Town Hall Gallery (Hawthorn)

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.

Ilona Nelson: Portrait of Merryn Trevethan, Artist


Ilona Nelson: Portrait of Freya Jobbins, Artist


Ilona Nelson: Portrat of Maree Clark, Artist


Ilona Nelson: Portrait of Michelle Hamer, Artist


Louis Joel Arts & Community Centre

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

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)



Blak Dot Gallery

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)








Melbourne City Library

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)











The Other Art Fair

The Other Art Fair  .  I am counting myself lucky that on Saturday a friend asked me if I was going to “The other art fair” – Huh?  It was on for three days from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th August and I am so glad I made it on Sunday.  What a treat.  This fair is run by Saatchi in locations around the world – Melbourne, London, Bristol, Chicago, Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Its purpose is to celebrate emerging artists in the country / region and to put artists and art-lovers in one space.  This is a fair where you can find reasonably priced art from emerging artists.  The fair was held in an old factory (now being repurposed) in Kensington. The artists were present to display their works in their own space, side by side 99 others.  It was a space full of innovation, creativity, variety and talent.  The artists were very generous in sharing what inspires them, how their practice has evolved over time, what techniques they have used.  I had to check myself to not monopolise any given artists and to move on so I could visit as many spaces as possible.

I can’t possibly go through 100 artists but I will touch on a few that I had a good chat with.   Put this event in your diary to attend next year, well worth the visit.

(If you are interested there is an app that can be downloaded to show you the full list of artists and their works.  Go to your app store and search for The Other Art Fair and then select Melbourne.)

Garth Henderson: “current works sculpted within a 3D modelling environment and presented as contemporary print form, in limited editions.”  Garth is an artist and a landscape designer.  He is inspired by the organic geometry of Australian plants.  He first started using computers 10 years ago.  Today he creates, from scratch, an image of an Australian plant that actually looks as if it has been sculpted in metal, then photographed. In his 3D environment he also applies ‘virtual lighting” until he achieves the desired light and shadow.  I can’t believe it is done on computer, and talking with him it is not a quick process (particularly the lighting effects).  His work is exquisite.

Garth Henderson:    “constructive_botanics_banksia_prionotes_01”   Virtual 3D model, presented as a limited Edition of Giclée Prints on Museum Rag Paper. (Included with artist consent)


Sarah BoultonCreates images from the heart, she doesn’t know what the work will be until it is finished.  There are no polished straight lines here, the lines are organic and accompanied by curves and circles. She uses mixed media (e.g. ink, acrylic etc) and successfully meshes strong vibrant hues with softer pastel shades.  I love her colour selection and the organic nature of her art.

Pilar Basa: creates beautiful botanical illustrations of Australian native flowers.  Her images capture the vibrant colours of our flowers and the subtle, silvery greens and greys of the leaves.  The works are created on quality white archival paper.  Preparation is everything – being sure of your design / layout of the subject and its position on the paper.  It needs a very steady hand and mastery of the medium, a white paper background is very unforgiving.  No chance to paint over a boo boo.  An unplanned drip of ink means painting another leaf or flower.

Pilar Basa: “The flowers I found in my room” giclee fine art print, 2018.  (Included with artists consent)


Rachel Rovay: these works are an explosion of colour and while they may appear chaotic, take a minute to step back and soften your view, don’t focus on particular shapes – you might (not always) find a figure within.  My favourite looked like a wonderful work in thick, glossy enamel – it wasn’t. Rachel uses a special resin (does not fade / yellow) on board.

Grant Stewart: grant creates work using robotic devices to draw his art.  Grant has created a program that gives some limited instruction as to what can be done, what is not to be done and then leaves the rest to the computer to determine.  The computer program manoeuvres a robotic device holding a pencil to generate the abstract images.   The images displayed were crafted from very fine lines in close proximity creating contours and a sense of movement.  Think of a fine fabric floating in a breeze.  Grant captured interest because he had a set up with the robotic device in action creating a new image.  This image was the antithesis of fabric in a breeze.  This was all straight lines over a large space and it was amazing how random the work appeared to be.















The Substation

“The Substation” is a wonderful 100 year old building in Newport and is one of the oldest and largest of existing substations.  Most of the original equipment has been removed and the building now serves as a not-for-profit art centre.  The building has multiple rooms that serve as gallery space and are perfect for the  current exhibition, which is on until 8th September 2018 – go see it.

Alisdair MacIndoe (Alisdair Macindoe’s Creative Portfolio) exhibition is titled  “Noncompete”.  This is installation artwork delivering a unique visual and sound experience in each of several rooms.   The artists statement “reflects on the idea that digital technology is a new life-form we are currently gestating. NONCOMPETE explores the inevitable point where technology has agency and its own agenda.”  A scary thought but fortunately the art is engaging, not scary.

Alisdair is a clever chap – the art draws you in to visually examine each work, teases you because it appears to respond to your presence, sometimes faster than others, starts moving behind your back, sounds from subdued or to klaxon!  I found myself actively engaged with the works – what did he use to make it, chasing which bit might move next, whats happening behind, above  or right in front of me.  You are engaged visually, aurally and intellectually – this is art in motion, it draws you in and it just happens to looks interesting too.

Photo:       Davina A Lias
Artwork:  Alisdair Macindoe (Included with artists consent)


Photo:       Davina A Lias
Artwork:  Alisdair Macindoe
Photo:       Davina A Lias (This is a component of a larger work – my favourite work)
Artwork:  Alisdair Macindoe


Footscray Community Arts Centre

Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) is an active centre for community arts across painting (exhibitions and classes), dance, music, installation art.  The major exhibition room is the Roslyn Smorgon Gallery – walk between the Happy River Cafe and the FCAC building to reception and the gallery is left of reception.

Until July 28th, they have an installation work – video and screen based titled “Before After”.  Don’t be afraid to ask the staff to turn up the volume so your can hear the artists story, also the script is available in hard copy.

Artist Nikki Lam has considered her family history and created an interesting and engaging visual artwork.  Her family lives in Hong Kong – which once was English but is now Chinese.  In Hong Kong her grandparents were not English and her parents were not Chinese.  Now in Australia a further element is imposed.  A multi-lingiual child born in Hong Kong, living in Australia with her own memories of before Australia, plus generational history / stories of those other times, cultures and lived experience.  This includes now living on land not ceded by it’s aboriginal owners. With this rich history, how to determine ‘identity’ in this new country.  How do we adapt or assimilate? What sense of ‘identity’ is imposed by others?

No photo’s for Nikki’s work – you need to see it on screen and listen to her poetic pondering. The spoken word is essential to her art. I enjoyed this exhibition and wish I had found it earlier.

The Lost Ones (Ballarat)

The Lost Ones Gallery is a contemporary art gallery that also has a Basement Bar which serves fine spirits, wine and food as well as live music.  There is a thriving arts community in Ballarat.  This is a lovely old building with a large light filled gallery space on the ground floor.  Until August 5th you can enjoy an exhibition by Steve Sedgwick.  Steve is a local Ballarat artist who paints “en plein air” (out in the open – you have to brave to paint out in the open during a Ballarat winter!) and in studio.

Steve Sedgwick‘s exhibition is titled “Painted Land”.  The en plain air works are identifiable as landscapes and painted in acrylic (dries much quicker than oil paint).  These smaller  outdoor works capture that great sense of space and time in our landscape.  When he returns to the studio memory takes over, the canvases get bigger, the brush strokes fatter  and the landscape is re-calibrated into colour blocks and lines.

The outdoor and studio works are positioned side by side which makes for an interesting juxtaposition of time and place.

Steve Sedgwick:

“Between Light” Oil on Canvas 61cm x 61cm.  (Included with Gallery consent on behalf of artist)


“Mungo Twilight” 2017, oil on canvas 89cm x 41cm (Included with Gallery consent on behalf of artist)


“Lake Mungo Big Sky” 2017 oil on canvas 102cm x 76cm. (Included with Gallery consent on behalf of artist)





Art House Gallery (Ballarat)

The Art House Gallery in Ballarat is located in the City Centre Arcade off Sturt Street.  Exhibitions were changing when I arrived (my bad timing) nonetheless there have a variety of artists works including some previously seen (search this site for Sarah Paxton)

Ralf Kempken’s  exhibition is focused on streetscapes with, if you look closely, some great identifiable locations in Melbourne.  His use of colour and light (or absence of colour) draw you through his streetscape and create dramatic contrast.  His technique is also new to me, described by Ralf as “hybrid stencil” it creates a very interesting effect.   Even though I feel familiar, at home with his subject matter, his technique has me looking at the familiar with new eyes as it draws me in to look closer, wondering how does he do that?  I also recommend a look at his web site, Ralf obviously creates big art, great public installations in metal.  I will get out and about to find more of his public works beautifying our city (we need more great public art).

Ralf Kempken: Shady Cafe #10 Red. (Included with artist consent)

Ralph_Kempen No2_201807 (shady Cafe10)