Pieces of Eight (PO8) gallery has for many years been that small object and jewellery gallery/workshop space on the bend of St Georges Road in North Fitzroy, across the road from the Fitzroy Bowling Club. In October, owner Melanie Katsalidis will pack up her precious pieces and move them to a larger location in the city on Russell Place that she has designed with with her father, Nonda Katsalidis. Katsalidis (senior) has developed the area that used to be an open-air carpark next to the Gin Palace and Sarti, which will now be known as Little Hero 2, and will be the new home to a number of shops, cafes and apartments.
The building itself is a talking point as it is the first to be built using a new Unitised Building system. “The ground floor, where the gallery is, is traditional construction but all the apartments above us were built as fully fitted-out units in a factory and then craned into place. It was called the instant sky-rise,” comments Melanie.
“The new PO8 space will house the works of 50 makers with the focus being on the wearable and small art objects”, she says excitedly. “All the works will be exclusive to the gallery in Victoria and we will show Australian as well as international artists. Exhibitions will run for six weeks and I've introduced a new series of guest curators as well as gallery-curated events. There's also a beautiful client consultation room for commissions and upstairs will be our office and a workshop housing two jewellers.”
Other new neighbours to the Russell Lane gallery include a cafe run by Con Christopoulos (of Gills Diner, The City Wine Shop, The Supper Club, Journal Canteen etc.), and there are whispers that Fat maybe moving in too. “There is also a French cognac bar set to open down the other end owned by Con but run by the Gin Palace,” Melanie adds. It sounds like there will be some other tenancies to fill the ‘super-lane’ in months to come, with hopes the council will open up the other side of the street for retail too, and potentially close the street to cars in the future.
Pieces of Eight will be keeping their current North Fitzroy location for artists’ studios (currently housing six makers), running workshops there with exhibiting artists. “Then next year I plan to launch a new online gallery for the affordable and collectable, a collection of totally exclusive artist made jewellery and art objects all made in set limited editions – the working title for this is X Marks the Spot. We will use the front of the building as a showroom for this project, so lots of plans in the works!”