The entrance to the venue for last Friday’s Australian launch of Montblanc’s UNICEF collection was unassuming: commuters and shoppers on Melbourne’s busy Chapel street walked right past the narrow door wedged between two shopfronts. Blink and you’d miss it – we nearly did. A discreet sign was the only clue. But as soon as the door opened we knew we were in the right place. The narrow stairs of the Victorian terrace were littered with art – a Degas bronze on the landing and floor to ceiling canvases on the walls. As we reached the top of the stairs it was clear we had left Melbourne far behind, and were now in the Aladdin’s cave that is David Bromley’s personal studio. One of Australian’s best-known contemporary artists, Bromley’s work is instantly recognisable, full of bold colours and graphic lines. His painting and sculpture was everywhere in the studio: on walls and nestled in between displays of ethnographic artefacts, Venetian glass, giant Japanese bottles and art – everything from massive modernist oils, fine lithographs and pop culture prints was represented. In the middle of all this splendour – looking perfectly at home – was Montblanc.
Lovingly displayed on long tables were leather goods, writing instruments and fine timepieces, many accented with a rosetta motif and the trademark bright blue of UNICEF. After all, while David and Yuge Bromley were hosting the evening on behalf of Montblanc, the reason for the evening was UNICEF, whose work with children – especially around literacy – Montblanc has been supporting for over a decade. Proceeds from this latest collection will go to programs in China, Djibouti and Brazil.
We heard from Montblanc Australia managing director, Leon Mervis, and general manager, Randall Foote, about the brand’s commitment to supporting culture and the arts, as well as the the vital importance of the written word, especially in the digital age. UNICEF board member Megan Quinn, who was a co-founder of Net-a-Porter, spoke about the humanitarian organisation’s global work, and the imperative to educate and advocate for children. David Bromley concluded the formal proceedings, speaking about his own education and the place children have in his practice – particularly in work inspired by children’s illustrations, an example of which guests had the opportunity to make their mark on later in the evening.
All in all it was a wonderful evening for a worthy cause, surrounded by incredible art.