artworks: (Clockwise from top left) greg ades, marcel cousins, anna hoyle, deborah klein. porcelain bottles by kirsten coelho
Helenâ€™s enviable art display acts as the centrepiece for her home. âž”
a weekend with...
This Melbourne gallerist not only supports rising talent on the walls of her gallery, but also in her contemporary home Compiled by Carli Philips Styling Jason Grant Photography Derek Swalwell
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Who lives here: Helen Gory, a contemporary art gallerist. Style of home: This singlestorey Melbourne house may be filled with art but is far from cluttered. A muted palette and pared-back furniture ensure a peaceful atmosphere.
Helen (left), with Archie the Burmese cat, has a keen eye for detail, drawing in an array of pieces to add to her enviable assortment. “I collect indigenous dilly bags (above) each time I visit Darwin,” says Helen. Her various artworks, including Beacon by Chris Aerfeldt in the living area (opposite), have been accumulated over many years as she discovered new talent with her gallery. “The jam-packed hallway took a day to hang due to all the measuring up,” says Helen. “My hanger guy told me it was the best job he’d ever done.”
living area An oak table is brightened with plastic chairs from a catering supplies business. “I didn’t want anything precious and these are light and fun,” says Helen.
aving my own gallery was something I never envisaged at the start of my career. I would have liked to study art but I’m originally from Western Australia and there wasn’t an art school, so I went to teachers college and majored in art. I moved to Melbourne in 1975 where I taught at a local school, visiting galleries in my spare time. It’s like I opened the gallery out of sheer frustration from not creating the art myself. Now that I have a bit of extra time, I have this real urge to be creative and have taken up collage – it’s addictive, I just can’t stop. I’m also into sewing, making purses, clothes and bags from fabric I’ve collected. The spare room doubles as my workroom but I’m on the hunt for a studio because I want to get into painting and need more space. The day I first saw this house it was freezing and black outside with thick, heavy rain – I couldn’t even really be bothered going to see it. But the minute I opened the door, I knew I wanted it because of the empty white walls and open spaces for entertaining. My nightclub days are long over and I like having friends over for dinner parties. I do a lot of cooking and entertaining – I have an amazing kitchen for cooking but the counter is also the perfect height for sewing. The first thing that hits people when they come over is the floor-to-ceiling art in the hallway. It’s imposing, colourful and sets a theme. My concept was to hang it all ➔
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workspace (above) Helen’s desk is framed by the fruits of her latest creative and addictive pursuit: collage. Hallway (right) Placing the incredibly realistic black-andwhite drawing of a star by Cassandra Laing near the brightly toned abstract work by Rhys Lee shows the ease with which Helen approaches her house’s pared-back style. outdoors (below) Helen’s home opens out onto a park, where she spends most Saturday mornings catching up with other locals.
focused-salon style and leave the other walls empty, but I have so much it’s overflowing into the other rooms and I have had to leave some pieces with my kids. The walls are a history of my professional life. I started seriously collecting when I opened the gallery nearly 18 years ago and the art is mostly by artists that I’ve exhibited at the gallery. I love their work and can’t help but buy pieces of theirs from time to time. When I opened, I’d never run a gallery so I just learnt as I went and trusted my own instincts. At the time, nobody was exhibiting young emerging artists and I wanted to support new talent – mine was one of the first galleries to showcase unknowns. It was a long haul because people would come in and say ‘Oh, this is really interesting,’ but because the artists weren’t established, it was tough to make a sale. Eventually, the shows drew collectors and institutions. People started to realise that they could purchase quality art that was affordable. I always tell buyers that the main thing is that they love what they buy. If it becomes valuable later down the line, it’s a bonus so it’s a win-win situation really. The gallery helped launched the careers of Australian artists like Chris Aerfeldt, Abbey McCulloch and Marcel Cousins, and I also represent other artists including Oliver Watts and Luisa Rossitto. I’ve been told I’m ‘renowned for spotting talent’ ➔
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artworks: (clockwise from top left) joan letcher, samantha vawdrey, Amelda Read-Forsythe, robyn burgess, rhys lee, anita hochman, samantha vawdrey, cassandra laing, ben frost
“the walls are a history of my professional life. the art is mostly by artists i’ve exhibited”
sitting area The soft, worn texture of a Jardan sofa and the smooth curve of a yellow floor lamp from Space set the scene for the striking Jacqui Stockdale piece. ➔
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Helen ’s art display tips * A void echoing the horizontal shape of a sofa by hanging a landscape artwork above it. In small spaces, it can appear too symmetrical and crowded. Break it up by hanging smaller pieces or portrait works a bit off-centre.
* H anging with wire can cause paintings to hang crooked. Instead, use D-rings on each side of the frame to prevent things from shifting or sitting too far away from the wall.
Spare room (this page) Helen’s new-found love of collage has seen her light-filled second bedroom become a handy creative work space. Natural light is amplified by a big mirror that she restored after discovering it at a local op shop. She also uses this area to sew purses and bags from vintage Japanese silks. Master bedroom (opposite) Bedspreads bought on a trip to Bali and a textured wall add pattern to the white palette, while a lamp found at a secondhand store brings a playful element to the space.
* A rtwork doesn’t need to be hung on a wall. It can
look great on a shelf, leaning against a mantelpiece or even sitting on the floor like an installation. This is especially good if you’re renting!
MASTER Bedroom A hyper-real Petrina Hicks lightjet print echoes the calming mood Helen has created in her minimalist home.
but really I just choose what I like. I tend to favour narrative works that have something to say. I like humour in art and I love pieces that have a bit of a dark story. On weekends, I usually get up and do yoga and, because my house opens up onto a park with a basketball court, I often shoot some hoops. I like Saturday mornings because the park is packed with kids and dogs and there’s lots of interaction; I get to play with the dogs without having to actually look after one, which I like. I usually meet my partner Gadi and we go for a ride on his motorbike to the north side to window-shop or visit galleries. Sometimes I’ll meet a client on a Saturday, but I won’t go into the gallery. I’ve worked weekends for 18 years and with the help of my business partner, Nicola, I now have a bit more flexibility and operate a little more remotely. I still travel interstate frequently to meet artists and visit their studios. For me, seeing artists putting their shows together is the biggest thrill. It can be very isolating as an artist, so the opportunity to talk about things openly can be extremely stimulating and therapeutic. They’re putting their heart and soul out for the world to see and they want to know that the person selling their work cares. I’m quite nurturing as a gallery owner – the artists need that. For more information about Helen and the artists she represents, visit helengory.com.
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Helen’s typical weekend sees her meander around Melbourne. She does shadow yoga almost daily at Yoga Moves in Balaclava (above). Her local cafe is The Pour Kids in Malvern, where she enjoys a homemade chai brew (right and below). “The staff have all come to the gallery,” she says. Helen and her partner Gadi (opposite) enjoy a trip to browse shops and art galleries. Helen limits weekend work, but the lure of a Luisa Rossitto piece proves too strong (opposite, top left).
Creating… Collage – I just can’t get enough. I intend to do 200 before having an exhibition. Wishing…To have sell-out shows for every artist we exhibit because they deserve it and are all so talented. Plotting… How I can spend more time with my adult kids. Dreaming about… Having my own studio because I want to get into painting and I need more space. Reading… Little Man,What Now? by Hans Fallada. Listening to… Jack White’s version of Dolly
Parton’s ‘Jolene’ – it kills me. And the band Dead Can Dance who I saw earlier this year. Learning… To drink more vodka, be quiet, read faster and do yoga every day. Collecting… Fabrics, magazines, plants, photos, ribbons, buttons, zips, books, notebooks, handmade diaries and shoes. I like collecting fabric but I’m running out of room. I’m trying to cut back. Googling… Poetry by Jorge Luis Borges, essays by Amos Oz, The Sartorialist, Larry David, and the blog butdoesitfloat.com – it’s a visual feast of global artwork in various mediums. Procrastinating over… Learning how to paint with oils, basket weaving and doing pottery. It makes me really appreciate how hard it is to be an artist. Planning… A trip to Bali to visit Jacqui Stockdale who is creating new work in Ubud. Then India to buy fabric and jewellery, drink chai, do yoga and meditate. Cooking… Salads with a Middle Eastern flavour. I cook a Jewish Sabbath dinner every second Friday for my family. I want to plant a vegie patch as I use so many fresh ingredients. Contemplating... A trip to South America with Gadi on a motorbike. Over summer we did a road trip in Australia and I loved being on the bike. C
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artwork: (Bottom left) Bloodsweat by Petrina Hicks
what I am…
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