Furniture and art space SODA Objects has opened a gallery, with the first surf-inspired exhibition by artist Henry Jock Walker on show from this Friday onwards.
SODA Objects opens new art gallery Staff Only
Though the walls at SODA Objects are a crisp white, the colouring from the bespoke and curated furniture selection brightens the space.
At 8.30am the sun shines through the high windows and onto the furniture — it’s golden hour.
Sam McLaren, owner of SODA Objects, says he’s glad we arrived early in the morning when the space looks best.
Opening in 2018, SODA Objects is a contemporary art studio showcasing 20th-century modern-style furniture available for purchase.
“It means that we can curate a selection of vintage modern design from that period,” Sam says.
“Then we also curate new furniture that’s still in production, either designs that were created in the middle of the century to now.
“We basically curate that into one selection. At any one time, we’ll have 50% new, 50% vintage, or sometimes it’s 70% vintage and the rest of new.”
Through collating these one-off pieces, Sam says they have “found [their] niche in the more radical European movements”.
When asked why it was radical European/modern art and furniture, Sam tells CityMag it was his “personal preference”.
“It was purely my love for the aesthetic of modern design — the radical nature of it,” he says.
He says it was specifically the post-industrialisation materials like metals and plastics that drew him to furniture.
“In the beginning, chrome furniture. I was really attracted to it and it’s the way that you can use it, and the way that you can bend tube — the tactile nature of it, the shiny nature of it, the way that it lasts for years and years and years,” Sam says.
“We’ve got chairs up there that are 1940s that are [in] completely pristine condition.
“Then there’s stones and plastics as well, which aren’t incredibly environmentally friendly, but just looking at it purely as a design object, I was really attracted to that.
“The things that they did in the 1960s, the radical Italian movements where they were using plastic, was some incredible design.”
To find such objects, Sam says the process is curated. He adds they mainly buy one-off pieces from interstate and have created a catalogue of wholesalers that suit the SODA vibe.
After creating a niche, Sam says clients now seek them out.
“We’ve been in business for five years so it’s enough time to become established where people know that you’re there,” he says.
“People particularly in South Australia, we find that direct offer of sale of a niche collector item will get quite a bit.”
The idea for a bespoke furniture and art store was born as Sam and his wife scoured garage sales around Adelaide. She, as owner of Pineapple Vintage, would search for vintage clothing while he would hunt for vintage furniture. They made quite the pair.
“As soon as I got a knowledge for European design, it just blew up really quickly and just got completely out of control,” Sam says.
“I bought so much that I had to get storage for it which I was paying for, then we thought we better do something with this so we started selling it through [Pineapple Vintage] and had our eyes on this place.
“This place” is located across the road from Pineapple Vintage in West Croydon. When beginning the business five years ago, Sam knew the finishing piece to the puzzle was to open up an adjoining art gallery.
“When we started… there was always this feeling that this space would make a really great place to show art in a specific room,” Sam reminisces.
“As soon as we were in here and we painted the walls white [we thought] this eventually would really love to create a gallery space.”
Artist Henry Jock Walker also understood why the space appealed as an art gallery.
“In big cities, the industrial areas, the galleries move in and then take over those big spaces and in big cities, it’s viable, and there’ll be 10, 15, 20 galleries all next to each other that are spaces like this – but in Adelaide, there’s not one,” Jock says.
“You walk into a room like that and you just get so excited because it’s the best kind of situation as an artist, it’s like a really big blank canvas.
“It does something in your imagination that’s [like] ‘alright, this is the ultimate scenario, let’s play.’”
Jock is the first artist to present his work in SODA Objects’ newly created art space titled Staff Only, adjoining the furniture showroom.
His exhibition Dual Fuel touches on Jock’s travels around Australia in 2013 as his “out of art school adventure” which highlights his love of the ocean.
“I did this lap around Australia in my van… that is the foundation of lots and lots of what I do,” Jock says.
“It’s been a good way to kind of circle back to that and think about that van at that time.”
By gathering inspiration from his trip, Jock says two particular materials stood out to him for his art and especially Dual Fuel.
“Neoprene — so wetsuits, rubber, old second-hand wet suits, have been in practice for a few years now where I’ve cut up them and resewn them back together and kind of make things that look like paintings,” Jock says.
“Similar to how I work with the wetsuits, I’ve chopped up the van and experimented with different parts — that has been more of a metal process.”
Both materials are used to represent Jock’s passion for surfing in his exhibition.
“I’ve been surfing for a long time and a lot of my artwork has come from using my surfing knowledge and community and all the materials and conventions in surfing and kind of playing with that stuff in lots of different ways,” Jock says.
“So neoprene became a way for me to make paintings in my own way that I really, really love.”
Dual Fuel is on show at Staff Only from December 1 until December 24. Staff Only is located inside SODA Objects at 1 Rosetta Street, West Croydon and is open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 11am until 5pm.