There is a gallerist in Renai Grace that won’t be quenched. She gave her first commercial gallery venture, Smith+Stoneley (1997-99), an edge that was lacking in the Brisbane scene. Life took her to Melbourne and other opportunities. Yet some years after returning to Brisbane, despite the success of her public art consultancy Creative Sight, she unleashed that inner gallerist once again in a joint venture with lawyer Paul Spiro.
Spiro Grace Art Rooms opened in Brisbane’s Spring Hill in 2010, at the height of the global financial crisis. Yet sales validated Grace’s curatorial instincts and SGAR’s ambitions have developed apace. In 2011, Grace announced a new art and design focus to explore what she has identified as an increasingly interdisciplinary practice amongst artists and designers.
She is keen to create this visual dialogue between designers (particularly those interested in making one-offs) and artists. Grace has been delighted with the early response. Last month (21 May to 4 June) SGAR participated in the inaugural InDesign Saturday in Singapore. An exhibition called “Inter_Play”, featuring miniatures from Australia and large-scale multiples from Singapore, at Chan Hampe Gallery at Raffles Hotel, highlighted interdisciplinary practice in contemporary culture in the Asia Pacific region. Audience numbers in one day exceeded 2,000. Australian work included miniatures by rising international stars: Alexander Lotersztain, Donna Marcus and Marc Harrison.
At home in Brisbane, the SGAR formula is two simultaneous exhibitions – one of contemporary art, the other of contemporary design. Coming up later in July is furniture from Fukotoshi Ueno (a new collaboration with fashion designer Akira Isogawa), 29 July to 20 August.