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Linton Partington (left) and Gary Kay say developing a collection for the InterContinental hotel was a game changer. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

New hotels offer diverse art canvas

The city’s pipeline of hotel developments is providing immense opportunities for local artists and art dealers. 

Perth-based art purveyor Linton & Kay Galleries has spent a substantial part of the past two decades adorning the walls and lobbies of the city’s newest spaces.

The business was founded in 1998 by directors Linton Partington and Gary Kay, who have worked with established and emerging artists on exhibitions, and on numerous residential and commercial property projects.

While the business has always had a steady workbook of corporate jobs, decorating many of the offices along St Georges Terrace, Messrs Partington and Kay said developing a collection for the InterContinental Perth City Centre hotel was a game changer. 

“The InterContinental is the single biggest project we’ve ever done,” Mr Partington told Business News.

“There was a lot of collaboration – with the owners, project management team, individual contractors, the designer Woods Bagot, the artists.

“And it wasn’t just a case of someone coming in and picking half a dozen paintings out of an exhibition and then we hang them; we developed themes and concepts.”

Over 12 months, the gallery curated about 680 pieces for the 240-room hotel, which opened on the corner of Hay and King streets late last year.

“It’s quite a rare beast; it’s original artworks everywhere,” Mr Kay said.

“Thematically it was all about the landscape of Western Australia. It’s our biggest tourist attraction. Kings Park has about 5.5 million visitors each year, so there was a lot of art referencing that.”

The InterContinental Perth City Centre features about 680 artworks. Photo: Attila Csaszar

InterContinental Perth City Centre general manager Adam McDonald said the brand valued the locality of the destinations where its hotels were based and looked to incorporate that into each property, focusing on local artists and pieces that reflected WA’s environment and spoke to the colours of the state.   

Mr Partington said a piece by woodwork artist Neil Turner, who is based in Capel, was one prominent WA-centric piece, with his sheoak timber sculpture Fire Spirit hanging in the foyer.

Almost all of the 19 artists engaged for the collection were Western Australian, three of whom Mr Partington said completed about 200 works each, including Margaret River glass artist Gerry Reilly and Barbara George, who creates ceramics from her Gooseberry Hill studio.

Mr Kay said it was the reputation from delivering this project on time and on budget, as well as the business’s existing relationships with interior designers and artists, that likely led to the owners of the Ritz Carlton approaching the gallery in March.

InterContinental Perth City Centre. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The $500 million, 205-hotel room Ritz Carlton and The Towers apartments at Elizabeth Quay are due for completion mid-2019.

While the collection is still a work in progress, it is estimated the volume of artworks will be similar to the InterContinental, with only WA artists so far engaged.

Messrs Partington and Kay said there was a global trend shaping the hospitality scene, with many five-star hotels moving beyond just placing a print on a wall to creating their own mini-gallery as a competitive edge.

“It’s all part of why you travel – to experience something else on the other side of the world, something local and unique,” Mr Partington said.

Opportunity

Showcasing Perth’s culture to offer a localised experience to its guests was the main driving factor behind The Melbourne Hotel’s decision to approach local indigenous artist Jayde Dolman to create a mural.

The piece depicts the story of the Swan River on the wall of the CBD hotel’s driveway, and is visible from the reception area.

The 120-year-old hotel reopened after a $40 million revamp earlier this year, and sales and marketing manager Kylie Sullivan said she was currently in conversation with local artists for more artworks to continue a local theme throughout the hotel. 

Similarly, celebrating the WA landscape was core to the collection at the recently opened The Westin Perth, located at the city’s east end.

There are more than 2,000 artworks showcased throughout its public spaces and the 368 guest rooms, handpicked by Sydney-based Artduo principals Sonja Brouard and Ilana Rabinowitz.

Backed by a portfolio of clients largely consisting of five-star hotels, with work for the Fraser Suites Perth on Adelaide Terrace among its previous contracts, Artduo was engaged for The Westin in 2015 via interior designer Bar Studio, with a brief to deliver various art forms that crafted a narrative reflecting the WA landscape.

A Christian Fletcher aerial piece at The Westin Perth. Photo: Michael Choo

Ms Brouard said the works of Dunsborough-based photographer Christian Fletcher became the backbone of the art direction for the guest rooms and corridors, which also include numerous fine prints.

Original paintings and sculptural works are located in the hotel public areas and penthouse, with 21 artists in total engaged for the project.

Ms Brouard said sourcing local artists was crucial to the brief, with 80 per cent based in WA, including Broome visual artist Claire Beusein and indigenous artists Vanessa Russ and Lena Nyadbi. 

Artduo has also curated a sculpture-driven collection for the QT Perth hotel on Murray Street, due to open in August.

Ms Brouard said commercial developments were an important means for artists to make money in-between exhibitions.

“We have noticed over the past few years a resurgence of art in hotels, to showcase it in a dominant way,” Ms Brouard told Business News.

“Our current projects are all using art to make a significant impact, create another point of difference for their brand and enhance the guest experience.

“Hotel operators are also responding to the trend that offers a home-from-home experience with interior touches that feel more personal and residential.

“With this in mind, we do feel there is a good opportunity for artists, especially those who are more commercially minded and can adapt to a specific brief.”

FORM’s curation of Crown Towers, which opened in 2016, was another large-scale injection of work for the local art scene, where 1,390 pieces were installed within the public spaces and guest rooms.

FORM curated 1,390 pieces for Crown Towers. Photo: Bewley Shaylor

Of these, 145 were originals (the remaining licensed reproduction artworks) and all 36 artists were Australian, with 20 from WA.

FORM has since been involved in commercial refurbishment projects such as Allendale Square, and executive director Lynda Dorrington said the state’s string of shopping centre redevelopments, new mixed-use buildings and health campuses were also providing earning potential for WA artists. 

Crown Towers. Photo: Bewley Shaylor

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