomed inside a gallery, particularly when you’re greeted by Otomys Directors Megan Dicks and Hannah Abbott. Megan and Hannah live and breathe art — and their passion and energy is infectious. Walking into the physical gallery space at Otomys, you’re instantly friendly with their fine art; watching an exhibition unfold and listening to the art being framed.

Megan Dicks founded Otomys with friend Nicki Finch, with the aim of bridging the gap between quality art and interiors. For Megan, bringing the two in sync makes a home sing, and the ability to elevate this ‘sacred space’ with a layer of humanity and emotion. The boutique gallery has since grown from focus on photography to a range of unique lithographs, etchings, oils and sculpture, presented by a plethora of homegrown and international artists. This is made possible by both Hannah and Megan now co-directing in Melbourne and co-founder Nicki, who established a new gallery base for Otomys near London earlier this year. And with a presence in London, the flood gates have opened for bringing European art to Australia.

Together Megan and Hannah place value in intuition and relationships. They recognise the trust involved in entering an artist’s studio — just as they do entering a client’s own home. It’s made clear by how honoured they are to select works that will be in people’s homes for years; a decision they do not take lightly. Listening to them speak about working with a client, artist, or designer, it’s clear they are exceptionally thorough and thoughtful in everything they do.

We were blessed with a moment out of Megan and Hannah’s busy schedule to talk cultural and artistic diversity, the importance of art in the home and what the future looks like for this thriving gallery.

Megan, could you please tell me a bit about Otomys’ beginnings? What is the meaning behind Otomys’ name and how is this reflected in your business?

Megan Dicks: The name Otomys is based on a Latin word – it is also the name of a very small mouse that lives in the Sahara desert of Africa. Not only did we love the sound of the name, but we also loved that the little mouse has been around for 2,000 years. It has a tiny body and very large ears. We liked the symbolism of the mouse’s ears because we are a boutique art gallery but also very conscious of listening to the market. We love the longevity of the mouse above all, so that was the basis of the name.

The idea for Otomys originated with my Co – Founder Nikki Finch, who is now running Otomys in London. Nikki and I are both originally from South Africa; Nikki’s from Cape Town and I’m from Zululand. We combined our passions for art and interiors as we recognised that at the time, art was very seperate from interiors. To go and purchase fabulous quality art, one needed to go to an art gallery which was potentially intimidating. I always felt this was a real loss for the art market because in actual fact, it shouldn’t be overwhelming, it should be really enjoyable. It should feel easy and exciting for buyers, because art can be quite integral to an interior and a well-designed interior can make art sing. We really wanted to bridge the gap.

Obviously that was many years ago and there are quite a few people now working on the same premise, which is wonderful to see. We felt as though we were a frontrunner as we didn’t know of anyone else doing this and consequently we found a niche spot in the market. With Hannah now on board, we have continued to run with this concept. But our grounding is definitely on the art side of the fence, rather than on the interiors. It’s very much about the art while considering the context of the art (the interior).

Hannah, you were appointed co-director at Otomys earlier this year. What has it been like to step into this role and what do you enjoy about the projects you’re working on?

Hannah Abbott: Honestly, it’s been a total whirlwind! Yet extraordinary. The way in which Megan and I work together is quite unique and we have a very dynamic growing team to support to our vision. It is a total luxury to walk into the gallery everyday. We operate in a space that is surrounded with honest work by a diverse range of artists who are practicing across varied mediums, intention and story.

With all of our projects, art remains the focus. Our projects are extremely stimulating as we have the opportunity to work with people who are original and innovative. Many challenge design and are open to artwork that has the ability to enhance and transform a space. That is much of the excitement in what we do; working alongside key design leaders within the industry. Educating and sharing the way in which art exists beyond the visual, adding an emotional layer to their spaces.

There really is never a dull moment in our day to day. We can jump from a morning within an artist’s sacred space (their studio) to a meeting on site with a large commercial client. We really are across several stages of the art process, which is most exciting!

How do you ensure artistic and cultural diversity at Otomys?

Hannah Abbott: Ensuring we uphold artistic and cultural diversity is paramount! Nikki’s presence in London has allowed Otomys to curate in a dynamic way which has been exceptional for our cultural and artistic growth. Otomys Tetbury allows us to have a touchpoint overseas – the ability to meet with artists in which we otherwise may not have the opportunity to connect.

Megan Dicks: Our travel allows cultural diversity. I’ve lived around the world; in Holland for a while and obviously in South Africa. Nikki has lived in Africa, China, Belgium and London and Hannah is very well travelled, especially to the United States. Australia is diverse and globalised anyway — you don’t even have to go that far — Melbourne does a very good job in terms of cultural diversity.

With the online platform, we feel diversity is something that we can and should offer. We are really working as a global community online. For us, it’s about wonderful works of art rather than us being locked into any particular culture. While up to two-thirds of our artists are Australian, we still like to keep a real balance deviating from purely Australian work.

In terms of artistic diversity, we started off with photographic work. That was a way of Nikki and I working our way into the market; less risk, more control. It also helped us to understand how a gallery sits in Australia. But very soon we were able to build on that with a physical gallery space. Now we offer lithographs, etchings, photographic work, oils and sculpture. It’s a big range and I think that’s important because many of our clients are repeat clients, so when they come back to us over time they may look for something else. We like to build on their story within their home and offer them a scale and breadth of medium.

Why did you choose to open a gallery near London and what opportunities has this offered you?

Megan Dicks: Bringing international artists to Australia has been major. It’s also been fantastic for our artists to be seen in London. Nikki has done a lot of international art fairs so has taken the work to a wider range of buyers. That is magnificent for the Australian artists. Our idea was always to have a profile that was holistic and not global in scale but in appreciation, so having Nikki across the seas certainly anchors that. It enables us to actually have a sense of what is happening in other parts of the world. Nikki is a fabulous part of the team; from an admin and creative standpoint, she’s invaluable.

Hannah Abbott: Otomys Tetbury has given us a greater opportunity to connect, particularly with our artists. Nikki had a beautiful evening in the gallery not so long ago in which many of our artists were in attendance, including the wonderful Ian Rayer Smith. Megan and I have not yet had the opportunity to meet Ian as he resides in England. However Nikki can share on our behalf and Ian can experience Otomys from the UK.

How often do you travel and how vital is travel to what you do?

Hannah Abbott: We both value travel enormously. Having grown up in South Africa and now living in Australia, Megan certainly appreciates travel and understands the concept of global living. Half of my immediate family live in America and Megan encourages every trip. This is an incredible support!

Beyond living globally, the two of us love to travel for the experience. From India to Italy, we are forever sharing stories from our time within different cities. We really do love the concept of journey. It’s wonderful to see how other people live and that fills us with energy!

Being in Europe, Nikki’s access to travel is certainly envied. Last month Nikki visited Caroline Denervaud at her studio in the Marais. Nikki had the luxury of jumping on the train and being in Paris within a few hours.

Megan Dicks: There’s something about going across the sea and gaining a new perspective. We love travel because it’s obviously educational. Having a breadth of experience assists us to having more of a global practice. It’s important to sit amongst other cultures and learn what their rhythm is. We both share a sensitivity to the person behind the story; whether it’s the artist or the buyer.

How important do you think art is in the home?

Megan Dicks: From my perspective, the intention of great architecture and interior design shows an appreciation of form, texture and colour, line and light, but is based on the fact that it needs to be both visually pleasing and practical. If you go into a well-designed home and all of those elements are absolutely maximised yet there is no art, there is a sense of void on an emotional level. I believe that a work of art adds the last ten per cent to the experience — a strong and effective piece will add that emotional layer. As a result, the space may resonate with one on a deeper level. Art creates something a little bit more theatrical in the home.

The intention behind the work we feature is to be expressive and our artists do draw from something that is deeper within themselves. They are expressing something internal. It’s not about sitting in any specific space visually, it’s about tapping into their emotions. That definitely comes through in the work. There are a lot of works out there where the intention is more about the visual. However, the artists that we are representing are much more focused on their journey. So many of them are uncommercial in the sense that if we ask them to create a work similar to something they have created before, they can’t. They can’t tap into those emotional spaces, they’ve moved on. That’s why it is important to harness works from artists that have that integrity and authenticity. It’s also why galleries are so important, because these artists often don’t have a commercial aspect to their practice.

Our buyers are investing a lot of money into really beautiful finishes and design for their residential project, so it’s integral that they’re choosing a work that ties it all together.

Hannah Abbott: Furthermore, when working within a home – we are working within a sacred place. To be given the task of helping someone find an artwork that they’re going to grow and live with is an honour.

We really do feel that the energy within the home shifts from the initial consultation to the installation. What Megan said is really important; there’s a real honesty about the work that we represent. And we’re very careful about the way in which we specify and house this artwork – for both the artist and the buyer. It’s very intuitive; we’re always drawing on a feeling as to whether a work works.

We recently met a wonderful couple, who had seven grandchildren under five. They wanted a work for their living room that was playful and fun so that their grandchildren could engage with the piece. That’s what we love, when people understand art is far more than a visual element. It may be central to the home, thus so worthy of time and consideration.

How do you work with local artists and designers?

Megan Dicks: Half of our work is with designers. The basis of Otomys is about appreciating the design aesthetic created in a home, so it makes sense that we work very closely with designers. We’re often in a situation where designers will sit with their plans and mood boards and converse with us in regards to the mood, the variety, the feeling they want to evoke and the story. Once we have that brief, Hannah and I have a conversation about how can we pull the project together and propose pieces to sit throughout the home.

When we built both the gallery online and physical galleries, we made it clear that yes, we’re art dealers, but we’re also art consultants. We understand design practices and we also understand what an artist is capable of. Being an art dealer and an art consultant goes hand in hand. We’ve got art consultants in Sydney and Brisbane as well.

It’s important for us to keep cutting edge pieces and new work online. There needs to be that turn over of new work and constant relaying of feedback and guidance with an artist. The dealer and the artist work well when there’s good communication.

Hannah Abbott: One thing in which we are sure that we uphold is that we understand the aesthetic or the intention of each individual — architect, designer or brand — and that we can nail their brief. We ensure we can deliver the best artwork for a space and that it is a unique offering. We’re very conscious that we read all of the information that a designer provides us with in order to tailor their project. That’s the beauty of working with diverse artists and diverse mediums.

How often are your approached and how often do you reach out to artists? How important is social media to your relations?

Megan Dicks: If we had more time we would reach out. We hardly do, even though we know we should. Predominantly we have artists contacting us. Social media, particularly Instagram, is about having a voice out there in a room of likeminded people. It’s not about followers at all.

Hannah Abbott: Megan and I have a pretty healthy shared thread on instagram – we are constantly sending each other artists, artworks and spaces that we admire. It’s critical in this day and age to be aware of what’s going on on social media and using these tool in the most respectful and professional manner. Our instagram feed is a great spot for people to follow our pursuits and keep up with what’s happening in the gallery. We also use social media to share insight to an opening or an artist’s studio. Everything that goes online is meaningful — and that can be a full time job! We want to ensure that we are sharing our unique voice (which reflects our values).

Looking to the future, what new and innovative projects, collections or events do we have to look forward to?

Megan Dicks: We’ve got a huge schedule for the next six months. We’re pulling together a spring exhibition and we’ve been working alongside an Australian celebrity (still undisclosed) on a book about art and nature that will be released early next year. We are expecting to have another solo artist exhibition before the year is out.

Going forward as a business, we’re conscious of aiming high yet ensuring that Otomys always remains sincere and obtains a sense of control about what we’re doing. We’re not about scale, we’re about ensuring there is integrity to what we’re doing. Our whole practice is based on our relationship with artists and it’s grounded in this. It’s about building to a size where we’re doing the artists justice. We want to make it something that we’re proud of at the end of the day and it’s paramount that we enjoy what we do. One of the reasons we can work as hard as we do is that our lives come first. We have a life-work balance rather than a work-life balance.