Below you'll find your art planner for the weekend – but if you're looking further ahead, check out our list of art exhibitions to see in Melbourne this month.
Recommended: the best art galleries in Melbourne.
Batik – an Indonesian technique of dyeing fabric – was introduced to Indigenous women in 1971, and went on to play a pivotal role in the development of contemporary central desert art, placing women at the forefront of the burgeoning market and paving the way for working on canvas. Many of the women who began working in batik went on to become renowned painters, including Emily Kam Kngwarray, Peggy Napurrula Poulson, Tjunkaya Tapaya, Unurupa Kulyuru and Tjunkiya Napaltjarri. This exhibition brings more than 60 batik works from the National Gallery of Victoria’s collection to illustrate the unique and distinct batik styles of Pitjantjatjara, Anmatyerr, Alyawarr, Walpiri and Pintupi artists, and to examine the legacy of the technique on future generations of Indigenous desert artists.
There's a good chance you don't know Haroon Mirza's name just yet, but the London-based artist is making a huge impression overseas with his artworks, which combine installation, electricity and a frequently startling use of sound. This exhibition is Mirza's first solo show in Australia, and will utilise all of ACCA's gallery spaces as one giant musical instrument. From there, other artists will be invited into the space to collaborate. Read our interview with Mirza about all you'll experience in the exhibition.
You know the saying, but have you ever actually done it? Walked a mile in somebody else's shoes, that is. That's the concept behind A Mile in My Shoes, a storytelling experience that's travelled all around the world and is making its local debut on the forecourt of Arts Centre Melbourne. It's a simple enough idea – every person who visits the giant pop-up shoebox is given a stranger's shoes and an mp3 player. As you set off on a stroll in their shoes (don't worry, they clean them), you'll hear the story of the original owner of those shoes and take a moment to connect. A Mile in My Shoes is by the Empathy Museum, an organisation that creates unique experiences to help audiences see the world through someone else's eyes. When we saw the work in Perth in 2016, we were surprised at how moving and intimate it was to give yourself over to the stranger's stories. All together, there'll be 35 pairs of shoes in the Melbourne season, and they're all new stories collected specifically for Melbourne. So we'd recommend paying a repeat visit and seeing what you'll score in this lottery of footwear.
UPDATE 01/10/19: Due to popular demand, Rain Room has been extended until January 2020. It’s pretty common to get caught in the rain while walking around Melbourne. What’s less common is to get caught in the rain while walking around indoors in Melbourne – and even weirder when you realise that the rain is inexplicably falling everywhere except on you. Melbourne is the first city in the southern hemisphere to host ‘Rain Room’, an immersive artwork by London-based collective Random International. ‘Rain Room’ is one of Random International’s most famous works and has previously shown at the Barbican in London, MoMA in New York and at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai. Guests are invited into a darkened room filled with continuous rain. No need to bring an umbrella though because this rain won’t dampen your clothes or spirits. Thanks to motion sensors in the ceiling ‘Rain Room’ detects where visitors are and ensures a dry six-metre radius around guests. The artwork has been brought to Melbourne thanks to a collaboration between the currently closed ACMI and uber-luxe hotel Jackalope. Until January 31, you can experience the installation for yourself at the Jackalope Pavillion, a pop-up space on the corner of Acland and Jackson streets in St Kilda. Tickets are available now.
Melbourne’s west is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country and home to a whole range of vibrant communities and artists making edgy, provocative and inspiring work. That’s why Footscray Community Arts Centre launched Due West Arts Festival last year to celebrate just about every aspect of Melbourne’s west with an eclectic and wide-ranging program of arts and entertainment. The festival is returning for its second year from November 15 to 24, with an even bigger program, headed up by local contemporary artists and some international acts. The festival is designed to be properly inclusive, meaning there really is something for everybody. There are a whole bunch of free events and the most expensive ticket is only $35. So where do you begin? If diving into a program of more than 40 events is a little intimidating, here are some of our highlights: The free Opening Night party at Footscray Community Arts Centre is a good place to start and get your bearings. Led by Indigenous elders and artists from the west, the party will feature free art and music, and audiences will be invited to participate in making a new sound work. Footscray by Night (A Second Call) will take over the Nicholson Street Mall with karaoke videos and performance, in tribute to the Little Saigon market, which was lost to a fire in 2016. It’s the work of Hoang Tran Nguyen, designed to pose questions about gentrification of community spaces. In Children of the Evolution, youngsters will be armed
Visiting South Australia’s Flinders Ranges last year, Mexico-born, Berlin-based artist Mariana Castillo Deball was fascinated by what she saw. Known as the Ediacara Hills, the area is famous for a group of fossils so significant that they spawned their own geological age, the Ediacaran Period, some 635 to 542 million years ago. Drawing on her knowledge of anthropology, archeology and paleontology, Castillo Deball used ink rubbings to capture impressions of the fossils she found there, which in turn became the foundation for her new exhibition, Replaying Life’s Tape. Incorporating immersive textile dioramas, linocut-silicone prints, drawings, photographs and fossil casts, the exhibition casts a light on a part of history so distant it is impossible to imagine. It’s the first time the artist has exhibited in Australia.
Anna Schwartz Gallery celebrates its 35th anniversary this year with a landmark exhibition that brings together work from more than 50 Australian and international artists. Ranging from the late '80s to today. Never the Same River draws on the history of four Australian galleries past and present – the now defunct United Artists and City Galleries in Melbourne, and Anna Schwartz Galleries in Sydney (now closed) and Melbourne – to trace the ways in which artists engage with or against the social and political contexts of the time. Among the 59 artists featured are plenty of big names, including Joel Elenberg, Janet Laurence, Mike Parr, Anne Zahalka, Clement Meadmore, Antony Gormley, Shaun Gladwell and Yinka Shonibare. There will also be a public program of events running alongside the exhibition.
You might remember Meagan Streader as the artist behind the intriguing light installation 'Slow Rinse' at Dark Mofo this year, or from her solo exhibitions Fold in Time (2018) or U-Bend Pillar (2017). As one of Australia’s brightest (sorry) young artists, her site specific installations have also been seen as far away as Kerala, Amsterdam and New York City. Now, for the first time, MARS Gallery presents Streader’s new solo exhibition, Silent Structures. Streader will be taking a step away from her installations created from electroluminescent wires at MARS Gallery, encouraging viewers to reconsider their perception and relationship to the existing space, and how light determines the way in which we navigate the world, both physically and socially.
Venetian glass is known across the world for its vibrant colour, elaborate designs and exquisite craftsmanship, honed over centuries by traditional glassblowers on the Venetian island of Murano. In Liquid Light, the National Gallery of Victoria brings together their extensive collection of glass pieces to explore the development of the Venetian glass tradition, from the Golden Age of the 16th century to the postmodern creations of the Memphis Group. Highlights include a Games of Thrones-worthy 17th century goblet, complete with intertwining dragons coiling around the stem, and a contemporary patchwork vase by renowned Murano glass artist Fulvio Bianconi.
His name might not be as well known as some of his contemporaries, but Roger Kemp was one of Australia’s greatest abstractionists. Best known for his large-scale tapestries that hang in the great hall of the National Gallery of Victoria, during his lifetime Kemp eschewed figurative and landscape art in favour of a more metaphysical approach that sought to “make visible the invisible”. Now the National Gallery of Victoria will host the first major retrospective exhibition of Kemp’s work since his death in 1987. Developed in conjunction with the artist’s estate, the exhibition includes several works that have never been shown publicly before, and traces Kemp’s evolution as an artist, from his early Cezanne-inspired sketches to the geometric, stained glass-like paintings by which he made his name.
Prefer your art outdoors?
Sure, street art covers almost every nook and cranny of our creative, colourful city, but there are more highly concentrated clusters than others. These are the street art hotspots that any self-respecting 'grammer should be snapping: the city's ten best street mural hotspots, in all their spray-painted laneway glory.