Blog – Artists

Getting away from Naarm / Melbourne to enjoy art and food in Sydney

artists, spaces

19 September 2022
Yellow Bedroom (2022), by artist Amber Wallis

Yellow Bedroom (2022), by Amber Wallis
oil on linen, 116 x 96 cm

I haven't been on a plane since COVID 2019, so when a friend told me she was working at Sydney Contemporary (8 to 11 September), I thought it was an excellent opportunity to leave Naarm / Melbourne for a few days.

I booked the quite hip Paramount House Hotel in Surry Hills and packed ever so lightly knowing that I did not want to wait hours for my luggage to arrive.

I was pleased to discover that A P House by All Purpose Bakery, offering delicate viennoiseries and good coffee, were now on the roof at Paramount House!

It feels like a lifetime ago since I have worked at an art fair or been a participant. My sister and her partner joined me at Carriageworks for the opening to wander through the crowds and the art on offer. As usual, there was a lot to take in and I must say I was a little underwhelmed.

Mothering Garden (2021), by artist Kathy Temin

Mothering Garden (2021), by Kathy Temin
Synthetic fur, synthetic filing (detail)

Many sections, many galleries and poor curation of the stands. I felt that it is always best to have a solo exhibition of one artist so that a viewer can see the depth of their practise rather than just having a token work which leaves you wanting more.

Melbourne's Nicholas Thompson Gallery always presents a considered stand, this year exhibiting a solo presentation of artist Amber Wallis.

Some of the installations placed around the fair were quite enjoyable. The most joyful and tactile was by Kathy Temin, Mothering Garden, 2021 presented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Paddington. The synthetic fur sculpture/installation of a non-functional playground was inviting, comforting and cuddly to say the least.

And the highlight for me was the work of Austrian artist Daniel Domig presented by Chalk Horse Gallery in Sydney. I really enjoyed the use of colour, the transparency on the canvas, the fluid movement of paint and the abstract composition.

Remind me of Matter (2022), by artist Daniel Domig

Remind me of Matter (2022), by Daniel Domig
Oil on linen (detail)

Dinner was at the lovely Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills and lunch the next day, after a wonderful trip to White Rabbit Gallery, was at Lucky Kwong, which was fabulous!

Apart from the plane being delayed when leaving and returning to Naarm / Melbourne, it was nice to get away.





Fresh energy and colour to Melbourne streets after lying dormant for 2 years

artists, spaces

30 May 2022
installation view of Leo by artist Sarah Crowest, Corrs Lane, Chinatown, Melbourne; photo courtesy of Flash Forward

Installation view of Leo by Sarah Crowest,
Corrs Lane, Chinatown, Melbourne.
Photo courtesy of Flash Forward

It has been a while between posts, but as we emerge (once again) I feel like we are finally on our way back to recovery after too many lockdowns and too many COVID restrictions.

It feels like a luxury to be able to visit an art space or go to an opening freely. I have loved seeing our Melbourne streets come alive with new artworks and murals.

Programs such as Flash Forward, presented by the City of Melbourne and Victorian Government, have activated over 40 of our hidden and historic laneways around Melbourne. This activation not only reignites the city, but also supports small businesses and sole traders, creating jobs for those in specialist areas. These programs are vital to giving fresh energy and colour to streets that lay dormant for the past two years.

Sarah Crowest's work – Close to the Edge, in Corrs Lane, Chinatown, and partnering work Leo – caught my eye. The face of Leo uses existing structures, vents, pipes, textures and concrete panelling to give a 3D form to the face. It's fun and colourful – a nice addition to the lane.

Photography – Another wonderful festival that has just taken place and continues in a select number of art spaces is PHOTO 2022, International Festival of Photography. The title of its 2022 edition is Being Human.

installation view of Surat, 2022 by artist Atong Aten

Installation view of Surat, 2022 by Atong Aten.
Photo courtesy of walk-to-art

Offering a diverse program of artists and spaces, including the use of many outdoor locations and precincts, the event featured 123 artists and photographers from Australia and around the world and an excellent program of free exhibitions, talks online and in person, tours, workshops and photo book launches.

You can still catch a few exhibitions:

Enjoy being out and about!


Venice Biennale's engaging art still worth the plane trip, tourists and pigeons

artists, Venice art tours

25 October 2019
Icelandic Pavilion, titled Chromo Sapiens and created by Shoplifter/Hrafnhildur Arnardottir

Icelandic Pavilion: totally immersive and dreamlike space

Visiting Venice is always magical... Despite the increased number of tourists, you can still find quiet places and lovely Venetians who are not too cynical about the city that they live in.

I have just returned from the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia or Venice Biennale, titled May You Live in Interesting Times, with walk to art Venice.

The event was curated this year by American born Ralf Rudoff, who selected 79 artists to exhibit two works each – one in the Arsenale and the other in the Giardini. There were also 89 National Pavilions, 29 of those were in the Giardini and the others were scattered throughout Venice.

This was the first time that I enjoyed the Arsenale over the Giardini. The plywood structures used to divide the long building created a sense of warmth and a clear path for viewers.

As for the National Pavilions, the standouts were the Lithuanian Pavilion, winner of the Golden Lion, and the Icelandic Pavilion on Giudecca.

The Icelandic Pavilion (photo above), titled Chromo Sapiens and created by Shoplifter/Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, was an immersive cavernous environment of synthetic hair covering the walls and ceilings, graduating from dark to light with accompanying trance like music. It was a place to sit, meditate and absorb. It was a totally immersive and dreamlike space... a wonderful experience for all.

Lithuanian Pavilion, titled Sun and Sea (Marina), and created by artists Rugile Barzdziukaite, Vaiva Grainyte and Lina Lapelyte

Lithuanian Pavilion: visual and performance based act

The Lithuanian Pavilion, titled Sun & Sea (Marina), and created by artists Rugile Barzdziukaite, Vaiva Grainyte and Lina Lapelyte, was also an immersive performance installation that allowed the viewer to look down on a man-made beach filled with holiday makers, people relaxing on the beach contemplating their life and their vacation, as they sung a contemporary opera. It was both a visual and performance based act engaging the viewer on many levels. The only downside was the 2-hour wait in the queue!

There is always so much to see, some not so good, some excellent, some outstanding and only a few breathtaking works that will never leave you. But it is worth the very long plane trip, the large tour groups and the pigeons that fly very low!


Rone's highly desirable, impermanent art

artists, spaces

17 May 2019
Empire by Rone

I recently travelled to the Dandenong Ranges (about 50km from Naarm / Melbourne) and was fortunate to see the art installation Empire by Rone at Burnham Beeches.

Located on Sherbrooke Road, Burnham Beeches is an Art Deco Streamline-Moderne 1930s mansion completed in 1933. It was designed by architect Harry Norris to be the home of Aspro brand magnate Alfred Nicholas. The mansion was last occupied in 1991.

In 2010 Melbourne restaurateur Shannon Bennett and investor Adam Garrisson purchased the property to be redeveloped into a luxury hotel. Eight years later Bennett approached artist Rone, aka Tyrone Wright, to transform the mansion into an art installation whilst it awaited development.

Rone has completed a number of projects whereby he goes into a building about to be demolished and transforms the interior into a stylised recollection of what it was. The Omega Project is another recent example.

Empire by Rone

Rone paints directly onto the walls, Jane Doe images, and styles the interior to create a memory of the space. He photographs the interior, which in time will become obsolete, encouraging viewers to purchase a memory of the recreated space. The home/warehouse is then opened to the public to view before it is scheduled to be demolished.

To date Burnham Beeches would have to be Rone's most ambitious work – it took a year to complete with the help of many other creatives.

These projects are so desirable as they are not permanent. They pop up for a short amount of time then disappear just to become another impression.



Exhibition explores love, partnerships, togetherness, human and non-human relationships

artists, spaces

15 February 2019
Sanctuary (2018), by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini

Sanctuary (2018), by Patricia Piccinini

It is always a challenge to exhibit two artists together. Not only do their works have to relate, but also be visually pleasing. Currently at TarraWarra Museum of Art, in Healesville, the exhibition Patricia Piccinini & Joy Hester: Through Love... presents the work of two very prominent female Australian artists: Joy Hester and Patricia Piccinini.

Joy Hester was a significant Australian modernist artist, acclaimed for her highly expressionistic personal drawings. She was supported by John and Sunday Reed, who were patrons and collectors of the arts. Hester was the only female artist to participate in the avant-garde Angry Penguins group. Even though Hester's drawings were often made rapidly, they were still quite intimate artworks reflecting on personal relationships.

Patricia Piccinini is known for her large-scale, life-like sculptures. Piccinini blurs the line between the human, animal, artificial and natural worlds using drawings and technology to examine the boundaries.

Patricia Piccinini & Joy Hester: Through Love... explores the relationships of love, partnerships, togetherness, human and non-human relationships. Hester's series Love 1949 and Lovers 1955–56 is on display, as well as Piccinini's drawings, sculptures, photography and video works.

Love, c.1949, by Australian artist Joy Hester

Love, c.1949, by Joy Hester

Even though Hester was a major influence to Piccinini, I would have preferred to have seen Hester's beautiful works separately. The stand out artwork by Piccinini was the sculpture of two elderly people embracing in the back room. Their tenderness and affection for one another was touching and reinforced that love and intimacy is ageless.

Patricia Piccinini & Joy Hester: Through Love... is on until 11 March.

TarraWarra Museum of Art
313 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road
Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm

Please note: Closed on Friday 22 February and Sunday 24 February, and restricted viewing (1.30pm to 4.30pm only) on Saturday 23 February.


Art in Japan's Teshima and Naoshima: a wonderful cultural experience

artists, spaces, Japan art tours

25 June 2018
Teshima Art Museum

Teshima Art Museum: a sublime spiritual immersion

I have just spent the last few weeks in Japan discovering the islands of Teshima and Naoshima.

It was a wonderful cultural experience, with incredible installations by well-known, established artists – Christian Boltanski, Pipilotti Rist, Yayoi Kusama and Tobias Rehberger to name a few.

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 artwork

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

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!




A sensorial experience at Pharos, MONA's new $32 million wing

artists, spaces

23 March 2018

The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), in Hobart, Tasmania, has a new wing. It's called Pharos and was designed by Melbourne-based architect Nonda Katsalidis.

Besides Myself (2017) by artist James Turrell

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

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.


Venice Biennale 2017 highlights: outstanding national pavilions and artists

artists, spaces, Venice tours

20 November 2017

It always takes a few weeks to digest the Venice Biennale, walk-to-art Venice and all the visuals.

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.

My highlights:

Taiwan PavilionDoing Time
Artist: Tehching Hsieh
Curator: Adrian Heathfield

Tehching Hsieh's artwork at the Taiwan pavilion in the Venice Biennale

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

Eve Ariza's artwork at the Andorra pavilion in the Venice Biennale

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."

New Zealand PavilionEmissaries
Artist: Lisa Reihana
Curator: Rhana Devenport

Lisa Reihana's artwork at the New Zealand pavilion in the Venice Biennale

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."


Damien Hirst's artwork

Damien Hirst

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!




Excellent exhibition celebrates photography in a regional town

artists, spaces

19 September 2017
David LaChapelle's La Pieta with Courtney Love (2006)

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

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.


walk-to-art in New York: 2017 tour highlights

artists, New York tours

30 June 2017
Anish Kapoor's 'Descension' (2017), at Brooklyn Bridge Dumbo, in New York City

Anish Kapoor: Descension (2017)

New York was a little warmer than expected for June, but what a great excuse for an early afternoon Negroni Spritz made with Verve at The High Line Hotel! Having a wonderful group of tour participants who really have become friends made everything better.

As usual, walk-to-art New York covered commercial spaces, to not so commercial spaces, to pop up spaces and private ones. A few things stay the same – we start with big commercial galleries and finish with a church on Sunday (optional gospel) –, but the itinerary is always unique.

I am fortunate to be able to see wonderful artworks both locally and abroad, and this is very helpful when planning my walk-to art tours. For example, artist Anish Kapoor exhibited Ascension in the Basilica of San Giorgio in Venice for the 2011 Biennale (read the blog post), and this year my New York group was able to view Descension at Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 1. A giant pool of spiralling water... it speaks for itself. Politically charged and powerful in all ways.

Lucy Sparrow: convenience store made entirely of felt

Lucy Sparrow: convenience store made entirely of felt

This was certainly one of my personal highlights, which also include:

Eight to Eight by Lucy Sparrow – A pop up convenience store made entirely of felt. You cannot but love Lucy's work. Every "product" is made out of felt and is tactile, well-crafted and energy filled. The Twinkies sold out!

Meeting by James Turrell at MoMA PS1 – A permanent Skyscape installation after a three-year restoration. What a special room to be in. A must see experience if you are at MoMA PS1. Check the weather before going!

Of course, our visits to studios are always so engaging and thought provoking. They highlight how much energy is required to make art and to survive. It was wonderful to touch base again with Bonnie Lane (featured in the first time that walk-to-art was on Channel 9's Getaway in November 2007).

Visit to Brian Willmont's studio

Visit to Brian Willmont's studio

This Australian born, New York based contemporary visual artist has been in USA for the last six years and just completed her masters at NYU. We were also excited to learn that Bonnie will be coming back for a residency at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) later in the year.

It was also a pleasure to spend a raining Saturday afternoon with New York based contemporary visual artist/painter Brian Willmont at Greenpoint Terminal Gallery and his studio. A lovely, talented man with patience of a saint. His work was carefully constructed, masked and sprayed. How wonderful to be on the walls of the Facebook office in New York as part of their artist in residence program.


Festival in Naarm / Melbourne celebrates old school photography

artists, spaces

16 May 2017
photograph by Ross Coulter

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:

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.

photograph by Ross Coulter

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)

NGV Australia
Federation Square
Daily, 10am to 5pm

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road
Daily, 10am to 5pm


walk-to-art on Instagram: What my eye picks up along the way

artists, Melbourne tours, New York tours, Venice tours

28 February 2017

walk-to-art is finally on Instagram!

Screen shot of an Instagram post by artist Shepard Fairey featuring Ai Weiwei

Shepard Fairey's post on Instagram (click image to view it in full)

After many conversations with friends and tour participants asking "why are you not on Instagram", I finally put the app on my phone.

I always prefer to see art work in the flesh and am always hesitant to view an exhibition online. However, it seems that the "hash tagging" has become rather important to today's way of experiencing everything.

Instagram has also become a way to archive works, reach an international audience, international curators and, of course, buyers and collectors who don't have the time to visit a show. Some artists use the platform to maintain a public profile and push the boundaries of censorship.

Ai Weiwei is an excellent example. Weiwei (@aiww) knows how to use the platform better than most, going beyond self-promotion to reveal the true power of social media.

Screen shot of an Instagram post by artist Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey's post on Instagram (click image to view it in full)

Having travelled back and forth from New York for the last 10 years, I am a fan of Shepard Fairey's murals and past-ups. Fairey (@obeygiant) is also political and uses the platform to reach a wider audience, but shares links to works by other artists as well – it's a global community.

So walk-to-art's Instagram (@walktoart) will be about what my eye picks up along the way. Whether I am in Naarm / Melbourne walking the streets, visiting a studio, an art opening or on tour. Or maybe from the streets of New York to the magical lanes in Venice to the hidden bars for a cheeky glass of prosecco or two!


Bronwyn Oliver: technique, concept, beauty and elegant detail

artists, spaces

27 January 2017
Bronwyn Oliver's sculpture at Tarrawarra Museum of Art

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.

Bronwyn Oliver's sculpture at Tarrawarra Museum of Art

"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.


New York highlights and favourite places: art, coffee, dance, food, running/walking, cocktails...

10 October 2016
Street art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Street art in Williamsburg

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:

What goes on tour stays on tour. However, here are a few highlights of my time in New York City:

Richard Serra's exhibition at Gagosian, New York

Richard Serra's exhibition at Gagosian

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!


Greg Wood takes his art to an exciting country town in Victoria

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 Naarm / 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.

Greg Wood's exhibition, Slow Release, at Stockroom in Kyneton (VIC)

Greg Wood, "Park" (2015), oil on linen, 40.5cm x 43cm framed

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."


Biennale of Sydney: highlights and tips (including food)

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:

  1. Cockatoo Island
  2. MCA Australia
  3. Art Gallery of NSW
  4. Artspace
  5. Carriageworks
  6. Mortuary Station
  7. In-Between spaces
  8. 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.

Abstraction of Confusion (2016), by Taro Shinoda; clay, pigment, ochre, tatami mats, dimensions variable, in exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW

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.

Ghostboy Cantina

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!

Here is my list for Sydney:

  • 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).


MONA, Hobart, Tasmania: why you really should go

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.

poster of Gilbert and George The Art Exhibition

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:

  • MR-1 Fast Ferry is the way to get there.
  • Eat at Templo in Hobart (book before hand as it's tiny... you would hate to turn up with no seats available).
  • Eat at Franklin in Hobart (hot place to go).
  • Stay at one of MONA's pavilions with someone you love or wish to love.


La Biennale di Venezia 2015: art, food and wine overload

12 November 2015

I have just returned from the third walk-to-art Venice. It was another fabulous trip, overloaded with art, food and wine...

I am slowly digesting the wonderful time I had – a great group of people, a few standout works of art and not to forget the Prosecco!

The 56th International Art Exhibition in Venice titled All The World's Futures was curated by Nigerian born Okwui Enwezor and organized by La Biennale di Venezia. There were 136 artists representing 88 participant nations, as well as 44 collateral events approved by the curator, all scattered around Venice in disused palazzos.

We stood proud in front of the newly built Australian pavilion, making it the 30th national pavilion to be built in the Giardini. Denton Corker Marshall designed the new pavilion and Fiona Hall's work captured the eyes of many.

Highlights for all of us in this year's walk-to-art Venice were: the Japanese pavilion, Jaume Plensa's work in the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore and The Bridges of Graffiti.

installation by Chiharu Shiot

Japan's pavilion was an exquisite installation by Chiharu Shiot (pictured above). Thousands of old keys showered down from the ceiling into tangled nets of crimson thread, some slipping through, others caught in wooden boats straight out of Hokusai. This work was simply beautiful creating and intensely meditative atmosphere.

artwork by Jaume Plensa

On the island of San Giorgio we viewed Jaume Plensa's outstanding works (pictured above). A group of five alabaster sculptures of five teenaged girls from around the world, carved using reformed scans, were visually stunning and intimate. The luminosity of the portraits and the chosen long dark space of the Officina dell'Arte Spirituale created a reflective and emotional experience for all.

The Bridges of Graffiti artwork

On a lighter note, The Bridges of Graffiti was a brilliantly curated exhibition by Francesca Alinovi. A great collateral event celebrating the history of graffiti with ten artists – Boris Tellegen, Doze Green, Eron, Futura, Mode2, SKKI ©, Jayone, Todd James, Teach, Zero-T. They all worked together for the very first time, bringing to life a single cohesive Hall of Fame piece within the Arterminal walls, with the site-specific works conceived especially for the exhibition.

And, on a food note, standing up and eating fresh pasta at Bigoi, ordering the brioche con marmellata at Tonolo and drinking Prosecco with all the Venetians behind the Rialto market on a Saturday night under the stars made this trip one to remember.

I am looking forward to the next Venice trip in October 2017.


Let's celebrate the Melbourne man (ladies welcome)

19 May 2015
Festival of Steve logo

How about entering one of the most respected senior private members clubs in the City of Melbourne? One that is considered quirky, whilst respectful of tradition? And with more than a century of history?

The Kelvin Club is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2015 and opening its doors on Saturday 23 May 2015 at 12pm to host the Festival of Steve.

In its third year, Festival of Steve is an event to celebrate the Melbourne man. The official program includes talks, art, fashion, grooming with whisky and gin for all! There will also be entertainment after dark and the activation of the Melbourne Place Laneway, address of The Kelvin Club. It will be "a day for the modern man", but ladies are welcome.

art from BabyGuerrilla

When it comes to art, BabyGuerrilla (photo) will be pasting "Steve" on the wall of The Kelvin Club and Ryan F Kennedy will be weaving "Steve's" jacket, which will be auctioned later into the night.

You can view the full program on the City Precinct website. To stay abreast of Steve, follow him (#FestivalOfSteve) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Kelvin Club
Melbourne Place (view location on Google Maps)

Saturday 23 May 2015, 12pm to 8pm


Travel destination: art fairs or art is the reason why I travel

12 March 2015

I think my last actual holiday was 9 years ago. All my trips are for work – I am on tour, at an art fair or at least art is the reason I am travelling.

There is a blurred line between rest, play and work... it's all in one big bubble!

On that note, here are some art fairs that are happening this year, not to mention the La Biennale di Venezia – 56th International Art Exhibition. Fiona Hall AO will represent Australia in our new pavilion designed by Denton Corker Marshall. And, of course, walk-to-art will be there in October.

Art Basel Hong Kong
Art Basel Hong Kong
15 to 17 March 2015
VIP preview: 14 March

Why you should go: Art Basel stages the world's premier modern and contemporary art shows, held annually in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. Founded by gallerists in 1970, Art Basel has been a driving force in supporting the role that galleries play in the nurturing of artists, and the development and promotion of visual arts. There are 6 sectors: Galleries, Insights, Discoveries, Encounters, Magazines and Film. An extensive calendar of events is also on offer (starting from 10 March), as well as talks, discussions and films, pop-up bars, etc.

My advice: Go through the list of events before you leave and book online as you could miss out.

Art Central Hong Kong
Art Central Hong Kong
14 to 16 March 2015
VIP preview: 13 March

Why you should go: Art Central is Hong Kong's exciting new art fair, showcasing the next generation of talents alongside some of the most established contemporary galleries and art spaces from across the globe. There will be 3 sectors: Central, Rise and Projects. This is Art Central's debut in Hong Kong, and galleries from Sydney and Melbourne are participating.

Frieze Art Fair New York
Frieze Art Fair New York
14 to 17 May 2015

Why you should go: Frieze New York is one of the world's leading contemporary art fairs located on Randall's Island Park, in Manhattan. Frieze New York brings together the most exciting contemporary galleries around the globe as well as the non-profit program that includes artist commissions, talks and education activities.

ART 15, London
ART 15, London
21 to 23 May 2015
VIP preview: 20 May

Why you should go: Art15, the third edition of London's global art fair, will bring together 150 of the world' s most exciting galleries from 40 countries. They will showcase the masters of the modern era through to leading international artists from the contemporary scene. From Amman to Amsterdam, New York to New Delhi and Sao Paulo to Seoul, the fair will present art from across the globe.


Richard Avedon People: back to NY and incredible photography without leaving Melbourne

12 January 2015

There are many things I miss about New York City. I miss Brooklyn, I miss my favourite café (Bakeri in Williamsburg) and I miss the art.

Recently over coffee, my dear friend Christopher Köller reminded me about the Richard Avedon (1923–2004) exhibition at The University of Melbourne's The Ian Potter Museum of Art: Richard Avedon People. The other day I went there without expectations and walked out with a sense of having just travelled. Travelled back to NYC and travelled back to incredible photography.

I am "old school"; I only shoot with a Rolleiflex and film is my loyal friend... I know how to work it; I like the surprises and the mistakes and the quality of a 6 x 6 negative. A silver gelatin print always captures my attention and eye.

Writer Truman Capote by Richard Avedon (New York City, 1955)

Writer Truman Capote by Richard Avedon (New York City, 1955)

The Ian Potter Museum of Art is a beautiful space. The eighty works by Avedon are presented over two levels in partnership with The Richard Avedon Foundation (New York) and the National Portrait Gallery (Canberra).

"One of the world's great photographers, Avedon is best known for transforming fashion photography from the late 1940s onwards. The full breadth of Avedon's renowned work is revealed in this stunning exhibition of 80 black and white photographs dating from 1949 to 2002. Avedon's instantly recognisable iconic portraits of artists, celebrities, and countercultural leaders feature alongside his less familiar portraiture works that capture ordinary New Yorkers going about their daily lives, and the people of America's West. With uncompromising rawness and tenderness, Avedon's photographs capture the character of individuals extraordinary in their uniqueness and united in their shared experience of humanity."

Avedon printed each work before his death in 2004, whilst on assignment at the age of 81. Richard Avedon People is on until 15 March 2015.

The Ian Potter Museum of Art
The University of Melbourne
Swanston Street (view location on Google Maps)
Parkville VIC 3010

Until 15 March

Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm
Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 5pm