In the Bag: Sarah Hopkinson and Georgia Currie

Words by Yu Mei
Photos by Nicole Brannen

Fashion Designer Georgia Currie and Gallerist Sarah Hopkinson

Fashion Designer Georgia Currie and Gallerist Sarah Hopkinson built an instant friendship since their first meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2011. Now, the duo have joined forces for a new venture, Salome, a bespoke Art Advisory based in Tāmaki Makaurau, where they offer their unique insights on the art of collecting. Read on to hear our conversation on ambition, business, fulfilment, and friendship through their collective lens.


Yu Mei: Tell us, what do you do and how did you get into it?

Georgia Currie: I guess my job is a fashion designer. I make clothes and I had a business, Georgia Alice, for nearly a decade. Now I am in the process of starting another fashion brand, Flowers, with different goals and dreams and expectations of myself. I am also starting an art advisory business with my delightful gallerist friend over here. And trying to keep my life feeling dynamic and interesting, inspired and honestly as authentic as it can be.

Sarah Hopkinson: I'm a gallerist and the director of Coastal Signs which is a gallery project in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. Previously, I was the director of Hopkinson Mossman, which was a commercial gallery that ran from 2010 to 2019. Now, I am also the co-director of Salome, a boutique art advisory, also based in Tāmaki Makaurau.

YM: What drives you, what is your purpose for doing what you do?

SH: Salome came about organically. Through Coastal Signs, I work with some excellent advisors based in LA and New York. It's been inspiring to see how they operate, but it also made me realise we have a yawning hole in the advisory space here in Aotearoa. We have some seasoned advisors working with established collectors, but not as much energy in and around a new generation of collectors and artists. When I aired this to Georgia over lunch one day, it turned out she was also being asked by her friends for advice on collecting.

GC: Salome’s mandate is simple—to introduce people to contemporary art and all the juicy critical thinking that entails. To help them make smarter, more informed and interesting choices.

YM: Has your career unfolded how you thought it would?

GC: Absolutely not. Both of us, when we were younger, were single-minded in our ambitions for our businesses and what success looks like.Now, we are much more fluid in our approach... and give a lot less of a fuck.

SH: Nowadays, I would describe my relationship to ‘success’ as ambivalent at best... I am definitely more fluid, but I think (I hope) I’m better at identifying when to go with the flow, and when I need to swim against the current.

YM: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?

SH: I would be living rurally, on some sort of regenerative farming project.

GC: I would be “helping” Sarah.


YM: You are thoroughly referenced and curious in your exploration of design, whether that’s how you dress or what you are curating within your fields. How would you describe your personal style approach?

GC: I know very clearly when I see something if I like or don’t like it. It’s easy and intuitive. For example, if I make something and the first toile comes back, I know if it needs a centimetre shaved off or a subtle collar re-shape. It’s the small details. So when I get dressed day to day, it's similar.

SH: I think the reason Georgia always looks so cool is because she somehow always manages to look both incredibly well put together and also like she doesn’t care.

GC: Which is exactly how I feel.

SH: There is a thing that Georgia and I do—we look for the grit in the oyster. We don't like things that are too pretty, too smooth or too elegant. Everything has to have a bit of an edge... A piercing, a perversity. I don't like things to be too straightforward, I want them to ask a question.

YM: What or who are you currently inspired by?

SH: When I began my life as a gallerist, there were several women who inspired me and I still follow many of those gallery programmes. Recently I find myself more inspired by people in other fields, and closer to home. Last year the most inspiring events I attended were the graduations of two friends from their respective Te Reo Māori and Kura Kaupapa degrees. I was in tears most of the time, for both intensely personal reasons and big cosmic reasons. You couldn’t stand in that room, with all that love and pride swirling around, and not feel that things are changing here, seismically. That was cool to witness.

GC: As you get older, you start to realise how much the people you keep close to you are the people that you love the most and, therefore, admire the most. They are your motivation and they impact your day-to-day so much because you're in frequent contact with them.

YM: Tell us about a special item or piece that you own. What is the story behind it?

GC: My Emma McIntyre painting. I loved it on sight—it’s lusty and sensual. It has her boob prints in it! I feel lucky that I met Sarah and other art-world friends when I was young. It influenced my taste and the way that I view art, and visual culture more broadly. I probably wouldn't have bought—or had the confidence to buy art without having spoken to Sarah.

SH: Georgia is being modest—she’s always had a great eye and a Midas touch! I’m going to talk about the painting that is behind me. It is a painting of a punk ear by Taylor Wagstaff, a young artist based here in Tāmaki Makaurau. He makes these warped photorealist paintings of specific images he finds on the internet—it’s fleshy and sensual, but also brainy work.

Gallerist Sarah Hopkinson


YM: What is in your bag? What are the go-tos that you are carrying?

GC: Cards! I like my cards. Lip balm. I don’t actually use lip balm, but there will be one in there. I have an Aesop hand cream in there at the moment, which I love.

YM: Which one?

GC: It’s the orange one. I also currently have the Dr Dennis Gross LED mask in my bag... I feel like I need to do it before we get our photo taken. Just zap my face a few times. And probably receipts that I collected. A pen. Some fabric swatches.

SH: I carry a small bag. I have the Ch’lita at the moment. In it are cards, and a phone... Right now there’s a paint sample which I’m taking to Resene because Georgia is moving into my studio and we’re going to paint the floors. Some beautiful socks that Emma McIntyre bought me in Paris... And a tape measure!

YM: Can we get an exclusive on what colour you’re going for?

SH: It’s a muted blue.

GC: A very light Tiffany blue.

YM: Would you consider yourselves organised people?

GC: We are both Virgos, so we would say yes, we are the most organised, efficient, and best people. In reality, nowadays, I think we are very organised with things that are important and we care about.

SH: Apparently, two Virgos only work if your pedantry is of a different nature.

GC: Sarah’s desk is the most beautiful. There’s nothing except lovely tea cups and nice coasters. It's clean and chic. And there are no cords. I don’t know where the cords are.

SH: Ha, Georgia is exaggerating, but I do like good quality tea and a nice cup to drink it out of. I woke up in the night thinking about this question. It’s not that I’m not proud of being a competent, efficient person (I am), it unsettles me because those are characteristics that are praised in women and are also somehow... limiting. So often I see women encouraged into support roles, managerial positions, caring... and it’s not that those aren’t super important and have their own power, but they aren’t valued in society in the same way as say, leadership roles. You can see the imbalance in creative sectors in particular, there is progress, sure, but there are still so many stories of women and women’s experiences that are excluded.

YM: You’re exactly right. No matter how things progress there's always more to do.

SH: Yeah, one of the questions that feminists used to ask each other to measure progress over generations was: “How is your life different from your mother's?” I think about that all the time.


YM: What do you do to unwind?

GC: A walk. Cooking, cups of tea, potions. Things like mushroom broth or a face mask... either for myself or my children. Ritual of care which can be completely ignored.

YM: We love the idea of a ritual.

GC: I never used to cook. My partner, Lewis, and I ate out every meal for probably our entire relationship before the birth of our son, Earl. Isn't that insane? Now it’s about making a curry, grinding cumin seeds. Making rice and adding star anise... or cloves and smelling the scents. I'm better at taking time to acknowledge myself as a living, breathing, human being as opposed to a machine for ticking things off my list. For a while, I ignored relationships.

SH: You felt you didn't have room in your life for them, at that time.

GC: I didn't prioritise girlfriends or genuine human friendship because I was so driven to achieve. It’s something that I have started to value with two small children under five. Now, there are a few key women in my life who are stimulating and wonderful to be around. Friendships are something that I prize and am very protective of.

SH: I don't have children so I try to make the most of the freedom that that gives me. I like to spend more time reading, I walk my dog Grant Fox, hang out, watch films. During lockdown I lived, for a time, like my Mum; a retired 70-year-old woman who spends a lot of time alone, gardening and cooking. I was so happy!

YM: Do you think seeing each other’s apparent bravery drew you together?

SH: Both Georgia and I had businesses, built in our formative years, that were bound up with our identities... and when that changed for both of us, radically, you have to go through this process of recomposing your life, and your sense of self. It’s freaky! I think it's quite rare to find someone who you already love and trust who has gone through a parallel experience...

GC: The best characters of all time are always people on the edge.

Fashion Designer Georgia Currie

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