What's Your Bag: Francis & Martino
Ally spoke to her friends Francis Upritchard and Martino Gamper about the dynamics of being a creative couple. Francis is a contemporary artist from New Zealand. Her work combines cultural artefacts with found objects that become fascinating groupings of mystical figures. Her husband Martino Gamper designs furniture that defies the usual standards of harmony and symmetry. He is also known for his project 100 Chairs in 100 Days.
AC: Let’s start with an easy one- do you have a shared favourite food and is it something that you would cook or eat in a restaurant?
FU: Martino invented a ginger pasta dish, which we love (it’s pretty much a tomato sauce with pasta, except instead of garlic or onion, you fry a heap of grated ginger at the start).
I’m not sure I’d want it in a restaurant; it’s too much everyday food. What I like in a restaurant is whatever Tim is serving at Leila’s cafe, next to you on Calvert Ave.
AC: Martino- I remember a time when we commissioned a portable display area to take to an exhibition and you came up with corrugated card as a material. I was very excited, but then very anxious when 24 hours before leaving, the sheets of board hadn’t been touched. Thankfully you arrived in a whirl to whip up this construction that lasted for at least 3 seasons. Is everything done like this at great speed, and how do you formulate the plan?
MG: I only do that to make clients nervous. Making things at speed can be fun, but I must admit that now I’m getting older I’m taking more time with things.
AC: Francis your pieces are so beautiful, I can’t imagine that they are quick, are they all planned out before you start?
FU: I make my work very fast actually. It’s a very intuitive process. Things are planned a little- but not a lot. Your new designer Amelia was a muse of mine when she was very young- I started with photos of her face, which I made models from, but then as I’m sculpting, things always diverge from intentions, which is why none of them looked very much like her!
AC: Martino – I love your book, 100 Chairs in 100 Days very much and relate to the humour and playfulness in it. What’s the most serious job you have done for anyone?
MG: Did you ever see the log bench that was in the film shop on Broadway Market? It was this giant seat- a replica of a huge tree trunk in brown leather.
AC: Francis – I know you’ve represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale in the past, how will it be different this time?
FU: Showing in the Arsenale will be a big change. When I showed in 2009 my work was in a very beautiful, fancy, girly Palazzo. The name of this venue gives it away. It is strong and industrial with high ceilings so the vibe couldn’t be more different. It’s also super great to be in a group show, the national pavilions can feel slightly estranged!
(Francis will be participating in the 57th Venice Biennale main exhibition, “Viva Arte Viva” curated by Christine Macel).
AC: Both – Do you have a way of working together or round each other? How are the egos performing?
FU & MG: Ha! Good question, and since it’s Valentine’s Day today we won’t answer the full truth. Today’s story is that it’s always wonderful to have a talented person to bounce ideas off, to plan with, and to be inspired by.
AC: Martino – What’s your latest project? And will you ever do another cooking event like the mystery candlelit one with the individual smoke boxes?
MG: The next project is a monograph book on my work, which I’m doing with my long-time collaborators Abake. I’ll be back to cooking soon. In the meantime I’m eating a lot at the Marksman, a local pub/ restaurant where I designed the dining room.
AC: And Finally, Ally Capellino bags – Have you spent any time with them and please tell me how they work for you?
FU: Martino has an old over the shoulder bag, which I adore. It has a leather back and a canvas front, with large brass grommets that the straps run through. I often steal it. It’s pretty old but the patina on both the fabric and the leather keeps getting better. Martino’s just back from Italy with his AC x Norwegian Rain bag. He especially likes all the little pockets for headphones/ money/ receipts/ passport/ keys and the inside has a separate part for his computer.
Martino and Francis are pictured with the Quinn Large Calvert Leather Backpack and the Leila Medium Calvert Leather Crossbody Bag.
Discover the season’s collection of Calvert Leather bags here.
With photography by Amelia Pemberton