Three years after Hamish Ta-mé set up Ten Thousand Paces gallery, he is putting the project on the market.
The internationally renowned fashion photographer established the creative hub in 2014 with 24 regional artists.
He wanted to create an art space that neatly slotted in to “everyday life”.
So he chose to place the gallery in Springetts Arcade, where it sits “literally alongside a butcher and a baker”.
“I wanted people to see art as part of everyday life. Not as some weird cultural experience in a back lane,” he said.
One year into the project, he decided to add wine.
“I knew that there would be a honeymoon period for the art and that I had to be pragmatic,” he said.
“So I thought regional artisanal wines would be a great compliment to the art.”
But Ta-mé admitted that he had “no idea” how complicated it would be to secure a full bottle-shop licence.
“It was just paper-work for five months,” he said.
“Sometimes it helps to be naive. If I fully knew what it would take, I might not have done it.”
The space now features wine from almost every winery in the Southern Highlands region.
But Ta-mé is now looking for “someone to carry on the dream”.
And he wants the unique business model – local art alongside local wine – to stay.
“I was chatting to a business mate of mine and he reckons there are five stages to a business,” he said.
“The first one is the startup that you put all your money and enthusiasm into, the next stage is the loss and the third stage is making a profit and expanding – that’s where we’re at now.”
“We don’t lose any money, but we don’t really make any either.”
But the photographer, who wants the freedom to branch out without being tied to a seven-day-a-week business, is willing to wait until he finds the right people to take over, whenever that may be.
“I have this idea of a young retired couple who love food, wine and art,” he said.
“The vague plan is to just wait. The worst case scenario will be closing this space down and moving it all online.”
“I love this business. It’s such a unique thing and it’s needed in this region,” he said.