Inside Mona Museum’s new in-house recording studio

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Inside Mona Museum’s new in-house recording studio

Frying Pan Studios Mona
Words by mixdown staff
Photos Mona/Jesse Hunniford

The Tassie modern art institution has become the only museum in Australia to house a recording studio - Frying Pan.

What you need to know:

  • Tasmania’s Mona Museum has opened a state of the art recording studio.
  • The project is led by producer, sound engineer and studio designer Chris Townend.
  • The studio’s centrepiece is the historic REDD.17 console, which lived at Abbey Road Studios.

Open now, Mona’s Frying Pan features a legendary mixing desk, a phenomenal array of equipment and a creative environment like no other. The space will welcome artists from lutruwita / Tasmania, Australia and all over the world.

Keep up to date with the latest music industry news here.

Named Frying Pan for its location, opposite a striking view of Frying Pan Island, the studio is led by producer, studio designer and sound engineer Chris Townend, who brings unmatched expertise to the role with over 30 years experience working alongside musical greats such as Portishead, D12, Silverchair, Violent Femmes, Sunn O, Daniel Johns, Augie March, Tim Finn and Oren Ambarchi, as well as running one of Australia’s most loved recording studios—Big Jesus Burger (BJB), under his belt. 

The studio’s centrepiece is the historic REDD.17 console, which lived at Abbey Road Studios, London, from 1958 to 1980. The vintage desk was acquired in 2014 by David Roper (of Crumpler fame) who, along with audio product designer Lukas Glickman, conceived the studio idea and developed it further with Brian Ritchie, Artistic Director of Mona Foma and Music at Mona.

When Ritchie pitched it to Mona founder David Walsh, David agreed to build this brand new working recording studio in the heart of the museum. Built on Walsh’s long-standing fascination with the creative process, Frying Pan is a living and breathing space to make art—surrounded by art—in real time.

“It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to design a fully functioning recording studio inside a museum. Mona is an artistic cave of wonders, with music such an integral part of the experience—from city-wide festivals to intimate gallery gigs,” Townend said of the project.

“Frying Pan artists will benefit immensely from the surrounding inspiration, ridiculous location and abundance of equipment, both historic and hi-tech.”

Frying Pan is located close to Mona’s library, and is accessible via one of the museum’s many subterranean tunnels. The waterfront space is filled with natural light, and also features a large viewing window, so that visitors can witness the music-making in action.

David Walsh, Mona owner and founder, describes Frying Pan as “the essence of Mona Museum.” 

“The major product will be music, of course, but made in an environment redolent of passion and daring. There will be many failures and some triumphs. Because we value risk, and humanity, and the glorious desperation of creativity, we will be proud of the work of Frying Pan’s denizens, however it is received.”

Find out more about Frying Pan Studios here.