Blog – Spaces

A complete, resolved and conceptually clear show in Fitzroy

7 December 2011

Mum's the Word is the latest exhibition by Melbourne-based artist Catherine Bell at Sutton Project Space in Fitzroy.

As soon as I walked into Sutton Project Space, I felt that I was back in New York City.

You could feel the streets of NYC, the air, the energy, and the hustle and bustle.

Photograph by Catherine Bell

At first, the large pinned black and white photographs by Catherine Bell look to be mums with their children crossing the busy streets. On closer inspection you realise that these women do not belong to these babies and children. They are the hired help; they are the African American nannies that often go unmentioned and unrecognised.

"Bell builds on her longstanding interest in motherhood, surrogacy and deviant maternity, and also presents new ideas relating to the per formative nature of public space."

It's the first time in a long time that I've walked into a show at Sutton Project Space and felt the exhibition was complete, resolved and conceptually clear. The photographs are not technically outstanding; they don't need to be as Bell has produced a very tight and balanced show.

Sutton Project Space
230 Young Street, Fitzroy (view location on Google Maps)
Friday and Saturdays only, 1pm to 5pm
Until 17 December


Wow factor art in Naarm / Melbourne

10 November 2011

The problem, if it is a problem, with travelling overseas – especially to see a Biennale – is that you are spoilt with an abundance of art.

I have come back to Melbourne in search of the wow factor and so far this is my list:

Murray White Room
Sargood Lane (off Exhibition Street, between Flinders Lane and Flinders Street), Melbourne

Transfer Stations by Mira Gojak

Artwork by Mira Gojak

Exhibition runs until 19 November
Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 6pm, and Saturday, 12pm to 4pm

  • Great to walk into Murray White Room and see 2 fabulous installations.
  • The 2 works occupy the space perfectly and I love the use of various materials, lines, dimensions and colours.
  • The works are technical, beautiful and should be in a fabulous foyer somewhere!

Lamington Drive
15–25 Keele Street, Collingwood (view location on Google Maps)

Page Girls by Kat Macleod

Artwork by Kat Macleod

Exhibition runs until 19 November
Wednesday to Friday, 11am to 6pm, and Saturday, 12pm to 5pm

  • The cardboard gallery continues with great works by artists/illustrators.
  • The unique states by Kat Macleod are worth buying if there are any left.
  • Otherwise you can buy a digital print or the book!

Mailbox 141
Entrance, 141–143 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (view location on Google Maps)

The Wonderful House by Owen Hammond

Artwork by Owen Hammond

Exhibition runs until 2 December
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, and Saturday, 10am to 5pm

  • Incredible houses occupy 14 mailboxes at Mailbox 141.
  • Owen Hammond's works are crafted to perfection and are fascinating.
  • The exhibition asks us about where do we live, what type of house do we occupy, what goes into our house.


walk-to-art Venice: 6 days of opulent space and art, 2 outstanding artists

25 October 2011

walk-to-art has just taken a group to La Biennale di Venezia – 54th International Art Exhibition – the first walk-to-art Venice.

Before I left for Italy I had a few people informing me that this year's Biennale was not very good, others saying that it was fabulous.

Well, I must say it was amazing. It was great on so many levels and not just for the art.

For 5 months every second year, Venice is transformed. For the art lover it is an abundance of opulent space and art in museums, disused buildings and of course the main arena's the Giardini and Arsenale.

During our time there every afternoon was dedicated to art and prosecco at 5pm... perfect. The mornings were for the early walks before the crowds and cruise ships started rolling in.

I've been back under a week and, after seeing a lot of art, I am still thinking about a few of the outstanding pieces:

  • The most outstanding artist was Anish Kapoor, who is based in London.
  • The most outstanding pavilion was the French one hosting Christian Boltanski.
Ascension by Anish Kapoor, Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore, La Biennale di Venezia – 54th International Art Exhibition

Ascension by Anish Kapoor is located in the magnificent Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore.

"Ascension is a site-specific installation that materializes the paradox of the column of smoke: a vortex of white smoke rises from a circular base."

The feeling was one of enlighten, spirituality and peace. At first it appears to be lifeless, but with further attention a "tornado" swirl of smoke slowly rises to the top and disappears into the suction of the exhaust fan.

The space, the religious aspect, the technical difficulties, the concept is all outstanding. This is an installation that captured the audience emotionally, conceptually and technically.

Unfortunately for me the Australian pavilion was disappointing. However, next-door was a perfectly sharpened exhibition by Christian Boltanski representing France.

Christian Boltanski, a leading figure in the international art scene, featured a spectacular installation entitled "Chance."

Chance, by Christian Boltanski, French pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia – 54th International Art Exhibition

"Chance" marks an important stage in the evolution of Christian Boltanski's work. Unlike the rest of his art, which is dominated by disappearance and death, here he opens himself up to a broader examination of fate. The unfolding of life and the rhythm of births and deaths raise the question of the universal and the individual in a new form, of what distinguishes one being from another.

Far from being grim, the ambience here is welcoming. Even though the brutality of an industrial and mechanical system serves thwarts the building's neoclassical harmony, here filtered light illumines the faces of newborns.

The sheer mechanical sound, install and the interaction aspect was outstanding and engaging. It was great to watch children get involved and excited.

Art is to speak to all and especially at the Biennale, where there are so many people from all walks of life. Both Kapoor's and Boltanski's works were successful because they achieved and produced work that was of an outstanding level.


Getting ready for Venice

9 September 2011

I have many friends on the way or on their return from La Biennale di Venezia – 54th International Art Exhibition, the oldest biennale in the world.

As for me, I have spent the last few days writing the info pack that will be sent to all the participants heading to walk-to-art Venice, between 10 and 16 October.

There's so much to see, not only in the main areas, such as the Giardini and Arsenale, but also in the buildings scattered throughout Venice and the islands.

It is important to travel and view art on an international level. It's exciting to view new spaces, art in different spaces and art that is contributing to our environment politically, socially and culturally.

Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia) remains as the most important and prestigious event on the international contemporary visual arts calendar.

Hany Armanious, La Biennale Di Venezia, Australian Pavilion, 04/06/11-27/11/11

The Australian Pavilion is positioned within the Biennale Gardens (Giardini di Castello). The pavilion was designed by renowned Australian architect Philip Cox and opened in 1988. It was gifted to the Commonwealth Government and is currently managed by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Australia's official representation for the Venice Biennale 2011 will feature artist Hany Armanious. This exhibition will be curated by Anne Ellegood, who is based in Los Angeles at the Hammer Museum.


Melbourne's art scene has a new space: Daine Singer

5 July 2011

It's always exciting when a new space is opened in Naarm / Melbourne.

Daine Singer has recently opened in the basement of 325 Flinders Lane in Naarm / Melbourne (view location on Google Maps). It is always a risk to have a hidden space in Naarm / Melbourne, as it takes a while for the wider community to find these amazing places. It is not easy for people to find some art spaces and galleries in Naarm / Melbourne, but this is what makes this city so unique.

Daine Singer is known for acting as an independent curator, as well as working in commercial galleries. Her recent curatorial projects include:

Daine has held positions including:

She has a BA (art history and history), Grad Dip in Arts Management and Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne, and is a member of the advisory committee at Blindside ARI.

The first exhibition to be shown at Daine Singer gallery features the works of Kate James, The Other Side to Despair, until 30 July 2011.

Artwork by Melbourne-based artist Kate James

Cipher (2011), by Kate James

"Melbourne-based artist Kate James employs repetitive and painstaking techniques, often adapted from uncommon, sometimes obsolete, craft practices. In this new body of work the measuring of time is counted out in tiny horsehair stitches."

Artwork by Melbourne-based artist Kate James

The Work of Worry is Never Done (2006), by Kate James

The work is delicate, erotic and incredibly beautiful. It is lovely to see such crafted work.

Welcome Daine Singer!

Daine Singer
Kate James, The Other Side to Despair
Basement, 325 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000

Wednesday to Saturday, 12pm to 5pm (or by appointment)
Until 30 July 2011


Into the Dark: memory, moments, relationships

17 May 2011

It has been such a pleasure to follow Bonnie Lane's journey as an artist in the last 4 years. I discovered Lane's work in 2007 at Platform artist run initiative.

I suppose what I was attracted to was not only the concept of her video installation, but her drive, focus and ability to engage in conversation.

To me, Lane is an old soul and her work is about:

  • memory
  • moments
  • childhood
  • adulthood
  • personal relationships.

Her work has grown from strength to strength. Lane is a clear example of an achiever, someone who has an idea or goal and makes it happens. Whether it's travelling to Berlin, completing her masters or fine-tuning her video installation work.

Lane has also been very successful in receiving grants, and this current body of work, Into the Dark, is supported by the City of Melbourne through the Arts Grants Program. Into the Dark is showing at BUS Projects Gallery, basement level, Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke Street, Melbourne (view location on Google Maps).

BUS Projects Gallery is located in an incredible basement, and I have seen shows there that have completely used the space to their advantage and others that have not been so successful.

Into the Dark works so well at BUS Projects Gallery. Lane has made the work for the space, and the darkness, coldness and narrow pathways add to the viewer's experience.

Bonnie Lane's artwork

Lane's work clearly is about the light, repetition and reframed memories. The most haunting piece would have to be the "girl skipping" – tucked away in a small alcove, the continuous loop of a girl facing away from the viewer and continual skipping allows us to reflect and remember our own childhood memories, lost or forgotten.

BUS Projects Gallery
Donkey Wheel House
673 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Wednesday to Saturday, 12pm to 6pm
Until 28 May 2011


Street artists: from public open areas to indoor commercial galleries

1 March 2011

Andy Mac (Until Never and Citylights Project, in Naarm / Melbourne) has educated and worked with communities and building owners in Naarm / Melbourne for several years.

He is the reason why Hosier Lane (view location on Google Maps) is the most photographed lane in Naarm / Melbourne.

In 2004 Andy Mac assisted the National Gallery of Australia, in Canberra, in the acquisition of a large selection of stencil work for its works of paper collection.

His gallery, Until Never, is an independent gallery in Naarm / Melbourne, presenting contemporary art by Australian and international artists. Founded in 2005, it was the first commercial gallery supporting street artists into the gallery system. The works sold at Until Never remain very reasonably-priced and the exhibitions, strong.

"Hosier may feel impossibly offbeat, but its twists and turns are the essence of the city. This is embodied by Until Never, a small gallery that punches above its weight with some of the most influential emerging street founded art in the world." Financial Times (March 2011).

Larger commercial galleries, such as Metro Gallery on High Street, Armadale, have followed in Andy Mac's vision but with a highly commercial edge. They have invested a substantial amount in support of this style of art. In return, the works are highly priced and are being purchased by a larger middle market.

In 2010 Metro Gallery hosted Blek Le Rat and in 2011 it is Swoon.

Swoon's artwork

"Swoon has been working on the streets of New York City for over 10 years, creating large scale paste-ups of the every day inhabitants of the Big Apple. She uses traditional print making techniques to reproduce these beautiful images at life size before hitting the streets to create her own unique, narrative driven cityscape. Swoon also ensures that each piece she creates is inherently unique by physically cutting details into her works, this process of subtraction allows the pieces to take on a life of their own on the street because the textures and tones of the surface they are pasted on then become integral to the construction of the work themselves. While the method of her work is indebted to both traditional craftsmanship and classic painterly technique, her execution is entirely modern. It is this method of incorporating both age old techniques and contemporary graffiti practice that makes her work so compelling, not to mention highly sought after. She has contributed work to MOMA, Art Basel Miami, and the Brooklyn museum."

Swoon's artwork

Swoon is on until 5 March 2011. Swoon has totally reconstructed the space and the installations look great. All her hours and hard work are definitely noted.

Metro Gallery
1214 High Street Armadale VIC (view location on Google Maps)
Monday to Friday, 10am to 5.30pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 5pm


A new year in the art world: Debut

1 February 2011

The art industry has reopened for 2011 with Debut VII at Blindside.

For the last 7 years, Blindside Artist Run Initiative has opened the new year with an exhibition titled Debut.

"Debut is in its seventh incarnation. Every year since 2005, a curator nominated by the Blindside committee visits the graduate exhibitions of Naarm / Melbourne's major art schools and invites artists to exhibit early the following year. This year's curators, Shae Nagorka and Julian White, have selected group that, if we are being overly simplistic, could be described as formalists. However, the methodical and prescribed practices displayed reveal a deep emotional understanding of the often-overlooked subtleties of our everyday experiences that, taken en masse, make up our lives."

In the 2010 exhibition I particularly enjoyed Ted Mckinlay's work and in 2011 standouts would have to be Alice Wormald and Jessica Honey.

Alice Wormald's artwork

Alice's beautiful oil painting of an intimidation pot plant is technically very sound and textural. The different tones of green emphasise the real being the hanging pot basket and the unreal being the pot plant itself.

Jessica Honey's artwork

Jessica's smaller images of "yacht-owning" children are also successful in representing a purely aesthetic level. The children's gaze and light colour scheme of white, baby blue and pink all successfully work in an exercise of formalism.

There are 8 artists in total:

  1. Mari Adams
  2. Sam Barbour
  3. Fiona Boyd
  4. Zoe Croggon
  5. Jessica Honey
  6. Adele Macer
  7. Esther Stewart
  8. Alice Wormald

Blindside Artist Run Initiative (view location on Google Maps)
Gallery One and Two
Level 7, Room 14, Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street Melbourne 3000

Wednesday to Saturday, 12pm to 6pm
Until 5 February 2011


Platform Artists Group Inc. turns 20 years!

7 January 2011

For all the many people who conduct tours in Naarm / Melbourne, Platform is a regular on the itinerary.

Platform is the hidden underground path of window boxes that over the past 20 years has displayed:

  • group shows
  • solo exhibitions
  • installation
  • even performance shows.

Melbourne would not be the same without these hidden public art spaces that are occupied by talented artists.

Platform has a continuos flow of traffic every day from Flinders Street Station and is a perfect art space for an emerging artist to showcase their body of work to a larger audience.

Platform Artists Group Inc. was established by artists Andrew Seward and Richard Holt in 1990 as a non-profit public art organisation.

Twenty years on and, as Melbourne's longest running artists-run initiative and public art project in the CBD, Platform continues to provide an engaging contemporary art program to public audiences at its 2 main locations:

  • Campbell Arcade, the pedestrian underpass linking Flinders Street Station to Degraves Street (view location on Google Maps)

  • the nearby Majorca Building in Centre Way Arcade off Flinders Lane (view location on Google Maps)

Funding partners – Platform is supported by the City of Melbourne, Arts Victoria and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Celebrating 20 years of Platform - Melbourne

The current birthday show runs from 10 December 2010 to 29 January 2011.

Artists include: AND, Kate Cotching, Adam Cruickshank, DAMP, Michael Graeve, Brad Haylock, Richard Holt, Ash Keating, Simone LeAmon, Bridie Lunney and Meredith Turnbull, Simon Pericich, Tape Projects and Andrew Seward.

The event will also launch the publication "What Art, Which Public: Platform Artists Group 1990–2010", which captures just some of the history, events and exhibitions from this period. Edited by Angela Brophy, featuring an introductory essay by Zara Stanhope, interview with former directors and short story by Richard Holt.

Details on how to purchase the book will be coming soon on Platform's website.

Happy birthday, Platform!


Two Sundays at Heide Museum of Modern Art

1 November 2010

I have recently spent two fabulous Sundays at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Heidelberg (Melbourne).

What a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I loved Nan Goldin's 40-minute slide projection and, on the second Sunday, I viewed the Mirka Mora exhibition located at Heide I.

"Mirka's art is characterised by a sensuous, colourful naive style and an idiosyncratic iconography of recurring motifs, including angels, children, cats, dogs, birds and snakes. As well as painting and drawing she has worked in mosaic, soft sculpture and doll-making. Many of the artworks in this exhibition were once in the collection of Heide founders John and Sunday Reed and are inscribed with delightful personal messages, tracing the development of an enduring friendship.

"A highlight of the exhibition is a new large scale painting executed by the artist on the sunroom windows of the Heide I farmhouse."

Mirka Mora's artwork

The Mirka show is opened until 1 May 2011, so there is plenty of time to head down and spend an afternoon wandering.

Indulgence – I suppose what makes the day so pleasant is the new addition of Café Vue at Heide. If you pre-book you will receive the Menu Du Jour, at a set price. Otherwise, the trick is, on arrival, to put your name down on the waiting list, and the staff will call you when your table is ready.

So, after you walk around and see the three spaces – Heide House I, Heide House II and also the main space and the Heide store –, you are ready to sit and indulge. The menu is very well priced, clever bistro food. If you just want coffee and sweets, they can do!

When the weather gets better and the sun is shining, you could have a gourmet picnic in the gardens, which are beautifully maintained.

A great way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon!

Heide Museum of Modern Art (view location on Google Maps)
7 Templestowe Road
Bulleen VIC 3105

Telephone: (03) 9850 1500

Daily (except Monday), from 10am to 5pm