Memories Of Landscape
R.M.Williams has joined with artist Mika Utzon Popov to bring the essence of
Australia to the company’s New York flagship store.
STORY by Terri Cowley
“This is a place where the power of country still rings true. It is a place where durability and adaptation form our way of life. It is a place where I feel connected to a bigger picture and draw inspiration from its scale.”
RM Williams might easily have uttered these words as he set about making his first pair of leather boots in the rugged Flinders Ranges of South Australia in the 1940s. In fact they were said by artist Mika Utzon Popov in the midst of creating a sculpture that will form the centerpiece for the New York flagship store of the R.M.Williams company to be unveiled on September 03, 2016.
R.M.Williams has collaborated with the artist to develop the retail space with a unique interior that reflects the brand’s heritage. “I am inspired by so many things, but light above all is what I see most,” Mika says. “Natural light moving across and through our world, creating spaces which inform our experience of place and time.” Mika has an interest in architecture with design concepts inspired by his grandfather Jorn Utzon, architect of the Sydney Opera House.
Mika’s designs reflect the natural environment, giving his creations a sense of place. Bringing the essence of the Australian landscape to New York, Mika has drawn inspiration from the natural light of the Australian outback to create an original sculpture reflecting an aerial view of the outback as the focal point of the store design. The store is a conceptual interpretation off the spaces in the heritage wool shed on the open plains of Australia.
Mika Utzon Popov was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1971 and moved to Australia in his early teens. After a mentorship with the painter Tim Storrier, he graduated from the National Art School, Sydney, in 1995. Apart from his famous grandfather, his parents are Danish artist-designer Lin Utzon and Australian architect Alexander Popov. He clearly has creativity in his genes.The New York installation has been created using hand tools in a tradition similar to that embodied by the craftsmen and women in the R.M.Williams workshop in Adelaide.
“My process starts with rough cutting the foam with a hand saw,” Mika says. “This is my way of narrowing in on the overall experience space.” He uses a hand-grater for rough detailing. “This small but effective instrument allows me to begin the process of shaping detail and narrative movement,” he says. “I use the hand drill to create effects of erosion in the deeper parts of the sculpture.” Finally the work is carefully sanded. “The sandpaper is where I finalise the surface detailing and texture prior to casting,” he says. “This process requires me to use dramatic side-light to gauge irregularities in the surface.” Finally, this handsculpted mold is cast by hand into concrete and the surface polished once installed. The finished artwork is titled Memories of Landscape. The R.M.Williams New York Store is at 152 Spring Street, Soho.
Photography Credit: Kirsten Utzon Popov