Spotlight: Fanny Adams Vintage

Walking into Fanny Adams Vintage the first thing I noticed was how entrenched in 80s and 90s pop culture it was, with the walls of the staircase covered in movie posters. Stepping into the kitchen area, murals by different artists covering the walls, my eyes were drawn to the enchanting replication of a large tree – its blue, purple and green hues gave it a mystical element. In the adjoining room racks full of denim, t-shirts and pants sat ready for purchase, all of which had their own original and personal flair, customised to maintain originality. Fanny Adams Vintage is also home to Project Awesome, a collection of colourful, pop-culture influenced, customised denim by local Adelaide artists, with each design being unique and never again to be replicated.


fanny adams project awesome
Project Awesome.

 I sat down with Tiphany (owner of Fanny Adams Vintage) in the kitchen area, parallel to the television which played Dirty Dancing, while Blondie’s Atomic played in the background.  


When did you initially set up the store and what did you envision it would become?


It started off as being online and then a pop-up store at the Fringe which was located just on Pirrie Street. I always wanted it to be a physical location. Online, [it] was just easier to start that way but I always just wanted my own space. The pop-up store went quite well. I was supposed to stay there for a little bit longer, four weeks of the Fringe and then the option to stay on but at the last minute it was offered to a big chain store, so I had to bump out the last day of the Fringe – that was a bit of a panic. This place popped up within the next week which was lucky. It just snowballed into that and so now in this premise because it’s a little bit bigger we can do events and stuff.


When Fanny Adams first started it was just vintage clothes as that was my first passion. I personally like vintage clothes because they’re unique, nobody else has got it… I don’t like looking like everyone else with what I wear. I like having things no one else can have. I started seeing all this customised denim on Instagram and it didn’t seem fair that only models get customised denim jackets. I want one as well. And I know I can’t make one but I can definitely get hold of jackets and I know people who can make one. That’s how Project Awesome started. I just found five artists that were willing to come on board and give it a try. And I was working at another vintage store at the time so I stocked the jackets through the store as well as on Etsy just to sort of test the market and to see how well they would actually sell in Adelaide and they did really well so that was the beginning of 2017 and the by mid-year I did a second run of denim jackets and then by the end of the year I was gearing up to do the pop up store at the Fringe so I had twenty artists on board by the end of the year.


I just kept going with it. People seem to like it. It’s a popular concept and that grew again because all of the artists involved kept saying how much they would like to connect with other artists and that it can feel quite isolating working as an artist you don’t really get that often a chance to connect to other people and to talk about contacts and processes. So we had a catch up drinks and that went really well.


The Project Awesome crew – or the Fanny Pack as I like to call them – they’ve grown into quite a little artist collective. Everything that is stocked in the shop now that’s all ‘Pack’ merchandise.


Now we’ve got the events as well. We had a music gig last Saturday, [the 28th of July]. Again, the musician was one of my artists.


Have there been any changes to the original vision?


Yes, definitely. It just keeps growing. I didn’t set out with the intention of being an artist collection. And I certainly didn’t set out with the intention to do events either. That’s all just sort of formed from the response from the artists. They’ve just been so wonderful to work with I just wanted to help the artists themselves and [offer] different ways of getting them out to a further audience than to what they would do on their own. I have no idea what’s coming next but that’s part of the fun.


Where did the name Fanny Adams come from?


I wanted a name that was like an old school saying you’d hear your grandparents but wanted a name that wasn’t as typical as a lot of the names around at the time. I liked the fact that it broke down to FA the beloved Aussie slang ‘fuck all’. Fanny Adams was one of the first things that popped into my head and it kind of just stuck. It was catchy and a little bit risqué on some levels.


What do you want your customers to feel when they enter the store? What experience do you want them to have?


I would love Fanny Adams to be seen as the ultimate safe space for self-expression and creativity. I want them to feel happy and comfortable and inspired which seems to be happening and seems to be the feedback I’m getting from a lot of people which is great. With the clothing in particular I’ve always had the mindset that it’s not male or female. It’s unisex. It all should be unisex. I want anyone that comes in that is on any kind of journey of self-expression or self-discovery to feel free to be able to try anything on. If you put it on and it feels good and it fits then wear it. It’s not ‘oh I can’t because that’s a girl thing’. I want to try and cultivate that kind of mindset, to help be more inclusive.


What do you feel sets Fanny Adams out from other stores?


I think it’s the combination of the product offering. I try to keep the stock quite specialised to 80s and 90s but Project Awesome really is the standout and that’s really what I want the focus to be on helping Adelaide and the Adelaide artist crew. The jackets are such unique pieces, having a specific collection from a group of so many different people, so many diverse styles, in one direct spot.


What project have you been most proud of?


The jackets and the fact that the artists have got together so beautifully and that has become a collective has become incredibly rewarding and that definitely has become a driver for me and I’ve realised that what I really want to do is not just have a shop but the real joy comes from working with these amazing, creative, talented people of so many different backgrounds and all of them have been a delight to work with and so willing to participate.


If you could tell your customers one thing before they entered the store what would it be?


Just to not be shy. Come in and experience all of it. Don’t be afraid to try something different, to find the inner you, to let it come out whether that be through art or clothes or whether that’s through your choice of music. I’m a lover of pop culture because I believe it is a reflection of our time and can be a reflection of yourself and that’s really important to discover and be true to.

fanny adams 2
Fanny Adams Vintage.

Could you please explain your involvement with SALA and what do customers and festival attendees have to look forward too?


We have a registered SALA event and is called ‘Radelaide on Denim’, which does have a hashtag and does have an Instagram page as well. It is a collection of 15 of my artists involved. There will be a hung exhibition of their artwork. We are launching on 11th of August which is our opening night and on that night, we will also be holding a little mini fashion parade, showcasing all of the jackets and we will have all of the hair and makeup done by Colour Cosmetica.


The exhibition will remain hung until the 31st of August. All artworks will be available for sale. The shop will be trading as normal. Kick off at 6 o’clock. Doors open at 6, parade at 7 and we’ll be going through until 10. It’s a free event as well.


Are there any future projects we can look forward too?


During Feast Festival we are hosting an installation by Danny Jarrett, who’s one of my artists. He will be commandeering this kitchen space into what I believe will be called ‘Queerzone’. We will definitely have a launch night for that and are looking into booking a second event to tie in with the Feast Festival.


I’ve wanted to start aiming for an event a month, so we’re probably going to try and do some more music gigs.


Can’t wait for Fringe, God knows what we’re going to do.

I personally cannot wait to see what Fanny Adams will create next. Not only are the clothes on offer original, fantastic and vintage, it has become a refuge for artists and a place where art can flourish. Adelaide’s local artist scene plays such an important role in a unique local business, making it a business to definitely look out for and support.


Words by Georgina Banfield


Photos courtesy of Tiphany Wheatley-Dawson


The Artists of Viewpoint


Earlier this month, Sarah Ingham and I attended the opening night of Viewpoint, an art exhibition at the Light Square Gallery featuring nine recent graduates from Adelaide College of the Arts. The exhibition is due to end May 31th, so I thought it would be a great time to touch base with the artists and learn more about what went into this exhibition, and where they plan to go next. I was lucky enough to have a chat with a few of the artists and sit in on a talk they were giving about the exhibition process.

One of the first questions I asked was about whether their work reflected their personal relationship with the River Torrens. There were mixed responses. It seems that Annelise Forster had a strong emotional attachment to the river through her childhood memories which was reflected in her piece Stone Hopping. Yet Sophie Mahoney-Longford didn’t have as much of a connection, making her pieces, Riverbank, Ripple, and Reeds, genuine observational views. She also commented that she didn’t worry about trying to infuse her piece with symbolism, presenting her own candid approach. Thea Nicole Paulmitan chose to present a contemporary view of the river, looking beyond the river itself to the surrounding architecture in her pieces: Water & Bridge, Bridge & Water, and Hazy Torrens. Bernadette Freeman regularly visits the Torrens and says: “It was a wonderful opportunity for me to stop and reflect on its beauty and complexity.” As Forster said during the talk, they all chose different things to focus on, they all presented “different viewpoints”.

As with selecting different views and interpretations of their River Torrens theme, each artist had a different style or medium with which to approach their task. The mediums ranged from traditional oil painting, acrylics, paint pouring, sculpture, and photography. Each piece reflected the individual style of the artist, and, as Mahoney-Longford said: “provide our individual responses” to the subject.

Jane Heron-Kirkmoe was one of the artists who spoke to me about her art making process. She was lucky with the gallery space as an unplanned breeze impacted on her piece Spill the Overflow perfectly. She typically works in white and in multiples, forming objects with a contemporary edge. Her works are intended to provoke thought and encourages viewers to “find their own narrative”. She concedes that while her focus is on materiality and the beauty of the everyday, the work is not overly commercial.

While it was important to some of the artists to simply use this exhibition opportunity to express themselves, it was also important to others to make work which was sellable. Mahoney-Longford mentioned that two of her three pieces have already been purchased, and that it was a deliberate choice by her to leave her pieces unframed and therefore more affordable. It can be very important to have works that can be sold in order to balance the cost of creation.

During the group discussion, Ann Podzuweit made a point about the importance of artists having a day-job, as they often pay for your art. Bernadette Freeman made an interesting analogy, which I can personally relate to: art shops such as Eckersley’s are the artist’s lolly shop, but the sweets are much more expensive and add up much quicker. Heron-Kirkmoe also spoke about the importance of a day job, telling me the day job allows her to make art –time management can be a challenge though. Many artists tend to be in the same boat here. It is a delicate balance.

When I was speaking to Paulmitan, I asked if she were to start again with her pieces if she would approach them differently. She was adamant that she would take the same approach. It’s a part of her process to take photos and manipulate imagery, even putting together physical collages before settling on an idea and beginning to paint. Viewpoint is the first of Paulmitan’s exhibitions to feature both her painting and photo-manipulation. While she didn’t originally intend to display her photography, Paulmitan is very happy she took a step away from the traditional mediums predominantly featured in the exhibition.

I think that the most important lesson that these women shared is that it is integral to produce work that “expresses yourself, reflects you, and that you love.” Kylie Nichols stresses that she loves making her work, which is something that artists of any practice can aspire to. Forster mentions how important it is to find what works for you and use it. For her, it is being a social artist and being around people who she can discuss her work with. For others, this might be working independently.

In terms of advice for those considering their own exhibition with a group, these artists had plenty. It’s all about organisation and playing to your strengths. You need to get organised early. Look at grant applications and sponsorship opportunities, do what you can yourself (online advertisement via social media), consider the space you need and how it can be best used to the advantage of your works. One important thing to remember when part of a group exhibition is that you’re never on your own. And as Heron-Kirkmoe said, “aim for the stars, but have one foot on the ground as well.” And most of all, just enjoy the ride.

So where next for these artists?

Mahoney-Longford was considering getting involved with SALA, however her primary focus at the moment is to work on her commissions and her personal projects.

Heron-Kirkmoe is currently back in “making-mode” ahead of a coming exhibition at the Fleurieu Art House in August.

Paulmitan is currently considering further study and, artistically, she intends to pursue her photography rather than painting. In June, her work will be on display at the Youth Scape Exhibition.

Nichols will be exhibiting at the Goodwood Library as a part of ‘SALA Goodwood Road’ and is busily making for another group exhibition coming up in October at the Fleurieu Arthouse.

Freeman is currently creating works for exhibition in SALA.

Forster arrived at the gallery fresh from her studio and paint splattered, so it’s safe to say she’ll be continuing with her art with two SALA exhibitions and an exhibition in Melbourne on the horizon.

I didn’t get a chance to speak with Podzuweit, Todino, or Kukolj to discover their plans, but I am certain that we will continue to see their names and works around Adelaide in the future.


Photography by Nica Kukolji

Words by Kayla Gaskell