On Murray Street in Hobart city, as you start on the uphill climb towards the north, there’s a shopfront window of a shop that is not a shop. Outside, as though pointing at Superman’s distant silhouette in the sky, you’ll find people saying to one another: it’s a shop! No, a bar! A café! Wait… a furniture store? An art gallery?
Schmørgåsbaag is the name of this mysterious, hybrid locale, which has been housing some of Hobart’s most interesting events since June this year. Basically, think of Schmørgåsbaag as Harry Potter’s Room of Requirement, but for Hobartians in need of a place to host, hold, hang or make things.
Luuk Wipprecht, the founder, coordinator and polymath behind Schmørgåsbaag, sheds light on the origin and aims of the pop-up space.
“It began as a little to no concept. I was collecting a bit of furniture here as I started to find my feet again [after moving back to Hobart from Melbourne].”
“Then I found this space, and wanted to encourage people to be part of the creative process – from food to making coffee to creating art, to restoring furniture, maybe making a few bucks. Every project or event that happens, hopefully that means it’ll become bigger and people will follow the experience as it occurs.”
“First it was some quiet little events, people drawing on the walls,” and the floor – you’ll see a hand-drawn treasure map under your feet when you walk in – “getting friends together, gathering more people around Hobart.”
The space is intended for everyone. If you can put a good idea forward, you can really do whatever you want, and we can help make it happen.
The theme of Schmørgåsbaag is transience. As a pop-up space, it has a finite lifespan in its current form. This naturally flows with two of Luuk’s passions – furniture restoration and collection. There are two principles behind these interests. For the former, it’s the challenge of reinvention.
“There’s so many things around that could be transformed that people don’t even see,” Luuk says.
For example: “I procured the mini-perm sign [pictured above] from a development site in Hobart, knowing that it was going to disappear, imagining someone cutting hair in front of it, having a little section set aside.” And that very thing happened – at one of the most recent Schmørgåsbaag events, a hairdresser set themselves up in that corner and trimmed the locks of locals.
Another example: Luuk tells us about a friend who showed him a photo of her bespoke 22-carat gold wedding ring. When he asked why she doesn’t wear it now, she told him that they had a big party once and they pulled out all the stones, melted it down and made it into something else.
“The challenge for me has always been when an object takes on a new life, and whether you can hold on too much to the past,” Luuk admits. “Letting go of things is part of the challenge of collecting.”
Which brings us to the second principle: letting go. When asked what one of the greatest challenges for Luuk is, he answers, “the semi-permanence of things. Knowing that [Schmørgåsbaag] could exist for either just months, or be something that lasts for years, and trying to make the most of what you’ve got at the moment. Having an opportunity like this is not a very common thing.”
“So I’d like for everyone to feel like they can play a part. The story’s become more important to me than anything else. But that also means it has to have happened to be written down.”
So while it is happening, and while the Schmørgåsbaag narrative is being lived, what can you expect?
Let’s take a look at the curated objects within. In amongst the vintage designer chairs, tables, drawers, cabinets and mishmash that makes up a collector’s dream is a magnificent autopsy table. It came from a museum, a relic from the mid-1800s that was used up until around the 1940s.
Another whimsical curio he picked up was an antique walking cane used by Henry Jones. It’s embellished with a brass plaque inscribed with Welsh names, members of the family from 1905.
But the story, in Luuk’s words, was that “Henry Jones always disguised the fact that he was a convict, so he made up this story that he was of a wealthy Welsh background. Eventually they came over presenting that he was of this wealthy clan, and got some sort of provenance, and they accepted him even if he was a convict. He was effectively creating whatever he wanted to be.”
So we have entrails of history littering the place, and that theme of reinvention rears its head in every corner. As for what the events are like?
“I spent six hours mopping the rest of the shop over the weekend, because there was clay everywhere from the Friday night dance party. There’s a girl who does pottery, and she set up a little installation over here,” Luuk gestures to one section with a smile. “Everyone ended up getting a little messy with the clay.”
Then there’s the food events. “[They’re] good for getting people to ask the question of what this space is – even over the last week or so, you hear people wandering by, asking whether it’s a junk shop or an arts studio or a restaurant or a café or a second hand shop. It’s interesting; having it ill-defined is nice.”
Soon we’ll be able to attend “a French night event these guys are setting up in here in a couple of weeks. I’ve been on a mission to find things that would fit that scenario – but objects that aren’t too obvious.”
“I guess that’s the artistic practice for me – having those little hints of what those objects might mean to people. Even asking the guys setting up the event: how do you want the space set up, how do you want to display your things? Getting my brain working and collecting things, but having them consider how the space could be decorated in the best way possible. It’s a nice collaboration.”
When asked when he’s happiest in what he does, Luuk answers: “I’m happiest seeing lots of people enjoying themselves. Setting up the little events over the weekend, having a whole chunk of people come through, from Friday’s DJ event through to Sunday’s record fair – two completely different events, both having 300 people paying to come through the door.”
“And I’m happiest when I’ve got people who are thinking similarly working on things together, flicking ideas backwards and forwards. I look back on the past couple of months and it’s been crazy – it’s been great. So many good people that I’ve met.”
His faith in and relish of people and their creativity is something you quickly realise about Luuk. “I’ve always been interested in what people are making, and what people are doing. At one time I would always go and visit people, glassblowers, people making pottery, making knives, things like that.”
And he’s passionate about facilitating the artistry of others. One of the most rewarding lessons that he’s learnt so far is “what people can actually create if they’re putting their minds to it.”
“Schmørgåsbaag is challenging what people can do if you wanted to start something with nothing. I’ve chatted to a few people about how much freedom you can get from doing your own thing.”
The space is an articulation of Luuk’s interest in “how you [can] involve community and change the way art is perceived, and become engaged in art. For me that means people creating things and letting them feel like they’re actually making plans to go the next step.”
Tantalised? Tempted to dip your toes into the story of Schmørgåsbaag as it unfolds? You should be. Follow, stalk, and send the space a line via the Schmørgåsbaag Facebook page, or otherwise walk right in and see what it’s all about in the flesh at 130 Murray Street Hobart.
Photography by the exuberant and talented Eden Meure.