Inside Subiaco’s Landmark Gallery, Linton & Kay

Linton & Kay has been a synonymous name in the Perth art world for decades and at their Subiaco gallery, the art on show is more vibrant than ever.

Gary Kay is not a qualified psychologist, counsellor or life coach. But in nurturing a huge stable of artists at Subiaco’s highly visible landmark gallery, Linton & Kay, he doesn’t need a list of fancy letters after his name.

Instead, he’s got a beautiful set of numbers – 92.9FM, 96FM and 94.5FM.

In guiding some of Australia’s most famous names in the art world through their often bumpy careers he draws on abundant life skills picked up during two decades of working in Perth media.

Back in 2001, when he joined forces with his business partner, Linton Partington, Kay was already a high profile personality in breakfast radio and a well known name in comedy through writing skits and performing for the legendary Civic Theatre restaurant, owned by his beloved late father and famous Perth entertainer, Max Kay.

As well he ran his own media company so he knows a thing or two about life, creativity and business. And Subiaco, which he loves with all his heart.

All of this – and a well-honed sense of humour – comes together in his role as co-director of the four Linton & Kay galleries he runs with Partington, in Subiaco, West Perth Mandoon Estate and Cherubino Wines in Wilyabrup.

“Yes, the artists do need a bit of hand holding sometimes,” he laughs. “We try to support our artists as much as we can. Some are more needy than others, particularly the young emerging artists. We have this philosophy that we will always help anyone who sends through their work to look at and we get a lot of portfolios sent to us for appraisal and guidance.”

Drivers in Subiaco don’t have to look far to see evidence in the handiwork of his charges.

They often do a double take along Railway Road, Subiaco, as they look through the windows of Linton & Kay which 21 years ago was a cluttered hardware store.

If drivers are lucky enough to get a red light they can linger longer to gaze in awe at splashes of colour by Andy Quilty,  Bernard Ollis, Celia Percival, Diana Watson, Douglas Kirsop, Bec Juniper, Jasper Knight and Johnny Romeo. There’s sculptures by Jon Denaro and ceramics by Pippin Drysdale.

Most recently they’ve been rewarded with stunning images of the Kimberley, painted by Kay’s popular and highly regarded brother-in-law, Brendon Darby, whose beautiful landscapes have been exhibited in London, Rome, Hong Kong, Austria and the USA. And don’t forget his magnificent still life at the entrance to Cherubino City Wine cellar. It’s worth a visit to Cherubino just for that.

His exhibition, which attracted some of Subiaco’s well-heeled and most avid art collectors on opening night, featured abstract impressions of the Kimberley coastline illustrating the artist’s take on millions of years of erosion on the rock formations.

And gallery staff have had little time to draw breath as the excitement reverberates with preparing for another cultural icon. Leon Pericles’ Taming a Tumultuous Palette runs from May 27 to June 19 showcasing new works which explore layers, colours and translucency. Fans of Pericles characteristic, delightfully wicked style will also view his newest etching called Seconds Before Goff & Sue’s Life Changed Forever and a limited edition print called The Spirits Within – a major commission for the lobby of the newly-renovated Parmelia Hilton.

Kay, a longtime friend of Pericles, couldn’t be more thrilled.

“We have been exhibiting him for many years,” he says. “He has been very successful all that time. We did a retrospective with him in Fridays studio in West Perth in 2018 which was the largest art retrospective in Western Australian history including more than 560 paintings, etchings, collagraphs and sculptures showing the exceptional range of his 50-year career.”

That retrospective coincided with the television documentary, Storm in a Teacup, which explored the Pericles family juggling work, life, love, loss and heartache as Pericles’ wife, Moira, dealt with Alzheimer’s. The story was told by their daughter, Nia, and Kay is quite emotional as he reveals that Moira, who handled the business side of Pericles’ work and was also his creative counsel, is now in full-time care.

“This exhibition will be especially poignant,” he says.

“Pericles is the most amazing man. He has an incredible mind and you can see that in his work. His paintings are wonderful, full of humour and his left-field perspective. His brain works at 100 miles an hour. Tim Minchin did a piece to camera in that doco which was very moving. When Tim and Leon get together the exchange of ideas is amazing. If Tim is in town I am sure he will drop into the exhibition.”

Kay says young, aspiring artists often pop in hoping to show their portfolios.

One of them, back in the day was Kate Elsey. She’s now based in Melbourne and is one of Linton & Kay’s top selling artists, known for her nature-inspired abstract expressionism.

“She came to us when she was in a wheel chair as she had lots of health issues,” says Kay. “She showed us her portfolio and we were blown away by her semi abstract landscapes. We have had seven sold out exhibitions in Perth and are looking forward to her next one in Subiaco in August.”

Kay says the younger artists often need a lot more guidance than the established ones.

“We will often meet with the younger ones and help them decide on subject matters that will be appeal to the market as well as satisfying their creative juices.”

And, there is also some nurturing for those on the other side of the creativity process – the buyers. If your constant refrain is “I don’t know much about art but I know what I like” Linton &Kay offer the following helping hand:

Home visits for people who are unsure of what to buy to fit into a space.

Installation of artwork. “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing artwork in situ,” says Kay. “The most common fault clients make is hanging a painting too high. And, with groups of paintings, hanging them at different heights.”

Lighting advice. “It’s amazing how much difference good lighting makes for an artwork,” he says.

And, perhaps, the most sage advice: “Buy a painting not because it will fit in with your colour scheme and décor, but because you love it,” says Kay. “If you do it the opposite way around you are just buying something to put on your wall and you have no emotional connection to it. We are not against colour coordination at all but it is easier and better to plan a colour scheme around a painting than to buy one that fits in with the colour scheme.”

Lastly, if you are looking for a screwdriver or putty, don’t go into Linton & Kay on the corner of Nicholson and Railway. “It’s amazing how many people still pop in and ask for hardware,” he laughs. We told you he had a sense of humour.

Article by Gail Williams.

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