Final tweaks to walk-to-art Japan, plus Tokyo and Kyoto discoveries

Hitsuji bakery, in Kyoto, Japan

Hitsuji bakery, in Kyoto, Japan

Japan tours

17 January 2024

Hello, it's been a while! Happy 2024.

In November 2023, a trip to Japan that had been scheduled for 2020 resumed, and I was able to complete the final tweaks to walk-to-art's Seto Inland Sea islands tour.

This trip was just as wonderful as the last. I spent more time in Tokyo and Kyoto discovering great eateries, specialised bakeries and coffee shops. One memorable place was Hitsuji, a small bakery dedicated to natural yeast doughnuts. I'm not a big fan of doughnuts, however, these were incredible, so light and delicate. I was in the line for close to 1.5 hours, but in heaven as soon as I took a bite!

Weekenders Coffee Tominokoji, in Kyoto, Japan

Weekenders Coffee Tominokoji, in Kyoto, Japan

Whilst in Tokyo, I stayed at Hanare a small boutique hotel (guesthouse) in the area of Yanaka – such a special experience. The attention to detail, personalised tour, notes left at breakfast, all contributed to a lovely stay. The area was fabulous and creative.

If you are familiar with the great café CIBI in Collingwood, Melbourne, you will love the fact that their sister café is located in Yanaka. A creative village with no high-rise buildings, small bars and eateries, it is worth a look in next time you are in town.

Travelling in early November the temperature was perfect walking weather. It wasn't until I ventured up north to a group of hot springs located in Towada-Hachimantai National Park that I needed the padded jacket as the snow started to fall. I visited Nyuto Onsen Village and stayed at Ganiba Onsen in the middle of a primeval beech forest. Bathing at night in the forest whist the snow fell was surreal and beautiful, an experience that I always remember!

Towada-Hachimantai National Park

Towada-Hachimantai National Park, in Japan

After many years in the making, I am thrilled to announce that walk-to-art Japan is now curated and scheduled for October 2024. The tour will focus on the art islands of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima. and the group will reside at Uno Hotel, Tamano-shi, for 4 nights.

Next to the hotel is the open air onsen, Setouchi Onsen Tamanoyu. A favourite place of mine, and a chance to bathe under the stars. I will only be taking 8 adults and bookings are now open!






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!


How wonderful to be visually stimulated by the things that we love

Melbourne tours, Venice art tours

14 December 2021
photo of Venice, taken during walk to art Venice

The last two years have been challenging for all but I'm thrilled that we are open again. How wonderful to be visually stimulated by the things that we love.

The Naarm / Melbourne tours are running again, so join one of our weekly tours or book a private tour.

Vouchers can be purchased online for that someone special in your life and are valid for 3 years.

If we can travel safely, there will be a walk-to-art Venice tour in October! The 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia or Venice Biennale has been titled The Milk of Dreams/Il latte dei sogni. It will take place from 23 April to 27 November 2022 and is curated by Cecilia Alemani.

Alemani is the first Italian woman to hold this position in the history of the exhibition. She is currently the Director and Chief Curator of High Line Art, the public art program presented in the urban park in New York – for those who have been on walk-to-art New York you will be familiar with the exciting High Line Walk!

Alemani was also the curator of the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017 (read Venice Biennale 2017 highlights: outstanding national pavilions and artists).

The Australian Pavilion will be represented by artist Marco Fusinato and curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor. Fusinato has led a distinguished career as a contemporary Australian artist and musician. Combining gallery practices and live performance, Fusinato works extensively across installation, photography, performance, recording and publishing.

Alexie Glass-Kantor is one of Australia's most highly regarded curators, currently the Executive Director of Artspace in Sydney and the curator of Encounters for Art Basel Hong Kong.

We shall wait and see what the new year unfolds!


Loving Melbourne and future travels

Melbourne tours, Venice art tours

12 December 2020
photo of artwork taken in Naosima, during a research trip for walk to art Japan

Naoshima: planning the exciting walk-to-art Japan

2020 has been a year to remember. In some ways it was lovely to slow down and not to travel. We learned to pivot, to make sourdough, to Zoom and to spend time being local.

Galleries closed their doors, art fairs went online and biennales were rescheduled. As people were home, art sales increased and empty walls were filled.

I reflected on the many international tours over the years that I had guided... the visual, cultural and gastronomy highlights of New York and Venice. I was appreciative that I was in Australia and safe at home.

I had a number of participants whom had travelled with me over the years to Venice and New York ring and express how lucky they were to have a collection of wonderful memories and visuals from the tours.

photo of artwork taken in Venice

walk to art Venice: fingers crossed we will be there in 2022

My research trip to Japan to Tokyo, Nasoshima, Teshima and Inujima was cancelled in April (read Art in Japan's Teshima and Naoshima: a wonderful cultural experience). However, the exciting walk-to-art Japan will be planned when we can travel again.

The Melbourne tours and website received a little tweaking, with vouchers and tours now available to purchase online. With Naarm / Melbourne out of lock down and starting to resume a new COVID-19 normal, walk-to-art Naarm / Melbourne has resumed in a slightly different format. Smaller groups and private tours.

I am thrilled to be still operating after 13 years and feel very fortunate to have shared so much art with so many participants during this time! Fingers crossed we will be together in Venice in 2022!


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.