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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 Melbourne out of lock down and starting to resume a new COVID-19 normal, walk-to-art Melbourne has resumed in a slightly different format. Smaller groups on Fridays and private tours on Saturday and Sundays.

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 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.