The Byron Arts & Industry Estate is full of surprises. The latest is the Thom Gallery, created by art dealer Alex Thom and his partner textile designer Michelle Sczygiol. Together they have transformed this large warehouse space into an impressive gallery that features eight-metre walls and a 300-square-metre floor space.
‘We wanted to create a world-class space that worked with our portfolio and fitted the Byron Bay sentiment,’ says Alex.
The gallery shows contemporary collectible work from around the world. On entry the art lover is greeted with a giant polished aluminium rhino by Christian Maas. The French sculptor’s work features throughout the gallery and includes a life-size very naked Marilyn Monroe, and what I think is a pole dancer.
Currently on show is the work of four-times Archibald Prize finalist, Sydney artist Jasper Knight. This is his survey show with industrial-styled works painted in enamel on wood.
His work is striking and one reviewer perhaps summed it up best with:
‘Knight’s image making draws from the things society has discarded as invisible, broken or ugly, yet the artist’s focus is such that he draws us back to or salvages these places and objects asserting a place for them in our world.’
Alex Thom previously ran In This Street, the David Bromley Gallery in Byron Bay and, for the past eight years, he has worked representing the artist in galleries between Melbourne and Byron. But it is Byron that has drawn him back.
‘I was as missing Byron too much and my friends and the lifestyle we lead and I think there is a huge hole in the market for high-end collectable art. The clientele are here – and we thought, why not bring some of Australia’s greatest art to them?’ says Thom.
‘We are looking at six major shows a year. Our next show is Conchita Carambano – her work usually varies but it is abstract in oils on canvas; and then in our Easter show we are looking at an Australian collectable, Aboriginal artist Tommy Watson.’
Thom and Sczygiol believe their space reflects the eccentricity of the artists and the clients.
‘We are avoiding dolphins, mermaids and frangipanis!’ laughs Thom, with Michelle adding, ‘We will only have living frangipanis!’
Passionate and engaging, Alex and Michelle were originally going down the path of ‘by appointment only’ but they felt this put too much pressure on the viewer. While the gallery can be viewed by appointment, it is currently open Thursday–Saturday 12–6pm.
To make an appointment call 0411 813 999 or view the gallery online at thomgallerybyronbay.com.au.
Thom Gallery is located at 1/6 Fern Place in the Byron Arts & Industry Estate.