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Yep, we CAN have the best of both worlds: MART Gallery

There is a definite re-awakening every time fresh creative energy begins sprouting on the streets of Sydney, and in the case of MART gallery, it’s like a new recipe for chocolate cake topped with two equally delicious types of frosting. Combining music and art, MART gallery pays homage to the creators some of Australia’s best musical images, be it the posters, the video clips, the album artwork or the websites, all of which become as iconic to the music as the sound itself. After all, art is music’s ultimate muse, and this is exactly why industry veteran Mel Nahas decided that Sydney was aching for such a space on its art scene.

“I believe that the first image, poster, album, video clip, website, or interview you see of your favourite musician stays imprinted in your brain for the rest of time,” she says.

Mel was drawn to the beats of the music industry at the ripe little age of 16, and has since worked across television, radio, branding, marketing and label management, and has even tried the instruments herself at one point. She eventually started her own agency with her friend and business partner Jade Skelly, through which she manages the likes of Red Riders, Bridgemary Kiss, Maya Jupiter & Gabriel Francois. Around such talent you might say it’s easy to get inspired, but it’s the fact that she decided to do something about it that is truly unique.

“Having worked in the music industry on most sides of the flip coin, I have come across countless talented people who the public would have hardly heard about,” she says.

“These people are the ones who help musicians create their end image that is portrayed to the world, as well as somehow capturing our favourite moments and how we see them in our own minds for the rest of time. I thought it was time to put them in the spotlight.”

Once an upmarket gallery, Mel saw the place while she was managing the Levity record label. When the entire building became available, she knew it was time for her vision to be realised. She gave herself nine months to prepare for the gallery’s opening, giving her plenty of time to source amazing artists – and learn the tricks of the trade. She now balances management with being the gallery director. Refreshingly, she is not ashamed to admit she hasn’t had any experience in art – aside from the fact that she knows she likes it.

“Because I don’t have any experience in owning a gallery, I am just doing it my own way – making mistakes along the way, and probably a few more mistakes to come,” she says.

It doesn't seem that way to us. Since it was a gallery space beforehand, all that Mel really had to do was source some branding and she was on her way. Luckily for her, the talented Andrew and Mark Moffitt put up their hands to help out, and with the calibre of visionaries lined up for the future, it appears as though she hasn’t had much trouble finding talent to exhibit. Design company Debaser’s one half David Homer’s work is currently gracing Mart’s walls, and up next is a Big Day Out retrospective featuring official photographers Tony Motts and Sophie Howarth. There are loads more artists and photographers that we could list, including one of our favourites, Cybele Malinowski, but we feel like we’ve made you salivate enough. If you’re aching for the full line up, check out the gallery’s blog. Mel says that she’s excited to be putting a wall to the work people may not realise they know so well.

“I think the public will be very surprised that they know the work of most of the people I will be exhibiting,” she says.
“Although they may not know their names, they certainly will have seen some artwork they’ve done or watched video clips they’ve directed, so it’s really accessible art.
“I think its cool that people may be able to take home a piece of art from an artist who’s worked with some of their favourite bands.”

Mart Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 12pm to 5pm at 156 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills.

words: Seema Duggal
photos: Jacinda Fermanis


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