SOON TO be coated, splashed and decked in paint, the walls of Gadens Lawyers’ Sydney offices are planned to enhance and encourage the firm’s philosophy of creative thinking when tackling the spectrum of legal challenges for clients.
The Gadens office makeover is putting into action the idea that there is a significant psychological effect from the visual impact of an office upon actual and potential clients. So, a review of the firm’s national art collection is to be made, and a selection of existing works will be auctioned and new works purchased.
A joint brainchild of staff partner Michael Bradley and other senior members of the firm, the decision to refresh the collection was inspired by the fact that the firm had held the same collection for many years. “It had been put together in the 70s and added to over time,” Bradley told Lawyers Weekly. The artworks had to be kept alive, he said, otherwise it would become “background furniture”.
“We are recycling some of the collection, some will be auctioned off to staff, some will be given away and proceeds will contribute to the buying of new art,” he said. “The collection has always been young contemporary Australian artists and we will keep this theme.”
As part of the revamp, Gadens staff will endure a social and educational program, including a quarterly temporary exhibition program of emerging contemporary artists in the main Sydney office foyer. They will also take part in informal artist talks and an ‘artist in residence’ program with artist Beata Geyer.
From the beginning of this month, Geyer has been working in house and will continue to do so until June. Working from a studio within the firm’s Sydney office, she will be developing a site-specific installation for the firm.
“The point is bringing the art to life and making it a lively part of the atmosphere in the firm, and creating a point of discussion, something completely different to what we do,” Bradley said.
Working in various media, including installation, painting, photography and digital, Geyer is expected to physically transform the office space. “Overall we hope to create a responsive collection that reflects the developments in contemporary art practice and the creative ethos of Gadens as a firm,” said Positive Solutions consultant Renai Grace.
“We have introduced temporary installations as well,” Bradley said. “Sculpture and other art forms have been placed in public areas to provide a talking point.”
“A lot of the art will be controversial — it is an attempt to get discussions going and create an energy and add to the life of the place,” Bradley said.
Once an innovator, still an innovator, is the message being portrayed by the firm. Although it has not been said, the firm was the first to redecorate as an exercise in public relations.
In the 1960s, the firm — formerly Gaden, Bowan and Stewart — was amongst the first professional groups to recognise and follow this trend which has now been widely adopted.