Yes, art still matters…

24 02 2016

… it’s just that I haven’t had a great deal of spare time to write about it. Art, that is. Or not here, at least.


I am sorry.

Self-flagellating as we speak. What can I say? I have no really compelling reasons to explain my absence from this sadly neglected blog other than to say I have been very, very busy. With this. And this. And a little bit of this.

But the demise of the Melbourne Art Fair was too big an event to ignore. If you’re interested, head over to The Conversation to read my perspectives on the situation.


The White stuff.

24 02 2013

Image: White Night Melbourne via

What makes us human? We do something like this just for the sake of it, and love it… just because.

Last night, 300,000 Melburnians flooded into the CBD and embraced the inaugural ‘White Night’ arts festival.

I’m a rusted-on cynic. It’s rare for me to experience a flush of unconditional pride in my city and the people who live in it. But, today? Yeah. I love every last, crazy, one of you.

Bring on White Night 2014.

News just in: Melbourne’s major attractions – “Shopping!””Sport!””Sunshine!”. Art, shmart.

8 11 2010

“Shopping”?…”Talking to our great sporting identities”??… “Enjoying the beautiful Victorian weather”??? That’s it, Prime Minister? Is that really the best you can do when asked to name some of the activities Secretary of State Hilary Clinton might wish to enjoy on her visit to Melbourne (link to video moment here, at 1.13, via The Age and Channel 10 news)? Well, she’s a lady and all that, so SURELY she loves to shop, right? What woman doesn’t? Please. So, she’ll squeeze  a little ‘shopping’ in between the “top level talks about defence and trade”? Somewhere in there, we’ll work in a few be-medalled sports stars and a healthy level of exposure to our wonderful spring sunshine, and there you have it – the picture-perfect Melbourne experience.

Would it have been too big an ask to pop a little mention of Melbourne’s art and culture into that screen grab? “Oh, we’ll be zipping over to Fed Square to take a peek at the Indigenous Collection at the NGV”, or “We’re taking a tour of some of the City of Melbourne’s world-renowned street and public art zones”. But no. Shopping, sport and sunshine. Don’t get me wrong – I love many of our great sporting traditions. And Melbourne in spring? Sublime. But, really – what happened to celebrating our diverse and exciting culture?

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oi, Oi, Oi. Cue: heavy sigh.

(image via The Sydney Morning Herald


23 06 2010

Look! Sad-eyed puppy!

Mea culpa. Apologies for being so slack with the posts of late. But I have good reason. Things have been very busy in the offline world. But the outcome of all this hard work is that if you’re in Melbourne, or have reason to be here on 15-16 July, I’m co-convening a symposium at the University of Melbourne with speakers drawn from across the art world talking about all things current in the Australian art industry – from fakes and forgeries, to the sustainability of the Aboriginal art market, and the potential effects of the resale royalty legislation and the proposed changes in the Cooper Review on the market. Artists, dealers, auction house representatives, legislators, academics, all going head-to-head. It’s going to be juicy. Keynote addresses are to be given by the Minister for the Arts, Peter Garrett, AM, MP, and Sam Leach, the winner of the 2010 Archibald and Wynne Prizes, and there’s an associated Melbourne Conversations event at Fed Square on the evening of Thursday 15 July. More details can be found hereincluding how to register. More updates to follow.

Obey! Shepard Fairey Plasters Hosier Lane

11 06 2010

And so, another instalment in my series of poor-quality photos – this time taken in the rain with my phone. But, I couldn’t help myself. Until Never (the gallery) is running an exhibition of noted American street artist Shepard Fairey’s work at the moment, and the wall that leads from the corner of Hosier Lane to the gallery’s entrance is completely plastered with a veritable gallery of Fairey’s most iconic images. It’s quite a sight to see.

The juxtaposition of the posters in their natural habitat with their presentation in the 2nd floor, white-cube gallery space, is curious and telling. On what was a chilly, drizzly Melbourne afternoon, the posters in the lane, which as you can see have already attracted the attention of taggers, were torn, discoloured and peeling off the wall in places. They have a texture and immediacy to them – you know they will continue to deteriorate, exposed as they are to the elements and the activities of other makers of marks on walls. Wait much longer, and there won’t be much left to see. And what better way to speak of commodification, dehumanisation and the industrial machine than to  churn out images on paper intended to be pasted on walls in the urban jungle and destined to end up buried under layers of street-art detritus, painted over by diligent council clean-up teams, or squished into great, coloured gobs of soggy torn paper? Knowing that these artworks are ephemeral makes the messages they communicate all the more powerful. And then, upstairs in the gallery, posters are transformed into commodities. Not that I should be complaining – I couldn’t resist buying an Obey Giant print. Yes, I can be a nasty, acquisitive beastie. But watching the transition of street art from the cobbled laneways to the austere confines of the commercial gallery space is intriguing. Relying, as it has, on subversive means of communication and guerilla tactics, how will the movement adapt to a radically altered environment?

Here comes the sun… doo doo doo doo…

11 06 2010

Fed Square PhotoFor those of you who have asked how to channel your inner sun-god/dess, the iPhone/iPod/iSanitaryPad application you need to download to drive Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Solar Equation, now showing at Fed Square, is up and running. Detailed instructions for finding the free app can be found here. Have yourself a blast of a time conjuring up a solar flare or a scatter of sun spots. Right. That’s enough of that.


Sun spots before my eyes: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer at Fed Square

4 06 2010

OK. Just back from the launch of aforementioned Rafael Lozano-Hemmer installation, Solar Equation for Fed Square’s Light in Winter Festival. Hot off the presses, an extremely poor-quality photo from my little digital camera that only communicates a tiny sense of how extraordinary the experience is.

The projection on the three-dimensional sphere pulses and swirls – as impossible as it sounds, its scale and luminosity is such that it actually seems to warm you. I had dinner at an outdoor table at one of the restaurants in the Square, and kept doing a double-take at the looming orb above us. It really has to be seen to be believed. And, as amazing as it looks from the Flinders Street Station approach, it’s even more stunning when ‘happened’ upon – at one point, I wandered off behind the building now housing ABBA World (!?), and rounded a corner to find the sun peeking out at me from behind the edge of the building.

Best of all, I had a go at an iPad control that allowed me to interact with the display, changing colours and solar ‘seasons’. Apparently it will be possible to download a free app for iPhone or iPad so that we can all channel our inner supreme being, and control the sun at will when we’re within WiFi range of the display (there’s a delay on the application for a couple of days, but if you search for ‘Solar Equation’ in the Apps store early next week, I’m told you should be able to find it. In the meantime, if you go to the fine Fed Square restaurant, Il Pomodoro, and hand over your credit card for security, there are ten iPhones uploaded with the app, and you can have a play for free).

My only regret? That my first live encounter with Solar Equation didn’t occur late at night after a few too many liquid refreshments. Because that would be truly mind-blowing.