He Made She Made (HMSM) are the recent recipients of a grant from the City of Sydney (CoS), subsidizing creative spaces to revitalize Oxford Street. The four members of He Made She Made, Bent Patterson, Maaike Pullar, Laura Kepreotis and Patrick Chambers, create and curate works within this space which, may be considered art, but often encompass the functionality and utility of a design piece. The collective sat down with arts interview to talk about the gallery space and the process of establishing a new collaboration.
Interview by Alex Bellemore
How did the HMSM collaboration begin?
Three of us knew each other from university and work and two of us were planning collaborative projects already. We all ended up looking for space and opportunity to try new things around the same time. The City of Sydney began a push to revitalize the lower end of Oxford Street through subsidised rent for creative spaces, which provided the impetus to form officially. What followed was a series of ‘meetings’ or sessions at the pub where the four of us talked about world domination and the like. Our agendas were written on the back of coasters.
What do you think are the pros and cons of collaboration in an opportunity such as this grant, compared to other collaborations such as forming out of art school, mutual friends, working together on another project etc?
I think the opportunity from the CoS probably gave us a reason to push ourselves, a reason to collaborate. Certainly I think if we hadn’t had the CoS expressions of interest deadline we would still be discussing how to set ourselves up, if we wanted to be a collective, if our practices even meshed. Once you’re out of uni/art school, furniture and prototyping is a solitary sort of project, but the need to keep the space open really required a team effort. It’s turned out to be awesome, having people around to bounce ideas and processes with.
The major pro is location. We would never have been able to afford a space entirely for ourselves on Oxford street without sharing it with 20 other artists, which is where most collectives start out I guess – in shared spaces. Conversely, a major con is that we are temporary. We aren’t going to exist in the space for a normal 2-5 year lease, so there is pressure to accelerate things.
How do HMSM see themselves as a group in the pop up gallery? As craftsmen/ artists/ curators/gallery managers? How do you manage this juggling of multiple roles?
One of us works professionally as an art director, one as an experiential designer, one as an interior designer and one as a furniture resurrector. We all have different backgrounds, and some of us suit certain roles more than others. I don’t think we see ourselves as being one particular thing, even if we all ‘make’ things. There’s a huge crossover of skills and we all attempt to don the craftsmen/artist/curator/manager hat with support from each other. We all have our opinions about all aspects of the running of the gallery, and we hear and respect those ideas. Some of us prefer the making of things and being able to facilitate the gallery from a practical level. Others have a strong interest in curating, or in running the gallery so the rest of us can take a step back.
Do you think a business/ artistic collaboration has worked effectively? Do you think it is better to have the two roles ideally separate?
Most of us have worked in our industries long enough to know that 80% of the time you are running a business and 20% of the time you might get to do something creative. It would be nice to be able to get the business to a level of self management at some stage so we can all focus on our own work – but then we wouldn’t be He Made She Made anymore. Every decision we’ve made so far has been together, be it creatively or in relation to business. You definitely wear different hats when you’re working together. Talking about finance or the running of the business is a totally different mindset to discussing the way to join two pieces of wood – or pull your hand out of a silicone mould.
What is the grand plan for HMSM after the completion of the pop up gallery? Do you see a continued collaboration?
The CoS has given us a low investment opportunity to trial HMSM as we see it now. We don’t know what public response and the local community will bring to the mix. It’s already creating interest and opportunities for us as a collective and individually, so who knows where HMSM will be in 12 months. Hopefully it will live on in some form – we’ll have a model and a business plan to take to the bank.
He Made She Made’s second exhibition: The Second Coming opens Tuesday March 13, from 6.