The ‘no paintings’ Gallery – a Platform for local designers

The ‘no paintings’ Gallery – a Platform for local designers

A gallery with a difference, the Platform Gallery was founded upon the concept of generating a space to showcase the work and craftsmanship of local designers, makers and creatives with a ‘no paintings’ policy. With a desire to challenge the notion of what constitutes art, Platform Gallery showcases the works of master crafters and artisans by ensuring their work is accessible to the public and is often displayed in a compelling and clever way.

With strong community-based values, visitors are guaranteed a very personal and unique gallery experience.

We love what they stand for and even more the people behind it. We would love to share with you their story and the people behind it.

Introducing Kelly Heylen, Co-Founder and Curator.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a writer, originally from Melbourne, but I now live in the Blue Mountains with my wife, who is also a writer. Apart from writing, my favourite things are working with artists and baking.

What was your inspiration to start the Gallery?

In my previous job I worked in economic development in the creative industries. What I saw was lots of talented local artisans with no place to go – our local galleries were all filled with paintings, landscapes and very traditional ‘fine’ art. So I decided to start a gallery that celebrated the handmade – at Platform we focus on craft and design, with a ‘no paintings’ rule. I think craft and design deserve to be in galleries, and I wasn’t seeing it so I created it myself.

How do you find your artists, designers and makers?

Two ways: the first is through all the contacts I developed in my previous job, and the second is Instagram. I search Instagram all the time for specific things – say if I’m looking for jewellery at a certain price point, or looking for ceramics. Then I reach out cold, and I have had a surprisingly great response rate!

Can you tell us a little about the art and products you have in the gallery?

We are currently in exhibition number five – so far we’ve shown graphic design, photography and lots of textiles. Our exhibitions change every four weeks, which keeps me very busy. So far all exhibiting artists are from the Blue Mountains, but I have just secured my first international artist, which I am delighted about. She is a feminist textile artist from the UK, and I found her on Instagram!

The products in the shop are all handmade, with about 60% from local artists and the remainder from elsewhere in Australia. We have ceramics, textiles, jewellery, accessories, homewares – quite a diverse range. Our wearable one-of-a-kind knits were very popular in winter, so I’m looking forward to seeing what will be the big seller in spring.

What are your plans for the Gallery in the next 12 months?

Growing awareness of who we are and what we do. I think we have to educate the market a little bit in terms of understanding that art other than paintings can hang on walls. I have the next 10 exhibitions booked in already, so my next area of focus is establishing regular events at the gallery, so that we can help connect and grow our local creative community.

Any words of wisdom you can pass onto someone who wants to set up a Gallery and do what they love?

You should definitely do what you love – just make sure you have a solid business plan first.

5 things on the bucket list

  • finish writing my memoir (and perhaps another book or two)
  • grow the gallery to the point where I can employ others and make a real contribution to my local community
  • go back to Denmark, where I lived as an exchange student 20 years ago
  • have children with my wife
  • See my New Zealand marriage recognised in Australia

Fav artists/inspirations?

Jeanette Winterson – for her writing, for her thoughts about art and her thoughts about life. There are few writers who can move a person equally with fiction and non-fiction, but she is one of them. I think I first learned to love art by reading her art criticism, back when I was an undergrad student studying professional writing. I hadn’t known that such passion was possible – and now it’s what I do for a living.

5 staples you can’t live without

I just have one – my rose gold and pony size 12 Rollies – great flats for running around the gallery all day in.

Favourite Hills & West piece – this is purely self indulgent

The grey backpack! It’s where form and function meet beauty and luxury.

Platform Gallery is based in Katoomba. They run two regular (and free!) events in the gallery that anyone can join in. The first is their zine make and swap night, suitable for all ages. On Sunday’s they host ‘crafternoon’ where local creatives may sip on tea, chat and work.

Platform Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition dubbed “birth of maximalism” which is centred around wearable art and textiles that are full of fire and flare. Be sure to check out the beautiful and tribal pieces by Designer Chrissie Powell which will be showing from January 12  to February 4.

To find out more about their exhibitions and events visit their website here.

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