Blog – Spaces
1 October 2018
Have you heard of the MPavilion and all of its great free activities?
Melbourne is an active city with so many artistic offerings that people (including those in the creative world) are not always aware of what's happening in their cultural backyard. I was chatting to a few people this week about the launch of the MPavilion's 2018 program and many did not know what MPavilion was.
The first MPavilion was launched in 2014 and supported by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation – 2018 will be its fifth year. MPavilion is an architectural commissioned space situated across the road from the National Gallery of Victoria in the Queen Victoria Gardens. The 2018 MPavilion is designed by Barcelona-based architect and educator Carme Pinós of Estudio Carme Pinós. She is celebrated internationally for her interest in urban livability and inclusivity, as well as experimentation and poetic, experiential design.
A hub for innovative cultural activities for the community to engage in, the MPavilion will be opened every day from 9 October 2018 to 3 February 2019. All programs are free! Talks, workshops, meet and greets and music. It is a platform for creative thinkers and makers to share, create and explore together.
Go and enjoy!
9 October 2018 to 3 February 2019
Daily, 9am to 4pm (earlier/later for scheduled events)
Closed on 25 and 26 December, and 1 January
Close at 2pm on 31 December
25 June 2018
Teshima Art Museum: a sublime spiritual immersion
I was fortunate to have no time restriction, as each island requires at least one day to explore and move from one art space or installation to the other.
Naoshima is the most frequented by travellers and is slightly easier to navigate. Teshima was my personal favourite, but a good level of fitness and navigational skills are required as there is a lack of signage.
Yayoi Kusama's "pumpkin" installation on Naoshima
Transport is by foot or bicycle up the mountain or a very slow bus in which you need to wait a while.
Accommodation is available on the islands and, if staying in Naoshima, Benesse House would have to be the pick.
No photography is permitted in any of the museums or art spaces. It was so refreshing to have people connect to the work rather than their electronic devices connect to it.
On Teshima, the Art Museum was a sublime spiritual immersion into a white cave. The curved walls and opened ceiling created an experience like no other. It has to be experienced to be fully realised. Even if one could take interior photographs the images would not do the building justice.
Lee Ufan Museum: contemplation and meditation
Naoshima was home to several large "pumpkin" installations by Yayoi Kusama and to the Benesse House Museum. An architectural highlight was the Lee Ufan Museum, a collaboration between internationally acclaimed artist Lee Ufan and architect Tadao Ando.
Surrounded by hills, the museum delivered a space for stillness, contemplation and meditation whilst surrounded by the beauty of the natural environment.
If you are looking for an art destination, the Setouchi Triennale will take place on the islands in 2019 and is worth attending!
23 March 2018
Besides Myself (2017) by artist James Turrell
The wing houses four new works by James Turrell, installations by Richard Wilson, Randy Polumbo, Charles Ross and Jean Tinguely, plus a new tapas bar named Faro, with fabulous views.
After a world tour, Richard Wilson's work 20:50 (1987), which was acquired from London's Saatchi Gallery in 2015, has landed at MONA. 20:50 is an installation consisting of two steel triangles in a small room filled to waist-height with recycled engine oil. It's tempting to touch, it looks like black glass (but it is not) and there is a faint but distinctive smell of oil. It's an optical illusion, magical and beautiful. Only two people are permitted into the room at a time – and it is worth the wait.
However, it is James Turrell's work that takes the prize for the best optical experience. Besides Myself (2017) is a breathtaking tunnel of light that guides you into Pharos. The light is enchanting, optical and continuous.
Grotto (2017) by artist Randy Polumbo
You need to book for The Perceptual Cell and you need to sign many waivers before you enter. This is an intense experience.
Grotto (2017) by Randy Polumbo looks like a chill-out room at a club and it is the ultimate room to take a selfie!
Pharos cost $32 millions, $8 million of which on acquisitions.
Once you have absorbed the new artworks, lunch is a must and a perfect way to spend a late afternoon at MONA.
20 November 2017
The 57th Venice Biennale had Viva Art Viva as the theme and was curated by Christine Macel (Chief Curator at the Musée National d'Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France). She was the fourth woman in 122 years of the Biennale history to curate the former Venetian military dockyard – the Arsenale.
I have been fortunate to see many Venice Biennales (and this was the fourth with walk-to-art) and must admit that the 2017 edition was a little underwhelming. Of course, there are always outstanding national pavilions, but the Arsenale was a touch on the bland side compared to previous years.
I do not normally engage with performance art, but this exhibition was just wonderful. The dedication to the performance, the determination and the discipline were incredible. Doing Time exhibited two of Hsieh's One Year Performances together for the first time, assembling his accumulated records and artefacts into detailed installations. In One Year Performance 1980–1981 (Time Clock Piece), Hsieh subjected himself to the extreme discipline of clocking on to a worker's time clock on the hour, every hour, for a whole year. In One Year Performance 1981–1982 (Outdoor Piece), Hsieh inhabited a further sustained deprivation: he remained outside for a year without taking any shelter. During the course of his One Year Performances Hsieh was an illegal immigrant.
Andorra Pavilion – Murmuri
Artist: Eve Ariza
Curators: Javier Balmaseda, Ivan Sansa, Paolo De Grandis
It is such a pleasure to walk into a space and breath a wow!
Walking into the Andorra Pavilion was like suddenly being wrapped by tonal beauty. The 9,000 clay bowls attached to the dark grey walls in different tones echoed a sound of unity and togetherness. "Channeling the tradition of clay art, Andorran artist Eve Ariza worked on the multiplication of the bowl as a container of truth and placidity. The ceramic bowl appears as the first form modeled by man with an intention. She purposely tears its base to reveal a mouth-like shape, thus transforming its essence and leaving aside its conventional use."
Amazing to have gone back numerous times and seen the New Zealand Pavilion holding such a large crowd consistently. In a great position at the end of the Arsenale, Lisa Reihana produced an outstanding video work that was technically faultless and captivating.
"In Lisa Reihana: Emissaries, imperialism's gaze is returned with a speculative twist that disrupts notions of beauty, authenticity, history and myth. in Pursuit of Venus [infected], which was the artwork in which Emissaries was based on, is a cinematic re-imagining of the French scenic wallpaper Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique, 1804–1805, also known as Captain Cook's voyages. Two hundred years later – and almost 250 years after the original voyages that inspired them – Reihana employs 21st century digital technologies to recast and reconsider the wallpaper from a Pacific perspective."
I feel the need to include Damien Hirst's Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable at Palazzo Grassi and Punta Della Dogna, both owned by French entrepreneur François Pinault. He also owns one of the largest collections of contemporary art in the world and in 2006 obtained ownership of Palazzo Grassi to display the collection. Damien Hirst is part of it, and the event marked his return after a 10-year hiatus from making art. It was over the top, extravagant, egotistical and an expensive exercise!
19 September 2017
David LaChapelle's La Pieta with Courtney Love
This past weekend I took the train to Ballarat, in regional Victoria, on the last day of the 2017 Ballarat International Foto Biennale, to see its highlight – David LaChapelle's exhibition. How wonderful to have such a great international photographer at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
As photography is becoming less and less celebrated in Australia, I believe it is important that these artistic programs are supported and visited.
Not only does it bring visitation to the regional towns, but it delivers great artists to areas which are deserving of excellent exhibitions.
It is the first time David LaChapelle has shown in Australia. He is an American artist/photographer known for his hyper-realistic, theatrical imagery in which he communicates social messages. LaChapelle began his career in the 1980s and was given his first job as a photographer for Interview magazine by Andy Warhol.
Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen's Eyes as Big as Plates
LaChapelle's work is a statement about consumerism, pop culture and fame. Photographing Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Angelina Jolie to Hillary Clinton, his work has graced the covers of many international magazines such as Italian Vogue, French Vogue and Vanity Fair, and he was the last person to take a portrait of Warhol before he died in 1987.
Other highlights were works by Jannatul Mawa from Nepal and a body of work (paste-ups) by Karoline Hjorth + Riitta Ikonen from Norway and Finland. The series Eyes as Big as Plates is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the Nordic duo, with their work evolving over the years into a continual search for modern human being's affinity to nature.
16 May 2017
Ross Coulter: Audience
Having photography as my professional background, the photographic image is a passion for me.
In the world of digital photography, phone images and Instagram, I see photography as a different medium.
The Festival of Photography, currently on at NGV International and NGV Australia, Federation Square, is a celebration of the "old school" photography, with five artists having solo exhibitions:
- William Eggleston Portraits – NGV International, until 18 June
- Bill Henson – NGV International, until 27 August
- Ross Coulter: Audience – NGV International, until 16 July
- Zoë Croggon: Tenebrae – NGV International, until 30 July
- Patrick Pound: The Great Exhibition – NGV Australia, Federation Square, until 30 July
The festival celebrates artists who are at different levels in their careers and presents photography in different ways – from the portrait to collage, to performance, to the collection of the photograph.
Ross Coulter: Audience
I was fortunate to participate in Ross Coulter's exhibition Audience (2013–2016).
Audience is a photographic series that documented members of the local art community in empty galleries and museums. The invited members were instructed to imagine viewing a performance art event. To shoot in an empty space takes organisation and time, as it is not often a gallery is empty even once an exhibition has come to a close. The next exhibition is rolling in and work is being wrapped to go to a new home.
It was a pleasure to be part of Ross's exhibition and three-year project.
Festival of Photography (free entry)
Daily, 10am to 5pm
180 St Kilda Road
Daily, 10am to 5pm
31 March 2017
digital type C photograph
Sacred Heart Girls' College, Oakleigh
This week in Melbourne was all about school groups, with year 9 students flooding the CBD as part of the City Week program. walk-to-art was in the action taking lovely girls from Sienna College on tour.
It is so much fun having a banter and sharing knowledge with students who are excited to discover, share and learn. It is always refreshing to have the insights and honesty of the youth, and it is also a challenge to have them stop, look and participate before their smart phone appears!
I am passionate about educating the wider audience and making art accessible to all, regardless of age and knowledge.
Speaking of students, Top Arts 2017 is now open at the National Gallery of Victoria Australia (Federation Square). This exhibition presents exceptional work from students who have completed Art or Studio Arts as part of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE).
Collins St 1960 (2016)
brush and ink and watercolour
44.7 x 52.1 cm (framed)
Overnewton Anglican Community College, Keilor
This is a great opportunity for these young emerging artists (including two highlights featured in this post) to exhibit at the NGV and have a large and varied audience view their works.
What a way to start of your artistic career!
Top Arts 2017
Ground level, NGV Design Studio
Until 16 July
Daily, 10am to 5pm
27 January 2017
I often have lovely, creative people from overseas staying with me and it's always a great excuse to head out of town for the weekend.
Last Sunday was a perfect day to drive to Tarrawarra Museum of Art in Healesville to view the exhibition "The Sculpture of Bronwyn Oliver", curated by Julie Ewington.
Bronwyn Oliver (1959–2006) was one of the most significant Australian sculptors. This exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of 50 key works, from the mid-1980s to the final solo exhibition in 2006.
It is often said that artists need to be in their own bubble to create such intense, delicate and beautiful works. Those who have worked with me often laugh at my continual use of the term "layers" – I search for technique, concept, beauty and elegant detail. Bronwyn Oliver's sculptures hold all of those layers; her work is visual poetry.
Oliver's distinctive organic metal sculptures, often inspired by nature, are intricate designs of transparent copper webbing. They are fluid, yet not innocent rendering the unforeseen forces of nature.
Her most famous works include "Magnolia" and "Palm", both of which sit in the Botanic Gardens in Sydney and Vine, which was commissioned by The Hilton Hotel in Sydney. It is among the longest sculptures in the country and the largest work that Oliver created at 16.5m long.
"When the ideas, the formal elements and the medium all work together, a sculpture will 'sing' with a kind of rightness. It takes on a life, a presence, which is removed from this world. It belongs to a mythical other life... This rightness isn't perfection. The sculpture might be a little sinister, or perhaps playful, or tense. Myths contain all kinds of variations in their pantheon." Bronwyn Oliver
Bronwyn sadly took her own life at the age of 47 just before her 11th solo exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery in Sydney. Oliver was an intensely private person with a strict work ethic broken only for exercise and meals. Oliver never wore gloves, protective clothing or glasses. Even though she had suffered depression for most of her life, after her death naturopaths felt Bronwyn was very ill from copper toxicity. Oliver's hair contained eight times the normal/healthy levels of copper, and toxic levels of tin, nickel, iron, cobalt and chromium.
"The Sculpture of Bronwyn Oliver", curated by Julie Ewington, is on until the 5 February 2017.
10 October 2016
I have just completed another fabulous walk-to-art New York tour and, as always, I was so fortunate to have open, passionate and grounded participants.
New York City has incredible energy and every time I visit this city I am injected with a "buzz". As you would expect many "research" nights were taken up with new food discoveries and openings.
As usual I stayed in Greenpoint and loved every minute. I was lucky to meet a very friendly man on the plane who also lived in Greenpoint. He shared his favourite newbies with me, and these also became my new favourite go-to places:
- Littleneck Outpost (excellent coffee and avocado on toast)
- Achilles Heel (a great bar and eatery... very friendly bar staff)
- Glasserie (Middle Eastern)
- Ramona (cocktails).
What goes on tour stays on tour. However, here are a few highlights of my time in New York City:
- Richard Serra's 30th major exhibition at Gagosian since 1983, Above Below Betwixt Between, Every Which Way, Silence (For John Cage), Through
- running/walking the Williamsburg Bridge
- The NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1
- Tenement Museum (I don't take tours, but this is a tour you should take)
- The Laundrymat Project ("We envision a world in which artists are understood as valuable assets in every community and everyday people know the power of their own creative capacity to transform their lives, their relationships, and their surroundings")
- Russ & Daughters (the best salmon in NYC)
- Gibney Dance Company (fostering contemporary dance)
- Brooklyn Academy of Music (something for everyone).
I am always proud to deliver a cultural experience that is unique and many steps away from the tourist trail.
Thank you to all who came on tour. You booked without knowing the itinerary and you all participated with enthusiasm, openness and trust everyday.
Until next time!
12 June 2016
Ten years ago I was in New York starting a key chapter in my life. walk-to-art began on my return to Melbourne in 2006, and there have been many influential people along the way. One of them was my dear friend Belinda, who has been there from the start. This week I have handed over my "guide hat" and have been expertly hosted around the busy, foggy, full city of Shanghai, in China, by her.
- walked through the leafy, green surrounds of the French Concession
- ridden bikes through the back streets at night after too many cocktails
- visited the laneway shops
- been "destroyed" by Chinese masseuses
- sorted through fabrics at the Fabric Market
- learnt the art of Chinese cooking
- eaten at wonderful bakeries
- been to secret bars with secret doors and secret codes
- eaten lunch and dinner at outstanding restaurants on The Bund
- discovered great coffee, quaint cafes
- watched the people dance, sing, exercise and walk their birds in the local parks...
These are my favourite places in Shanghai:
- Farine – Coffee and fresh baked goods
- Baker & Spice – Coffee, breakfast, lunch and baked delights
- Green & Safe – Lunch, groceries, organic
- Egg – Wonderful all day b'fast
- M On The Bund – Lovely lunch on The Bund
- Speak Low – Secret bar
When left to my own devices, I followed my bible, Luxe City Guide app, and discovered the art of this big city:
- Street art – Writing poetry with water in the park
- Pearl Lam Galleries
- M50 Creative Space
- Yuz Museum
- Long Museum (West Bund)
- Rockbund Art Museum.
Thank you – As walk-to-art is turning 10, a big thank you to Belinda, Philip, Greg, Angela, Cathy, Maria, Anne-Marie and Charles. You have all been there from the start and are still here now.
Thank you to everyone else who have continued to spread the word on walk-to-art. To those who have been on numerous Melbourne, New York and Venice tours. I have learnt, discovered, laughed and cried with many of you over the years.
walk-to-art has not only been about art; it has been a celebration of all the things that I love: art, design, walking, food, coffee, wine, cheese, pop ups, laneways and people.
26 April 2016
I am a city girl, but lately I have been enjoying the peace and fresh air of the country.
Recently I visited Kyneton, in Victoria, approximately 85km from Melbourne and an easy 1-hour drive on the freeway. My reason to visit was to support my very good friend Greg Wood and his new exhibition, "Slow Release", currently at Stockroom.
Greg Wood, who was featured on walk-to-art's blog in 2009 (Greg Wood: the second exhibition of a fabulous artist), studied Fine Arts at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) in Hobart. Wood has been exhibiting for over 20 years and is a passionate painter with a deep understanding of the Tasmanian and Victorian landscapes. His paintings ask the viewer to look beyond the literal and enter a sublime world of luminous beauty. Wood has been shortlisted in the Glover Prize and the Fleurieu Art Prize, two prestigious landscape prizes.
Stockroom is an exciting rural arts hub located in Kyneton's thriving style precinct on Piper Street. Piper Street seems to be the place to be, offering great local pubs and cafes. My friend and I both agreed that we could easily move to this exciting country town.
Stockroom is an ambitious and unique space that includes a large, split level retail shop showcasing contemporary artists, makers and designers who create a range of products, including jewellery, ceramics, homewares, furniture and fashion.
It also includes two gallery spaces with a bi-monthly exhibition program. Stockroom directors Magali Gentric and Jason Waterhouse are passionate about creating a vibrant arts hub, which provides a forum for artists of all disciplines.
Greg's beautiful, elusive landscapes are on exhibition till 1 May.
"Slivers of land are represented beneath heavy skies that threaten to consume the ground below. At first glance, the works could be mistaken for abstract, but the viewer is greatly rewarded by allowing the time to let the scene unfold."
22 March 2016
I was fortunate to visit the 20th Biennale of Sydney in its opening week. "The Future is Already Here – It's Just Not Evenly Distributed" opened on 18 March and can be seen until 5 June.
I was in great company, with a talented artist and friend, and we ran around to all the venues before the crowds rolled in. There are 8 different locations or "embassies" to be visited:
- Cockatoo Island
- MCA Australia
- Art Gallery of NSW
- Mortuary Station
- In-Between spaces
- Mobile Book Store
Here are my rules to navigate a biennale:
- Research is important.
- Try not too do too much in one day.
- Be realistic about how much you can and want to see.
- Make sure that the person who holds the map is in control (in our case we took it in turns).
- Include, of course, the all important debrief at the end of the day over a glass of wine or two (check my favourite stops in Sydney)!
Highlights – The highlights, in my opinion, were mainly located at Cockatoo Island – it was fun to wander and explore the desolated industrial space. To get there, take the Harbour City Ferries that operate regular services from Circular Quay.
I loved the work by William Forsythe, who was born in New York and now lives in Germany. William Forsythe is considered one of the world's foremost choreographers. Nowhere and everywhere at the same time (2015) allows the participant to glide between the moving pendulums. You become the dancer, the choreographer and the art. This work is beautiful, silent and elegant. It is also fun!
For those who did not make it to the Japanese Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, a new artwork by outstanding artist Chiharu Shiota is on exhibit at Cockatoo Island. Chiharu Shiota creates intimate and intricate webs comprised of metres of black thread. Another beautiful work by another Japanese artist, Taro Shinoda, is at the Art Gallery of NSW. Abstraction of Confusion (2016; pictured) is an incredible installation that fills an entire room creates a meditative silence as if you were in nature. Sitting on the tatami mats allow you to disappear into the hand-built cracked clay walls and sunken floors.
Also on the menu – As you all know, food, coffee and wine stops are very important to me. A friend whom I met up with suggested two new places in Sydney... they were both great, even hard to find!
- Reuben Hills, Surry Hills (coffee, breakfast, fabulous banana bread with caramel salted butter – ouch! Be careful not to fall in love)
- RELISH FOOD CO, Surry Hills (lunch, salads, coffee, a perfect pit stop after walking all day)
- Ghostboy Cantina (pictured), Dixon House, Haymarket (tacos, fun food hall, cheap wine, great find, brings me back to Hong Kong days)
- Baxter Inn (hidden bar, find the lane, find the red rope, walk down the dark stairs to the very American whiskey bar; loose a few hours underground)
- Sagra Restaurant (perfect Italian, to take the perfect person, in a small house in Darlinghurst).
16 January 2016
In need of a short break... head to MONA for a little bit of art, food and wine action.
MONA is short for Museum of Old and New Art. Founder David Walsh is responsible for putting Hobart (Tasmania) on the international art map, luring almost 2 million visitors from around the world since it was opened, in 2011. Two years later Lonely Planet declared Hobart one of the top 10 destinations (because of MONA), so if you haven't been there yet you really should go.
Love or hate the "art wank" or the collection that tends to lean to the darker side of life; death, sex and destruction, it still holds the wow factor. MONA is a like a bat cave and at times the building takes over the art. Actually the building is the pull for me.
Big named exhibitions, such as Gilbert and George (until 28 March 2016), bring in income that is needed to keep the doors open. MONA leaks money, losing A$8 million or more a year and is supported by David Walsh's gambling interests.
Recently a friend and I stayed in The Brett pavilion, one of eight pavilions on site. Luxurious accommodation with a "wow" view over the Derwent River, high tech with wireless touch panels (which I must confess took us a while to get our heads around!). Upstairs and downstairs well equipped with heated floors in the bathrooms, books, wine and Aesop products.
We lost time in the infinity pool, drank the bubbles kindly gifted and experienced the calming work of James Turrell at night (don't forget to bring a jumper as it gets chilly).
Here are my best tips: