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A retail renaissance: Discordia Gallery and Harrolds collide to celebrate a revival of Melbourne, art and liberation. .

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A retail renaissance: Discordia Gallery and Harrolds collide to celebrate a revival of Melbourne, art and liberation. .

In a marriage of fashion and artistry, Harrolds is collaborating with local tastemakers Elizabeth McInnes and Summer Masters behind Discordia Gallery. It’s in the diary for Saturday October 30, and will mark a triumphant return to our city’s beautiful, long-dormant streets.

After enduring the world’s longest lockdown, it’s time to emerge from the home in safe and whimsical settings. The quintessential Harrolds Collins Street façade will be reborn as a rotating art gallery, swathed in a lilac overlay and adorned with three standout works from Discordia’s trove for the spring.

Reconfigured to adapt a “nomadic model” for the lockdown part of 2021, Discordia has also been closed for far too long. The gallery is located in bricks and mortar at the Nicholas Building on Swanston Street, not far from Harrolds’ halls.

Each artist selected reflects new beginnings, but also a period of self-reflection.

Today, we catch up with the minds behind Discordia: Elizabeth McInnes and Summer Masters. Before unveiling the serendipitous spring window display, we’re getting to the marrow of what Elizabeth and Summer do, why they do it, and how they’ve interpreted Harrolds’ brief for an awakening of Collins Street.

Discordia can be translated to the Roman goddess of chaos, and it seems sort of beautifully befitting, as the gallery unearths and pedestals the best in rampant creativity, encouraging it to run wild. For those lamenting the hiatus of real-world art and its awe-inspiring immersion, read on, and prepare for a comeback…

Tell us about adaptation in 2021. How has Discordia stayed alive?

Discordia was founded in February of 2020, so the gallery has only existed through the pandemic. In this way, the foundation of Discordia as a gallery model has been one of perpetual adaptation, which has flourished through collaboration and partnerships with creative and non-creative industries.

I couldn’t run the gallery as a space where people simply convene. I’ve kept it alive by working with other local, dynamic and ambitious designers, retailers, hospitality partners and stylists. Art shouldn’t just operate in isolation, and the essential nature of adaptation during Covid brought out partnerships as a necessity, which is now an integral part of what we do.

In what ways has Discordia been reborn through forced physical closure?

Discordia has operated more as a creative agency in extension of the gallery since forced closure. I don’t see art as simply objects presented in white cube spaces, but rather part of a nexus of all creative happenings. All manner of experiences of exchange can take place under the umbrella of art. We utilised eating, dining and design partnerships to activate the significance of art: an inter-contextual activity that is not restricted by meeting in a gallery space. I have a resistance to uninviting gallery experiences that can feel alienating.

How did you conceptualise the Harrolds Spring Art Fair window display? What does it represent or communicate to Melburnians re-emerging into the city?

Each artist selected reflects new beginnings, but also a period of self-reflection. I work closely with each of these artists and believe they are the next generation of important Australian artists, ones that we will see for many years to come.

Who are the artists featured, and how does the trio of works come together as one?

We work with each of these artists individually and don’t see them as a collective, but rather that they are important artists within Melbourne who should be celebrated. Though, the works displayed in the window intertwine some key ideas around a sort of primavera after COVID-19.

I love the idea of reviving a closed retail space with new growth – Nick Modrzewski’s of sorts, and art as the vessel for that. Realistically, it’s about celebrating how meaningful art is to encounter after isolation and we can curate our meanings and values from what we encounter.

What’s next for Discordia over the ‘summer of freedom’?

We are trying to have more activations, more dinners, and more cool and unpretentious activities that are elevated and engaging.

And how about your grand plans for tangible gallery moments in 2022?

We don’t want to give too much away and live in constant instability, so how can we know? Our driving force has been adapting to the unexpected, and we’ve really loved thriving off the unknown, so I suppose identifying something tangible would be outside of our realm.

Where can we find you booking (if limits did not exist) for your first dinner out in Melbourne?

Poodle in Fitzroy! I’ve never been before, and I am beyond excited to try their menu. I know the restaurant is adorned with lots of gorgeous contemporary Australian Artists — some that Discordia even work with, such as Tully Moore. I look forward to finally taking my Maison Martin Margiela tabi heels out for a good time and a champagne.

And how about a long lunch?

A long lunch is always done perfectly at France Soir – what’s better than a steak tartare, escargot, and a sassy waiter in the middle of a sunny day? In a brief interim period of last year’s lockdown, I celebrated a series of significant acquisitions with a boozy long lunch at France Soir. It was divine.

Who are some designers on your Harrolds wishlist right now?

I’m a diehard Maison Martin Margiela fan. I have an atrocious amount of Margiela shoes and bags.

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