Bay Gallery Home is our Supplier of the Week; 11 – 17 July.
Alexandra O’Brien is an art dealer specialising in contemporary Aboriginal art collections that are ethically sourced from artists in the Central Desert of Australia, and runs Bay Gallery Home dedicated to this. This year, Bay Gallery Home worked with leading manufacturers including Johnson Tiles to bring these artworks to interiors products in a ground-breaking way.
We spoke with Alexandra to find out more.
The world’s first Aboriginal wall tiles – how did it start?
Cotswold-based Bay Gallery Home is the only dedicated Aboriginal art gallery in the UK. I was looking for new ways to use the prints by acquiring licensing rights, so they could be commercially applied to interior products.
The use of this intricate art for products such as wallpaper and tiles has never been explored before. It gives a glimpse into their world that many people don’t get the privilege to see, a glimpse of their beliefs and their spirituality. All of this is conveyed through their art and each piece has its own story. Therefore we had to find a way to make the tiles exactly right for this to work.
You recently had your official launch at Material Lab…
The world-exclusive tiles were unveiled at London-based design resource hub Material Lab on 29th June.
The tiles – entitled My Country – feature a selection of works by Aboriginal artists Geraldine Nangala Gallagher and Sarah Napurrula White, who come from a remote Aboriginal community in Yuendumu in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Richard Baskerville, Studio Manager at Material Lab, described them as “truly beautiful and would be the focal pieces for any installation. They can be used as one-off pieces, splash backs or as bold art statements. Ethnic interior trends are as strong as ever and Aboriginal art is having increasing influence on interior design trends, reflecting its popularity in the art world.”
Launch at Material Lab
How are the pieces made?
It’s the first time Aboriginal art, in all its intricate detailing, has been successfully reproduced onto ceramic tile, thanks to the technology of Stoke-on-Trent tile manufacturer Johnson Tiles.
Every tiny detail of the artwork was replicated onto tiles through Johnson Tiles’ specialist Artile service. Artile painstakingly reproduces any illustration, drawing or picture onto a tile with no loss of detail or colour using state of the art techniques.
The quality of the reproduction was especially crucial to the project, given that each image and colour has special meaning and spiritual importance to the Aboriginal people and culture.
Our rugs are intricately produced in a similar high quality, detailed manner in order to convey the unique meaning and importance. We work with a range of British rug manufacturers to achieve this.
What may someone not know about Aboriginal Art?
There’s many things people do not know about Aboriginal art, including dealers, because we are privy to a certain amount of knowledge, but symbolic meanings are hidden in the paintings. Only those initiated through sacred ceremonies will know the full meaning. Sometimes sacred stories from the Dreamtime are hidden underneath the painting we can see.
How does Bay Gallery Home work with the artists and ensure ethical collaborations?
We have spent eight years building a trusting relationship with the artists and art centres and always deal with Aboriginal owned art centres where we know the money is being fairly distributed to the artists and the community. On our trips out to the communities we ask the artists if they are being paid for their work and in relation to the interiors range we pay a royalty for each item sold.
What is it like to work closely with the artists?
There are always exciting stories! Some however are rather sad – I’ve had two incidents this year where artists I want to work with have fallen ill or gone walk about for other reasons. This often means leaving the community and being uncontactable for long periods of time as they are out “Country” attending to “sorry business”. One of my favourite artists, Alma Nurrangyi Granites vanished just weeks before her first European solo exhibition to help her daughter give birth – I was four paintings short one week before the exhibition was due to open. Nail biting times!
What can we expect to see in the coming year?
Bay Gallery Home is working on a soft furnishing and upholstery range. This will be available later this year or early 2017. We’re also looking to collaborate with interior designers and architects on projects; if you want unique or exclusivity we can certainly guarantee that.
To open a trade account with Bay Gallery Home and start ordering from them directly, click through to their catalogue below, and then ‘request a connection’: