Artist Societies

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.

Ballarat Society of Artists

Berwick Artist Society

Brighton Art Society

Contemporary Art Society

Hawthorn Art Society 

Heidelberg Art Society

Malvern Art Society

Mt Evelyn & Yarra Valley Art Society

Peninsula Arts Society

Victorian Art Society


The Pastel Society of Victoria 

The Society of Folk and Decorative Artists Victoria

Australian Society for Miniature Art Victoria

Wildlife Art Society

Association of Sculptors Victoria



Point Leo Estate (Mornington Peninsula)

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.







The Archibalds – Geelong

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 (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