Last Friday evening, at the terrace-lined intersection of Five Ways in Paddington, people streamed into the Ellery flagship. The crowd chatted while brushing against racks of crisp, tailored flares and metallic turtlenecks before climbing the stairs to the mezzanine above: Kym Ellery’s new art gallery. The designer is partnering with China Heights to share the muses behind each collection via fortnightly exhibitions.

As more brands look to create deeper connections with their customers in the age of fast fashion, retail extensions like this make sense. Fashion stores have opened with in-house cafes and in some cases DJs, but an art gallery that ties in with the clothing breaks new ground. You could look at these artworks like the mood boards behind what’s below in the store.

“I wanted to create an inspirational space for the community to explore and appreciate art, without feeling intimidated,” says Ellery. “Each season the starting point for the collection is art, so I think the gallery space feels like a physical extension to a theoretical space that has always existed.” Ellery wants to help the artists she believes have bright futures.

The first exhibition, which opened over the weekend, spotlights 28-year-old local contemporary painter Annalisa Ferraris. She picked up a paintbrush at a young age and her figurative style is reminiscent of David Hockney’s indolence; she focuses on LA’s Brutalist architecture, with its glistening turquoise swimming pools.

The paintings are devoid of people, which creates an intriguing tension. Abandoned lilac houses give way to pastel pools without a single ripple. “I love how minimalist architecture can feel isolating and abandoned, even when it’s not. There’s something so still and eerie about it, which creates a shift of space and a feeling of redundancy that attracts me,” says Ferraris. “Especially with swimming pools, they can shift so quickly from something innocent and reminiscent of childhood, to something far more sinister.” The artist’s sculptural ceramic range is also on display.

What is it about Ferraris’s work that inspires Ellery? “I feel that it captures the coldness and rawness of these buildings with such an inviting, warm perspective. I am very attracted to the calm sense of loneliness,” she says.

Residencies from lino-print artist Allie Webb and modern Indigenous artist Otis Hope Carey will follow in a fortnight.

The launch of each collection will be accompanied by a champagne event downstairs in-store. Artwork will then be available to view by appointment or during the Ellery store's opening hours.

Annalisa Ferraris will be on show from October 14 to October 26.

Ellery Gallery
Upstairs, 213 Glenmore Road, Paddington

chinaheights.com