Melbourne's best art shows
The half-yearly Makers and Shakers Market is back on for April, showcasing a host of great emerging designers at Coburg Town Hall. This curated event will feature over 60 stalls selling homewares, food and lifestyle products, including St Meringue (featuring Masterchef's Emelia Jackson and Sam Goodwin), Billy Van Creamy, Toasta Food Truck, Shortstop, Nanna Woo, Mary Mary Floristry Studio, Arcadia Scott Ceramics and heaps more. Plus there'll be a free paper craft workshop from 11am-2pm. Entry is $2 and kids under 12 are free.
The town of Dunolly will be introduced to top Australian artist Deborah Halpern in her exhibition at Dunolly Courthouse. Halpern's practice focuses on sculpture and works with paper, fabric, fused glass and ceramics to create large works that capture Australia's larrikin spirit. For years her sculpture 'Angel' lived outside the National Gallery of Victoria (it's since been relocated to Birrarung Marr), while her work 'Ophelia' welcomes visitors to Southgate. After the exhibition Halpern will also be working with local artists and the Dunolly community to create a large public sculpture.
Fashion can be a force for social change, and nothing motivates those who want to change the world more than being told "you can't do that". This exhibition will celebrate six Australian fashion figures who were told "you can't do that" and did it anyway – with results that changed things forever. Stella Dare, Prue Acton, Lois Briggs, Jenny Bannister, Christopher Graf and Andreja Pejić used rejection to fuel their creativity, blazing a trail for those who came after them. The exhibition will include shop window-style displays and original clothes from the designers. Historical and modern catwalk footage will also be included.
This exhibition showcases finalists from the five editions of the biennial (and defunct as of 2017) Basil Sellers Art Prize, a $100,000 prize for artworks dealing with the subject of sport and sporting culture. The line-up reads like a who’s-who of Australian artists, with a few emerging and lesser-known names as well: Tony Albert, Richard Bell, Lauren Brincat, Jon Campbell, Daniel Crooks, Tarryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont, Shaun Gladwell, Josie Kunoth Petyarre and Dinni Kunoth Kemarre, Richard Lewer, Fiona McMonagle, Kerrie Poliness, Khaled Sabsabi, Gabrielle de Vietri, and Gerry Wedd.
The fashions at Creative Country Couture are nothing like those at your local boutique. The ingenuitive designers participating in the showcase have used only agricultural materials to realise their fashions. The garments are completely wearable and have been a highlight of the Elmore Field Days for some time. Better still, the display of inventive outfits is entry by donation, so it’s one of cheaper ways to get a hit of art or fashion (or farming) in Bendigo.
From March 31 to the end of April ten tiny towns in the Central Goldfields region of Victoria will be highlighting their most creative citizens and venues. The Tiny Towns Arts Trail allows locals and tourists alike to explore art through workshops, exhibitions and even a fashion show. The ten participating towns include Dunolly, Maryborough, Newstead, Clunes, Talbot, Eddington, Avoca, Adeliade Lead, Tarnagulla and Bealiba. A total of 40 different artists will participating in the arts trail such as top sculptor Deborah Halpern (whose work has been featured outside the NGV and at Southgate) and stylist Bianca Flint. You can get hands on during the Tiny Towns Arts Trail with a mosaic workshop or sit back and enjoy a sustainable fashion show. Creative kids have the chance to make a kooky wire insect sculpture or you can capture the beauty of your pooch with a dog portrait painting workshops. For the full line-up of events visit the Tiny Towns Arts Trail Facebook page.
War Pictures: Australians at the Cinema will see the Goldfields transformed into a cinema so guests can see how the war was depicted on the screen during WWI. A collaborative project between ACMI and the National Film and Sound archives, the exhibition will include media that was meant to inform, influence and entertain Australians during the 1914-18 war period. Expect more than 30 silent films, newsreels, shorts and propaganda pieces.
The populous Mexican capital comes under the microscope in the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art's exhibition exploring the work of the 12 of the city’s leading contemporary artists. Expect boldly personal works and art that speaks to a time and place known as much for its rich cultural output as its position as Latin America's strongest economy. The exhibition is the work of Chris Sharp, an independent writer and curator based in Mexico City. He said: "A city, it could be argued, is the sum of its portrayals. The more it is depicted, the more it enters the symbolic and global imaginary, as both what a city is and what it can be. It has been claimed that if Paris was the capital of the 19th century, and New York the capital of the 20th, then Mexico City is the capital of the 21st." The line-up of artists include people who live in the city, have lived in the city, or have made a big impact on frequent visits: Francis Alÿs, Andrew Birk, Ramiro Chaves, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Chelsea Culprit, Ektor Garcia, Yann Gerstberger, Jaki Irvine, Kate Newby, Isabel Nuño de Buen, Melanie Smith and Martin Soto Climent.
Bendigo Art Gallery is digging back into its collection and inviting contemporary artists to reimagine ten works from its 19th and early 20th century Australian and European collection. Not only will the artists reimagine the pieces in new forms – the exhibition includes works using performance, sound, film, painting and textiles – but they'll be reimagining these histories and reflecting on how the world has changed since the artworks were originally created. The works will be installed throughout the contemporary and heritage courts of the gallery. The exhibition is curated by Jessica Bridgfoot and the artists are: Denis Chapman, Gabrielle de Vietri, FAMILY FIRST! (Devon Ackermann & Paul Yore), Juan Ford, Andrew Goodman, Bridie Lunney, Phuong Ngo, Jacques Soddell, Christian Thompson and Seecum Cheung, Maike Hemmers, Pilar Mata Dupont, Isabelle Sully and Flora Woudstra.
It's frequently said that Australians don't know or care much about their own history, and have little understanding of what occurred during colonisation. But the artists who were creating work on both sides of the black-white divide captured extraordinary landscapes, scenes of colonial developments and scenes of conflict that offer a colourful glimpse into our frequently dark past. These dual exhibitions show the collision of western and Indigenous art and trace how an Australian artistic expression came to be. Colony: Australia 1770–1861 looks at the western art from the era, showing how the colonists viewed what was to them an unusual and new land. Colony: Frontier Wars looks at Indigenous art created in response to colonialism over the last two centuries. Both exhibitions are free and both are at the NGV's Federation Square gallery.
Want some laughs?
Some of the world's funniest people descend on Melbourne every autumn for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. With more than 600 artists performing at venues around the city, it can be daunting to choose what to see. Never fear – we have spoken to four performers about what audiences can expect from their shows, plus what other shows are worth checking out.