The process of discovering a piece of work, buying it and taking it home for the first time, is an exciting and rather addictive experience. That’s the thrill of collecting – no matter what you are interested in or how big your budget, this thrill never subsides. However for many, the initial interaction with a gallery can be intimidating and off-putting. As a retailer, Franque on High Street Prahran, is a unique place to experience Australian art created by some of the country’s most interesting, collectable artists.
Reputation and trust are at the core of a salon’s relationships with artists and clients. The experience of buying collectable Australian art has to be made fun and relaxing. These values sit alongside knowledge and connections to the current art market and the true value an art piece holds.
Work by Michael Vale
At Franque, the approach is that everyone is a collector, it is not just a pastime of the uber-rich. One of the most revered art collections of the 20th Century was amassed by a US postal worker Herbert Vogel and his wife Dorothy. These civil servants created a remarkable collection of minimalist and conceptual art. It’s about spreading the word that “affordable” art does not have to mean formulaic, easy work either.
I live by our philosophy of the joy of living with beautiful art. The Franque salon does not present work gallery style. It places art in situ, amongst antiques and other interior pieces and I love seeing how the works interact in the space. I like how this can make the works more accessible and place them in a more approachable context. It’s about offering an experience away from white walled galleries to a more “realistic” interior environment.
It is nonsense that art and art collecting needs to be “high brow” and intellectualised to be “collectable”. I hope as consumers and collectors we have progressed far beyond this. An important part of the Franque ethos is to offer a connection to art for clients from all walks of life, to give the opportunity to foster potential interest from ‘normal’ people, not just the supposed high-end art aficionado.
Work by Sanja Pahoki
For me, the Story of Art is everything and I love to tell art stories. Building a salon is about being close to artists and close to clients and going back and forth between the two, sharing stories from the artist and the viewer/collector’s perspective. This is an ongoing dialogue with so many permutations. It’s about breaking down the boundaries between artists and client. The artists are regular, very welcome visitors to the Franque space and they love being part of the collecting process. Connecting a beautiful Sarah Thomasetti landscape, a Peter D Cole marble and bronze sculpture painting, or a set of Richard Stringer bees to the right collector does give us a buzz. The thing about collecting is once you start, it is very hard to stop. At Franque we seek consolation, inspiration and endless possibilities in the power of art. It informs everything we do.
Words by Sarah Hook.
Sarah Hook is the CEO and Founder of Franque, a retail salon that combines art, European furniture and objects with luxury brands Santa Maria Novella and Cire Trudon. Franque is currently features works by Bruce Armstrong, Peter D. Cole, Sonja Pahoki, Kenny Pittock, Sally Ross, Sarah Thomasetti, Liz Williams and Greg Wood.