Lisa Gorman on a Collaboration of Colour with Arts Project Australia

Lisa Gorman


Over a year in the making, gorman and Arts Project Australia have come together to create a line showcasing the creative vibrancy inherent to both organisations.

Eight Arts Project Australia artists feature in the APA x gorman collection now available for purchase: Georgia Szmerling, Rebecca Scibilia, Robin Warren, Julian Martin, Robyn Doherty, Anthony Romagnano, Robert Brown and Fiona Longhurst. To engage with APA beyond the collection, gorman founder and creative director Lisa Gorman invited emerging artist Eden Menta to work as a guest art director to produce Eden’s Project. New looks drop weekly encompassing clothing, homeware, kids, and jewellery, with a contextual lookbook that can be viewed here

With a strong focus on artist collaborations, gorman is an Australian fashion designer offering unique, colourful, fun and exclusive prints with local lifestyle and culture at the forefront. Lisa Gorman released the first gorman collection in 1999 and opened their first boutique in 2004 on Chapel Street in Prahran.

Almost two decades later, it is easy to spot the iconic brand out and about: a gorman wearer in a vibrant design appears buoyant against Melbourne’s grey landscape. Gorman’s optimistic energy marries effortlessly Arts Project Australia’s bold and daring artists, whose textile and jewellery-adapted work now stand front and centre across gorman’s 40 stores across Australia and online. 

In the following interview, Lisa Gorman talks about the process of coming together and the resulting creative collaboration between Arts Project Australia and gorman. 


Lisa Gorman chats ABOUT APA x GORMAN

the story behind the collection


What attracted gorman to work with Arts Project Australia? 

Lisa Gorman: Over a year ago, a long time staff member and ‘collaboration curator’ on the gorman design team, Kayla, visited the APA gallery that was then based in Northcote. Kayla returned raving about the breadth and depth of works she saw at the studio and spotted a great opportunity to work with these artists, translating the artworks across textiles. So, we had a closer look.

The striking component of many works was colour. I saw an incredible use of colour through the artists’ selection of palettes and bold use of scale and form. The works feel liberating and fresh. Pop culture themes are strong with the more illustrative artists, creating artworks representing the ‘here and now.’ Scenes like AFL footy, pop stars, newsreaders and stylised florals amongst a plethora of colourful abstract works are themes not too far from our heart at gorman, which is where the connection was initially made with the APA artists.   

Can you talk to translating the artworks into a dynamic and unique collection?

Lisa Gorman: The process of setting up the collaboration between the artists and gorman brand was facilitated by director Sue Roff and curator Sim Luttin who reflected on the collaboration through how the artwork of APA artists might translate to fabric and jewellery. The artists were selected for a range of reasons, including the adaptability of their works to textiles, free and bold colour and form, and for their ability to sit together collectively to create the range.  

  • GEORGIA SZMERLING’s style of artwork fills the page and is visually spaced like a repeat yardage print prepared for purpose. She has a brave sense of colour in her Georgia’s Garden florals but also works with softer tones in her Violet Landscape piece that lends itself perfectly to a denim base with its indigo tones. 
  • REBECCA SCIBILIA’s work presents a gorgeous abstract topographical formation in felt tip pen in various palettes as seen in Felt Tip Forest. I see a sort of psychedelic camouflage. This work translates onto softer sheer organic cheesecloth which offsets the intensity of the print to bring an element of electro-femme to the collection.  
  • JULIAN MARTIN features often throughout the collection, having worked with four of his original artworks across womenswear, kids wear and homewares. His super clean, illustrative and abstract works represent purity and simplicity that is applied to garments with minimal, clean lines. Martin is the only artist presented in the kids wear collection and three of his ‘characters’ come together to make up the magical range. 
  • FIONA LONGHURST has created a work that is lace-like and delicate. We’ve blown up the scale to take it away from being too pretty, the artwork remaining the focal point of the garment. Fiona’s work Lace Face sits vibrantly on textured viscose dupion.
  • ROBYN DOHERTY’s jigsaw-like abstract pattern of coloured shapes, some filled and some left for the unbleached raw natural linen base cloth to come through, is a study in colour. The linen balances the vibrancy of his work in garment form, the black and white outline giving coloured areas definition.  
  • ROBIN WARREN’s work Cellular has made an appearance in a small jewellery collection, pulling an iconic component from his work and turning it into a 3D cut and layered acrylic set of earrings. 
  • ANTHONY ROMAGNANO uses a mixed medium of pencil and crayon to create colourful imagery of silhouettes of people almost hidden within his work. Anthony’s Palette artwork is used exclusively in the homewares and bedding collection.
  • Our other exclusive homewares artist is ROBERT BROWN. Brown manages to illustrate florals in the most refreshing, freehand style using grey lead and water paints, the highlight being the quilted cotton throw rug resembling a blooming field of multi-coloured daisies. 

Eden Menta with Bentley and Emilywhat inspired eden’s project with Eden Menta as gorman’s Guest Art Director?

Lisa Gorman: The extent of engaging the community was an important goal to Gorman in this collaboration. We look for opportunities beyond simply working with artists to apply prints to textiles. In this case, we expanded the involvement of the APA community in the collection campaign.  

Gorman has supported two projects in addition to the collection, one being a ceramics workshop with local family-owned ceramics studio Robert Gordon and the APA artists, which is coming soon. The other is a photographic campaign of the collaborative collection with APA artist Eden Menta as Art Director. The resulting Eden’s Project is a series of photographs that give insight into their vision of the collection.   

As a resident artist, Menta is a wonderful illustrator, now developing their practice in costume and makeup while expanding her photography. Menta has a strong sense of style, their natural direction leans towards gothic, grunge and glamour. They are a total gun with eye make-up.

Menta selected the location, the outfits, the hair and makeup direction and the set; their chosen models are their partner Ben / Bentley and friend Emily. I saw their concepts on paper coming to life in their direction of the campaign with an eye for detail and beautiful use of colour.   

For someone who often describes themselves as ‘the darkness’ (joyfully so), Menta worked to marry their style with the intensity of colour-popping from the garments to pull off a textured campaign that highlights the talents of APA artists, from artwork to art direction to their real-life friends modelling.  

reflecting on the journey of this collaboration, what would you like the community to gain from the collection?

Lisa Gorman: This collection is a celebration of the talented individuals and the APA community more broadly, with who my team and I have worked alongside to develop this range.

Creating a collection like this requires interpreting and representing the works of artists in a new medium, which entails consultation, trust and understanding of what it is we are seeking as a collective. In this case, a collection that is not only visually exciting but reaches deeper into the community to bring you a holistic project beyond simply the product.  

I thank the artists who have been open to this concept, together we have produced not only a collection, but an array of creative activity that has more than anything, at least personally, highlighted the art of spontaneity and honesty. I would like the customers to see and feel this too when they experience the collection themselves.  

Lisa Gorman interview

Love from the Studio is a series of interviews and articles bringing you behind the scenes of Arts Project Australia. Lisa was interviewed by Arts Project Australia’s communications coordinator Tahney Fosdike.