Australian Galleries

One of my favourites, Australian Galleries (open seven days a week and just off Smith Street Collingwood) has three excellent exhibitions on at the moment.

Mary Tonkin “Ramble”.  The star of this exhibition is a series of 1.8m high panels put together which curve around the large gallery space.  Mary’s works are of the bush in Kalorama Victoria – not far from Melbourne. Her visions straddle the seasons invoking bright summer days, cool misty mornings and vibrant autumnal colours.  The gallery has provided benches, so if you have the chance sit awhile soak in her colours and brush marks, you can almost the birds sing and the leaves rustle.

Across the road in their second building is an exhibition of works by John Wolseley and Mulkun Wirrpanda.

This is the fourth collaboration between these two artists focusing on Arnhem Land.  This exhibition focuses on the coastal stretches – sea creatures, sea plants, mangrove swamps and so on.

John  Wolseley works include sculpture, paintings, and prints.  His is a very unique style of “painting” – using the objects or living specimens (e.g. , branches, seaweed) to create images on his medium.  His aim is to beyond a fact of existence and capture  a sense of a life over time.

Mulkun Wirrpanda works include beautiful bark paintings and memorial poles, focusing on the creatures and plants of coastal Arnhem Land.  Mulkun’s art is not just inspiring, it is also her means of recording and passing on knowledge within the indigenous and broader Australian community.




Trinity College -“Revealed”

Trinity College has an exhibition “Revealed: Arnhem Land Barks from the Anita Castan Collection – Yirrkala and Milingimbi”.  The exhibition is in the Sir Joseph Burke Gallery in the Gateway Building. (Catch the No 19 tram down Elizabeth Street, and it will drop you outside the gateway.  the stop after the Melbourne University stop)

This is a lovely exhibition, not huge, but includes brief histories of the artists, where possible, and indigenous stories alongside the paintings.

There are  no ‘dot’ paintings  – these works are of x-ray and cross-hatch painting, which does not appear in galleries so often now, although it was included in the  NAIDOC exhibition at the NGV Ian Potter Centre.  It is worth a visit to the Trinity College to remember just how striking this style of indigenous art is and how it can be read  / mapped to the stories they depict.

You can walk around have a good read and a good look.  They have also provided two large soft benches in the middle of the room (thank you), this enables you to sit and have a good long look at individual works and the collection as a whole.





National Gallery Victoria – Ian Potter Centre

This week is NAIDOC Week so I wandered into the NGV Ian Potter Centre in Federation Square.  On the third floor are two free exhibitions – they could not be more different. Vibrant earth colours versus the softest of pastels.

The first is an exhibition of Indigenous artwork: “From Bark to Neon” spread through multiple gallery rooms.  This exhibition displays beautiful “dot” art and “line” art and extends beyond these traditional methods into contemporary indigenous art.  This includes completely different  painting styles and mediums, including neon. However there is always a message or story associated with the works. Includes paintings and sculpture and neon.

On the opposite side of the third floor is an exhibition of contemporary artworks by Rosslynd Piggott “I sense you but I cannot see you”.  As per the title you need to to exercise your eye-sight and your imagination with many of these artworks.  Really interesting tonal works and blending of different pastel colours on a single canvas. Master of subtle.  Includes sculpture, photography, paintings even glassware.



National Gallery of Victoria

I love the National Gallery of Victoria.  Although these exhibitions are fee charging they are so worth a visit.

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality

This is great exhibition well set up with mirrors to ensure it is possible to view all sides of the statues.  They look very simple but everything tells a story (refer the excellent explanatory notes).  Stye of clothing, even hats, trousers and tunics indicate status in life and / or the army.  Each statue is unique – positions of hand and arm change; expressions on faces change.  And every one is life sized. What very clever artists so, so long ago.

Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Lanndscape

When you are wandering through the first room looking at the walls, remember to look  up – you will see the first few “starlings” that lead the way beyond the terracotta warriors to the “Murmuration” of starlings.  Cai uses gun powder in creating his artworks – yes he lays it down and blows it up.  Amazing what he creates – you will say yes I can see a landscape and you will be able to identify flowers.  And when you find the murmuration of starlings, you will find a transient moment captured in ceramics in the space above your head.  At the end of the exhibit is a video of Cai managing an explosion used to create works on display.  It is set to the sound of chinese drums and is a brilliant finale.

Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor

Alexander Calder loves drawing and movement.  He creates beautiful large scale “mobiles” and expanded his love of drawing to using wire to create the line that is  a cheek, a nose, a smile – 3D portraits in wire.  With each of his mobiles, hanging from the ceiling,  I found myself  wondering how long it took to find the right point to attach the hook so that the mobile hung true and did not collapse upon itself.

A great few hours exploring these wonderful exhibitions from our NGV.



Incinerator Gallery

Incinerator Gallery exhibition titled “Fireworks 2019” showcases the art and design of Year 11 and 12 students who live or go to  school in Moonee Valley.  The exhibition is on until 24th March and is well worth a visit.

I love this exhibition.  It would be a serious misjudgement to underestimate the skills and talents of these school kids.  Works include (but not limited to):

  • recycling of plastic into wonderfully colourful structures that look like glass,
  • portraits in a variety of styles and mediums – with the added stress of capturing with brush strokes a history / character  of family members (that isn’t easy and yet they have done it so very well)
  • watercolours and video that address depression and anxiety in young people and how to work through it
  • sculpture using found objects, chalk paint, fabric etc.

Each artist has provided an artist statement.   They are written using simple language, in simple sentences to clearly state the inspiration for / purpose behind their art and the statements are directly relatable to the artwork created.  Thank you artists, in my opinion there is lesson in your statements for many practicing artists whose statements are mind boggling complicated.

In addition to the artworks are design works – these include logos, perfume bottle design, building design, interior design.  This is another WOW.

Go visit the gallery and then enjoy a stroll along the Maribyrnong River or visit Poyntons Nursery (all within a short walk of the gallery).

Bella Iliovski: “Modern Praise” glass paint on carved acrylic sheet (St. Columba’s College Essendon)


Olga Alexandrou: “Entropy” Oil on cotton, wood, nails (Penleigh & Essendon Grammar School)


Natalia Cierpisz: “Matthew in Green” oil pastel, oil paint on mount board (Ave Maria College)


Tiana Monteleone: “Amorphous” plastic, (St Columba’s College Essendon)





ACMi – Australian Centre for the Moving Image is in Federation Square in Melbourne.  They have, until 10th March, a great (free) exhibition of cinematic work by Christian Marclay (unfortunately he is not Australian but this exhibition is so worth a look.

To quote the ACMi website:  “The Clock is a 24-hour video installation made from thousands of clips of clocks, watches and other references to time from film and television.  These are masterfully edited together to present and synced to the present moment in one mesmerising collage.”

So if you are in the cinema at in your lunch hour – lets say 12:15 – the clock referenced in the extract will be 12:45 and they manage to move almost minute by minute through the 24 hours in a day.

I went along because I heard a snippet of a discussion about it on ABC Radio.  As I went about my business for the rest of the day there was this bug in my head – how could such a collage of clips from movies / TV over the last 50 years hang together, I imagined it to be annoyingly disconnected – that it would drive me mad; so off I went to watch a bit.

In a very strange way it works really well together; here was nostalgia (movies and actresses not seen for a long time but well remembered) as well as more recent movies with suspense, amusement and scary bits too.  Not the least bit boring or annoying and strangely, not even disconnected.

You can watch as much as you like or as little, moving into and out of the cinema without annoying others.  Go back at different time of day or night and you will see a completely new series of clips.

All kudos to the artist Richard Marclay for creating this artwork and just as much kudos for those folk who searched out all the time references – what an exercise – end result an artwork that has been in galleries around the world since 2010.





Little Bell Gallery

The Little Bell Gallery in Yarraville is just around the corner from tbe iconic Sun Theatre and  sells beautiful arts and crafts.  The January exhibition is titled “From Kyoto to Alice”.  It includes Japanese woodblock art and wonderful paintings from the “Hermannsburg School” of artists.

Mervyn Rubuntja is an indigenous artist from the Hermannsburg School and has created striking landscapes in bold, bright, watercolours that speak to the beauty of outback Australia.


Over the Holidays

Many of the galleries in Melbourne will either close down or show stock from their signed artists through December and January, with exhibitions of new works generally commencing in late January or early February.  Still worth a visit if your local gallery is open.  On the other hand galleries at holiday destinations are likely to be open and exhibiting new works. (You will find links to these galleries and more on the pages “Suburban Galleries or Regional Galleries, accessed via the navigation panel.)  I will start back with more gallery visits and hopefully more photos of our wonderful artists work in February 2019.

National Gallery Victoria:

Although it is not free I recommend a visit to the NGV which has a great exhibition on over the summer that involves illusion, curiosity and imagination.  An exhibition for all the family.

Brunswick:      Tinning Street Gallery has a new exhibition starting 17/01/19.

Collingwood:   Australian Galleries – reopening with new exhibition 15/01/19

St. Kilda:          Linden New Art reopening from 02/01/19 open Tuesday to Sunday (excluding public holidays)

Ballarat:           Art Gallery of Ballarat ; Post Office Art Gallery; and the Lost Ones (open from 07/01/19)

Bendigo:          Bendiga Art Gallery has an exhibition of photos by Frida Kahlo until 10/02/19.

Geelong:           Geelong Art Gallery: has exhibitions for adults and children – interactive digital design  and play; remains open except for public holidays.

Kyneton:          The Old Auction house is open  7 days a week and is full of great arts and crafts.

Phillip Island: Mingara Gallery always worth a visit, open Thursday to Sunday.

Warnambool:   Art Gallery is open every day  until Good Friday; interesting art, photography in the gallery plus art (sculpture) in public spaces program.






The Art Room

The Art Room in Footscray is a wonderful place.  It is a community centre for artists who come from all over Melbourne to take classes, participate in workshops, work in the open studio sessions.  Everything that happens in the Art Room is delivered by professional artists sharing their experiences, techniques, highs and lows of being an artist and how to identify and manage what your art practice is.  They encourage each aspiring artist to develop their own unique styles.  And so it is that when the Art Room has it’s “Open Studio exhibition” at the end of the year, that there is a tremendous range of subject matter, styles and types of art on display.

The exhibition was on Saturday and Sunday, (8/9 December) so I am unfortunately too late in getting this up on the website.  If nothing else this is to make the point that there are so many great artists at work around town whose you will not find them in the major galleries (e.g. NGV); you will find some in your local galleries but there are even more art works that don’t make it into a gallery, because there is so much competition for gallery exhibitions. Look at the art, find and follow the artist that appeals to you.








The Northern Highway Galleries

Going on a road trip this summer?  (Norther Highway takes you from Melbourne up to Echuca) Needing to stop off for a cuppa and to stretch your legs?  Visit a local gallery – probably one on the main street in amongst the cafes.

Heathcote – Mudwood Studio

This studio supports a range of local artists and so has a variety of works to entertain and inspire – sculpture, painting, ceramics, photography and more. Susie Marcroft sculptor and gallery owner will happily chat with you about the inspiration and aims of her works.

Rochester – SILO ART

This is not a studio it is art in public spaces –  making something amazing out of something very ordinary.  In the interest of driver safety pull over to check out the Silo Art – giant murals painted on the exterior of two silos in the centre of the town.  Artist Jimmy DVat has apparently travelled the world creating his gigantic artworks.

Echuca – Alton Art Gallery & the Holden Museum

The Alton Art Gallery  supports local artists from Echuca and Moama (over the Murray river in NSW). If you are a car enthusiast, Echuca is home to The National Holden (car) Museum in Echuca.