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.
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.
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.
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.
There are a numbers of art societies in Melbourne and Victoria. Mostly regional (e.g. Heidelberg, Malvern) sometimes stylistic (Contemporary Art Society). Local Art Societies are typically not-for-profit and welcome members young and old. I have listed a few below.
Art Societies create an arts community with activities including painting excursions (en plein air), workshops or classes which may include still life sessions and arranging volunteer sitters for portrait painting. (Keeps costs down). They also arrange exhibitions of members works, on their own premises or elsewhere. The Heidelberg Art Society has an ongoing exhibition of artworks in a Warringal Shopping Centre (behind the Austin Hospital). Here you will meet artists who are more than willing to have a chat and discuss how they work with their mediums – last week I discovered scratch boards for the first time. Some beautiful, small works of ink on scratchboard depicting Australian native animals. Very finely details birds. Other societies have annual exhibitions.
The Point Leo Estate is a private enterprise that incorporates, a winery, a restaurant and a sculpture park. So you can do / spend as much as you want on wine or food. If you are only interested in the sculpture park there is a $10.00 entry fee and I think it is worth it.
The park sits between vineyards, the restaurant and the ocean. Although the ocean is not accessible from the park, it forms a glorious back drop to many of the sculptures. You see through some to the ocean beyond and around others. The works cover the abstract, architectural, colourful and readily identifiable subject matter. They are all contemporary including both Australian and international artists (some deceased, some still practising). Favourites included works by Australian artists Dean Bowen and Peter Blizzard. For international artists – the work “Sky is the Limit” by Tomokazu Matsuyama, sparkles like a giant chandelier when the sun strikes the polished stainless steel.
Some of the works you will look at and realise that you have seen works by the particular artists before – in public spaces around Melbourne. We do not have enough art in public spaces in Melbourne. I believe that any new major construction be it a tower in the CBD or high rise in the suburbs, the builders should be required to provide 1. public space and 2. art in a public space. We have a wealth of talented artists, our governments and councils should be supporting our artists by including art in public space in the planning approval process.
Well this is just a reminder that the Archibald Prize artworks are currently on exhibition at the Geelong Art Gallery. As usual, a conversation starter with a few controversial works, but mostly great artworks. The prize went to Yvette Coppersmith for her self portrait. It is a striking portrait, with a shiny gold background, great detail in every facet of the painting and attitude bursting from the image of Yvette.
There are also lots of other beautiful works. I particularly want to call out Dee Smart’s portrait of Meryl Tankard – dancer, choreographer and director. Portraits usually have a serious look, not smiling faces (because that might require teeth – they can be hard to do). But this portrait by Dee is full of smiles (no teeth) and humour. The colours, gestures and twinkle in the eyes of Meryl Tankard made me think – yes I could sit down to lunch with this woman and have a merry old time.
Also loved the work by Benjamin Aitken “Natasha” and Fiona McMonagle “Sangeeta Sandrasegar”. Their styles are different from many of the other artists, yet in the absence of wrinkles and stubble, capture both emotion and maturity of their subjects.
The children’s archibald this year has attracted more than 2,000 entries so are spread across Geelong. There is a pop-up cafe in the Geelong Art Gallery and there are two walls of children work there. Check out the works by the prize winners – WOW what talent. If you feel like shopping go to the mall for more of the children’s works.
Town Hall Gallery in Hawthorn is a really large great space for displaying a broad range of artistic work. The current exhibition “This Wild Song” (TWS) features the artwork of 27 artists – photographic portraits by Ilona Nelson of 26 significant Australian female artists. Each artist has also included one of their works. A feast of artistic endeavour.
The artists cover painting, drawing, photography, digital and video, street art, sculpture / mixed media and so on. These are not shrinking violets, they are articulate, skilled, professional artists; some of the art may push your comfort zones (although not in an offensive way).
Ilona Nelson has made it her mission to celebrate female artists. This Wild Song is a long term project so there is always a new artist being added to the existing body of works. Ilona does not do portraits by capturing a face, she explores the artists works, interviews the artist and develops a vision of how she wishes to portray the artist within the context of their arts practice. So every portrait, interview, and podcast is unique and tailored to the individual.
Visit the TWS website to explore the strength of our female artists and tap into the podcasts as well.
The Louis Joel Arts & Community Centre is located in Altona, one very short block from the beach. So a perfect day would be to visit the gallery and then go for a walk along the esplanade on the clean, creamy sand, watch the kite-surfers skipping along the water, stop for a coffee or ice-cream. The gallery often exhibits works from members of the Hobsons Bay Arts Society. There are some very talented members.
This weeks exhibition “Here & There” was of works by Robert Mancini. Rob has a love of birds and that comes through in his art, which covered native birds and migrating visitors. His works included paintings, mixed media and sculpture. There was a sense of fun and also admiration for his subject matter in his work, which sometimes included details of the habitats and distances travelled by the birds. So beautiful creations, fun creations and informative all at the same time. What is not to love.
This exhibition concluded the day after my visit unfortunately so visit Rob’s website to find out more about his work and upcoming exhibitions.
Fox Galleries is located in the Fitzroy / Collingwood arts area. A small gallery with light filled spaces and interesting exhibitions.
Merryn Trevethan has created “Ruin Nation” . She draws on Blade Runner, George Orwell, increasingly globalised cities, the digital world, surveillance and fake news to create an exhibition of futuristic urban images. The larger artworks have a bit of a sci-fi feel to the bold, over-crowded streetscapes of a future city. They are brutally architectural, have a sense of depth and drew me up close to see if there is a train or a tram or even a person hiding within the buildings. Not so. Lots of windows looking down and reflecting back on themselves. I so hope that this overcrowding of towers, people tucked away inside, is not our future.
On the other hand I feel a touch of romanticism in some of the smaller works , with their finer images and softer colours. Maybe rose coloured glasses for me.
Merryn Trevethan: “Surveilled Cities #1” 2018 Pigment Ink on archival paper Edition 1 of 5 and 1 Artist Proof 42 x 42cm (Included with artists consent)
Du Chonggang has created beautifly evocative works of birds perched atop a stack of books. Interesting juxtaposition between the two artists works but when you read the artists statements they actually do fit together. I found Du’s works bringing a smile to my face, contrasting books and birds – the tangible and familiar – against the brutal, empty windows, world of the “Ruin Nation”. Du also has messages in his work, to quote “…. as modern industrial civilisation and urban consumerism devours natural resources on an atrocious scale, the ecological balance is destroyed irreversibly. How would this kind of environment be suitable for humans to survive if birds cannot even take shelter?” Made me look at those towers of books a little differently!!
Du Chonggang: After Image No 7, 2015 oil on canvas, 71.5 x 91.5cm (included with artist consent)
The Blak Dot Gallery is an Indigenous run gallery, in a lovely location just off Sydney Road Brunswick. As well as exploring the gallery exhibitions you can also spend time exploring the local offerings in Sydney Road. Peter Waples – Crowe, a Ngarigo man was invited to create a body of work in response to the collection of colonial prints held at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Peter invited Megan Evans to provide a non-aboriginal contribution to the exhibition. Megan ‘s heritage is scottish, irish, welsh and her great grandfather was a colonist in 1872.
The exhibition is titled “Squatters and Savages” and challenges the visitor to revisit our shared history.
Peter Waples – Crowe uses simple figures and a few blunt words to describe the attitude of the colonisers to, and the impact on, the Indigenous population. This includes loss of land, life, freedom and dignity.
Megan Evans has taken every day furniture found in the genteel homes of the “squattocracy” to make a bold statement of the bloody, brutal and deadly colonisation of Australia.
The exhibition is on until 2nd September and worth a visit.
Megan Evans: Hunting Party 1 and 2 Media: Antique chairs, embroidery thread, glass beads (included with artist’s consent)
Yes, the Melbourne City Library at 253 Flinders Lane supports emerging artists and has an exhibition space on the first floor of the library. This library is just around the corner from DeGraves Street, so after a coffee pop up to the first floor and see what ‘s on.
Sarah Ubik’s exhibition is titled “SOMA”; the images are strong and evocative portraits and figurative images. Sarah “explores humankind’s relationship with nature, reproduction, sexuality and femininity.” I love that she captures a moment in time in the face of her subjects – laughter, huh, what did I do? a deep breath, a relaxing sigh. This is Sarah’s first solo exhibition and includes works in watercolour and in oil paint. The exhibition is on until 23rd August.
Sarah Ubik: “Lose Two Teeth” oil on MDF, 376 x 328mm, 2018 (Included with artists consent)
Sarah Ubik: Twenty Weeks, oil on MDF, 331 x 431mm (2018) (Included with artists consent)