Growing up in England, Joe Scotland had dreams of becoming an artist. But then reality intervened.
"I studied fine arts at Goldsmith [in London] but I was a terrible artist, so I started working with artists instead, which was best for everyone,” Scotland says, laughing.
His creative crisis has proven to be the art world's gain.
As the director of London arts charity Studio Voltaire, Scotland now champions emerging and underrepresented artists from around the world by investing in new work, offering studio residencies and delivering a program of exhibitions, events and education projects.
All of this requires money, and financing comes from the roving fundraising store House of Voltaire, which sells art works, limited-edition prints, homewares, clothing and objects by leading contemporary artists and designers.
“We didn’t want to go down the traditional model of a gala dinner or an auction, and we wanted to have a closer relationship with artists,” says Scotland.
From July 14 to July 24 House of Voltaire is popping up in Melbourne at the former Le Louvre townhouse on Collins Street. It will offer a selection of works by some of the most coveted artists and designers alive.
“I felt Melbourne had a closer synergy to London than the other [Australian] cities, so it felt like the perfect place for us to be,” says Scotland. “We’ve been noticing an increase in world-wide sales, and we’ve done House of Voltaire in Miami a couple of times with the art fair, so it felt like the logical next step.”
Inside House of Voltaire at 80 Collins Street you will find limited-edition silk tops by Roksanda Ilincic and Eva Rothschild; slogan sweatshirts by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller; hand-tinted etchings by Pablo Bronstein and limited-edition photographs by Simone Rocha and Kim Gordon. Alongside cashmere scarves by Peter Pilotto and jumpers by Sibling and Jim Lambie there will be a selection of works by Australian artists and designers including Hany Armanious, Tom Polo, Lucy Folk, P.A.M. and David Noonan. Prices for all works range from $1 to $60,000.
IDES chef Peter Gunn is creating an exclusive dining experience for the townhouse – The Dining Table by Peter Gunn – available by whole-table reservation for 12 guests at lunch and dinner. The menu includes oysters in saffron syrup; a sweet-potato broth; and a pistachio-and-date shell filled with feijoa ice-cream, chocolate and honeycomb. It will set you back $150 for four courses plus $100 for matched wines, or six courses for $220 plus $150 for matched wines.
“We’ve always had collaborations with artists and designers so it felt like a natural progression to introduce a food element,” says Scotland.
IDES’s food tests boundaries at the best of times, but for this there’s the added challenge of cooking in a heritage townhouse without a professional kitchen.
“Obviously at the restaurant there is a set up that works for us, but at Le Louvre it’s more restrictive,” says Gunn. “I have cooked for all kinds of different events, from Melbourne tram cars to rooftops, and the excitement of those challenges is what makes projects like this so interesting.”
Whether your jam is food, art or fashion – or ideally all of them – for two weeks in July the House of Voltaire has you covered.
House of Voltaire Melbourne
80 Collins Street, Melbourne
July 14–24, 2016
Mon to Thu 10am–6pm