The leafy streets off High Street Northcote are hiding a secret. Follow the sweet smell of wood dust up a long driveway and you will arrive at an old body repairs workshop, now home to Pop & Scott, the workshop collective. Pop & Scott is a temporary home for dozens of artists and artisans in residence. Co-founded by Poppy Lane and her partner Scott Gibson, it will celebrate its third birthday next year.
When I arrive, co-founder Poppy is overlooking volunteers landscaping the driveway, whilst her year old daughter Frieda helps by running around with fistfuls of dirt. The workshop is getting a makeover ahead of the new on site retail space, which is scheduled to open in early March next year.
Inside the light filled workshop however, it is business as usual. In one corner, Poppy has a table stacked high with greenery and native flowers for a wreath making class she will be holding this evening.
Poppy is a florist by trade, although since her painted pots achieved a kind of cult status is Melbourne and the birth of her daughter Frieda, she has cut down on her floristry work. The rest of the main floor is given over to what the workshop was originally intended for; woodworking.
Poppy explains how Pop & Scott got started, “Originally Scotty and I were building furniture together at home. When we got back from a trip to Mexico, we just couldn’t really find stuff that we liked. So we would just make it ourselves which was quite interesting.
“The first table we made took us forever and was a massive learning curve.”
From there the idea grew as Poppy and Scott, a plumber, became very involved in the project. “We bought a whole lot of wood working machinery out of the airport, and then we just needed a space for it, and we ended up getting [our workshop].
“The original idea behind this was to have the machinery available to other small businesses, [who like us], were doing it from home”.
This concept attracted furniture makers such as Chris Booth of 2nd Chance Tables, Sime Nugent of Sime Nugent Furniture, Leah Hudson Smith of Pono Furniture, Vincent Conboy of Cenzo Design who builds furniture with Scott, and Steve Clark of Den Holm.
The workshop collective gives the impression of a family more than an artistic community. Poppy laughs when I comment on Frieda’s presence, saying ‘yeah, it’s pretty dangerous, but it’s fun at the same time. There’s lots of kids in here, like Andy [Murphy] and Bianca [Vallentine] have a little daughter as well; she’s in and out all the time”.
The presence of other artists and artisans like illustrator Murphy and designer Vallentine in small studios off the main workshop floor are another product of Poppy and Scott’s spontaneity.
Poppy describes it as, “A couple of artist friends that wanted some space, and from there (it) just organically grew again, so it wasn’t really much of a conscious decision”.
This sub-conscious decision has led to the current residence of photographer Bobby Morssion, designer Camille Moir-Smith, ceramicist Bruce Rowe and instrument builder Lewis Waters.
Their presence helped draw out the collaborative aspect of the collective. Poppy explains, “Everyone is constantly influenced by each other”. Poppy says she is especially keen to see what the influence of a weaver might bring; “I would also love a weaver of some type that wove beautiful lights or some type of lighting but woven lights would be amazing”.
Pop & Scott shows no signs of slowing down, and after the opening of its retail store in the 2015 they also plan on opening a retail space in Sydney. But Poppy says, “As far as anything else we’re just sort of going with the flow and seeing what happens”.
Indeed, if “going with the flow” has got Pop & Scott this far, there is no telling how far or in which direction it has the potential to go.