June 9, 2015

For the love of coffee

Gillie and Marc Schattner might be award winning Australian contemporary artists, but their meeting with Pac Trading’s Natalie Kalinova came about in an unexpected way. Before Gillie and Marc started making art together as husband and wife, they each pursued creative careers of their own – while Marc worked in an advertising agency, Gillie started a graphic design company. Despite enjoying a successful art career together for over 20 years, Gillie still enjoys doing a bit of graphic design work on the side, and it was through this work that she ran into Pac Trading.

As soon as Ronna Zou (Graphic Designer from Pac Trading) saw a glimpse of Gillie and Marc’s art, she knew she’d found a great fit. Some of Gillie and Marc’s most well known paintings and sculptures feature their iconic hybrid characters, Dogman and Rabbitgirl, enjoying cappuccinos and espressos along the way on their adventures. In fact, Sydneysiders might be familiar with the one and half metre tall bronze “Coffee Drinkers” sculptures that have called Double Bay their home for a year and “It Takes Two”, a permanent public sculpture in Paddington featuring Dogman and Rabbitgirl riding a Vespa while Dogman sips his coffee.

Natalie explained, “We were looking to do something interesting for the release of our special smaller/gourmet sizing of the cups (the range has 6 and 10 oz), something eye-catching to attract attention. We checked out Gillie and Marc’s website and thought it would be a perfect match, as we wanted some stories behind the visuals, not just nice pictures. A lot of things they do are about coffee, love, urban life, cafés and art. So we put together a proposal and approached them for collaboration.”

And, what an amazing job they have done in bringing the mere coffee cup to life with cool artwork and a comedic twist!

Making coffee for the whole family is still the first job of the day in the Schattner household, and in Gillie and Marc’s Sydney gallery. The husband and wife duo are “two people working as one, with a single vision, something no one else is doing in art.” Together, they have applied the imagery of their animal/human hybrid to celebrate the powerful spiritual relationship that exists between man and animal. Their hybrid characters allow them to explore unconditional love, loyalty, affection and joy by asking us to consider whether a human might benefit from some of the qualities of the dog.

The iconic characters they have created, Rabbitgirl and Dogman, reference Gillie and Marc’s own remarkable love story. They met in Hong Kong, she was a nurse from England and he was a boy from the ‘burbs of Melbourne. Seven days later, they were married in the foothills of Mount Everest. That was over 20 years ago, and since then they have collaborated on their paintings and sculptures, as one, with a singular dedication and craftsmanship.

Their art explores relationships and love, and finds inspiration in their travels around the world and adventures they have had, or hope to have, together. They hope that their animal/human hybrids makes people think by challenging conventions, expectations and societal norms.

Marc says of their connection to coffee, “There’s a reason why we so often end up making art where the characters are enjoying a hot cup of coffee – and it’s not just because we ourselves need it to get through the day. There are a few themes that run through all of our art, one of them is relationships and another is modern urban life. To us, coffee is a symbol for modern relationships, because over a cup of coffee is where the real conversation happens. Relationships are made and unmade in cafés all over Australia!”

Gillie adds, “We also like the idea that our hybrids are going on these adventures and travels, which in lots of ways mimic our own, all over the world but then they’re also enjoying the simple pleasures that we all take a moment to appreciate in our local café every day.”

Gillie and Marc’s work has received acclaim worldwide, and their paintings and sculptures are held in collections both in Australia, and internationally. They have exhibited their art all over the world, with over thirty solo exhibitions. Together, they were Archibald Prize Finalists in 2006, won the Chianciano Biennale in Tuscany in 2009 and were finalists in Bondi’s Sculptures by the Sea in 2012.

Their sculptures have been commissioned by many large organisations and can be seen in Federation Square in Melbourne, the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo and Australia Zoo in Queensland just to name a few.

Of the collaboration with Pac Trading, Gillie says, “It is so exciting to us! Yes, we’ve been hung in galleries and have been finalists in prestigious art prizes, but we have never wanted to be elitist artists. We believe in art that is for everyone and that can brighten everyone’s day. Having your morning coffee handed to you by your favourite barista is a happy occasion on its own, but the thought of our art on the cup giving someone an extra reason to smile is really special.”

Natalie advises that Pac Trading plan to do more limited releases; they have such a great variety of paintings.

Gillie and Marc – STUDIO
Unit 16 77 Bourke Road Alexandria NSW 2015
T. (02) 9700 7103


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