Chris Loutfy

Text: Joseph Earp

Time is getting away from us all, but it’s rare to meet someone as monumentally pained by the speed of life as Chris Loutfy. You can sense it when you’re around him – he just seems tense, his whole body primed like a horse at a starting gate, and though he is unfailingly polite and friendly, spend any time in his company and you’ll find that it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re keeping him from something. Which, to be honest, you probably are.

Chris Loufty at Goodspace. Photography by Dakota Gordon / @dk.gordon

“Goodspace is the gallery showing I organise every week, and then I run Ha-ven, which is more artist management stuff,” Loutfy says, flicking a plastic toy back and forth between his fingers. “Then I do mural projects for different companies, I do interior design fit-out stuff, I manage artwork commissions for artists, and I do council tenders. Then I have my photography, which is something that I do totally separate to all that – it’s mostly fashion stuff.” A smile lifts up the corner of his lips. “Yeah, I guess that’s about it.”

The kaleidoscope of activity is impressive, with Goodspace and Ha-ven forming the core of Loutfy’s creative empire. Ha-ven functions as an artist agency come collective, with an emphasis on what Loutfy describes as “meticulously creating physical work”. A manifesto of sorts speaks of how the artists “thrive in opposition to the quick fix. Taking time to create things by hand, from scratch. Considering every brush stroke, every line, every frame, to create the best outcome.”

Most days of the week you can find Loutfy in a little office just to the right of the door that leads into Goodspace, the independently run gallery he established a few years ago. In addition to being a venue in which emerging artists can develop and shine, Goodscape is also an integral element of the local community – tucked away above The Lord Gladstone hotel, it is something of a Chippendale staple; part, so to speak, of the scenery.


“I’ve always been interested in art,” Loutfy says. “A big part of how [I run Goodspace] now is making sure that I am available for all my artists and that I can get everything done how they want it as quickly as I can… I feel like Sydney’s kind of moved to this weird, like – everything’s big! People need to support smaller stuff and do more small things.” He sees Goodspace as not only a bridge, but an antidote to this ‘big is better’ obsession: “When you’re doing all these big festival things and supporting all the really large institutions, you just create a bigger divide.”

While Goodspace itself is fastidiously arranged and maintained, Loutfy’s office is something else entirely. There is debris littering every surface – some of it obviously art, the rest of it less so. A neat line of neon-coloured kewpie dolls stand on the edge of a folder-littered shelf, staring over the edge as if summoning the energy to hurl themselves off it. A small rubber head glares at Loutfy from a spot by his keyboard, which is itself coated in a thin layer of faded, mostly scratched off stickers. There are art prints everywhere; some of them framed, others curled up on the floor like dried leaves. Over in the corner, a muted TV is playing the rugby.

Loutfy trained as a graphic designer, but he doesn’t do much of that these days. “I kind of got a bit burnt out on it,” he says. “It wasn’t super satisfying. I like to have longterm projects, whereas design was pretty churn and burn – particularly if you’re working for bigger companies. I think the majority of graphic design is just doing bulk work, which doesn’t interest me.”

The little toy Loutfy has been playing with gets put down on the desk, but it doesn’t mean he stops moving. He runs his hands up and down his track pants; leans backwards and forwards on his swivel chair; picks up and then puts down his phone. “I think I’ve got ADD,” he says a little later. “Or, I mean, I did get diagnosed with it when I was a kid, but I’m not sure. I just can’t really sit still, or not be doing a million things or thinking about a million things. I get kind of itchy when I go on holiday.”

A couple of young men dressed in black walk past the door to Loutfy’s office and into Goodspace, carrying something between them. Loutfy whips his head around to watch them, and it’s like he has to actively will himself to stay in his seat. “They’re loading something in,” Loutfy says by way of explanation.

But surely there’s a limit. Surely Loutfy couldn’t work six or seven days a week and still love it all as much as he does now? He doesn’t have to think for very long before he shoots back his answer. “I definitely could,” he says, eyes flashing. “If I didn’t have a girlfriend, or a life, I could definitely do it.” When I thank Loutfy and leave a little while later, I’m not even out the door before I hear the sound of his fingers flying across the keyboard, busily getting to work on the next daily task he has saved to a list he updates on his phone. There’s a lot of lost time he has to make up for, after all.

Goodspace showcases a new exhibition every Wednesday night on Level 1 of The Lord Gladstone Hotel, 15-119 Regent St, Chippendale. Phone 02.93101483. Email


Sign up to our newsletter, Word on the Street, for your weekly dose of news, features, and culture direct from your neighbourhood.

* Mandatory Privacy Policy