Chisholm Excursion to Melbourne CBD
Kings Ari, 171 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Artists’ Run Initiative
“The Trophy Shop”
As if determined to run us off our feet, we were set up for a day wandering from one end of town to the other to see a wide variety of art. First up was a group exhibition by recent graduates from RMIT who have set up a shop front gallery and are bringing attention to it with work in this fairly hard to find first floor gallery in King Street, Melbourne. Hard to find because the only thing from the street that you see is a door with the number on it, so the venue lost points for me straight away for having a poor street profile. The very old stairs to the first floor weren’t too OHS friendly either, so disabled would have trouble attending.
Once in the space, I found it to have positives and negatives. There is good natural light in the front room, the works are nicely spaced out and displayed with good lighting elsewhere. The venue is clean, but don’t look at the ceiling, it is unlined and that is something that I am not keen on. I would also have like some seating in the middle of the rooms to help take my notes and look at the work in comfort.
The two artists gave a friendly and informative artist talk about their exhibition and how they like to work to produce their paintings. They have very good work ethics and I enjoyed listening to them and asking questions of them. I had the opportunity to have a talk with one afterward and found him to be a very approachable young artist.
The works on display varied in quality, I felt. The work in the front gallery looked of a better and more thought out finish, even though very contemporary and not my style at all. Some of the paintings in the back rooms however, I felt could have been done by a child in kindergarten. I found it difficult to see any understanding of colour theory, composition, tone, design or quality finish in them.
I was not too surprised to learn that RMIT has little drawing instruction and traditional methods of learning to draw and paint are not in the bachelor degree course. The lack of training in areas that I feel are basic for professional artists to learn, even if they do branch off into contemporary and abstract expressionism etc, is a reason why I am going to be so careful about where I complete my BFA and why I am vetting universities very stringently.
A final note about this venue. I would have liked to see some artists statements, notes describing the subject and titles etc next to the works. Without someone there to talk about them, I would have been totally in the dark.
Victorian State Library
“Rome: Piranesi’s Vision”
Etchings from C.18th-19thC Italy
I love going to this building, it has a grandeur about it that I fell at home in and a beauty that makes me want to stay longer to see if I can find more about it. The exhibition of etchings from Italy was I feel in a perfect venue because of this. Classical architecture with classic artworks of some of the most interesting Roman ruins I have seen in a while.
As I like to draw in fine liner, and have done so most of my life, doodling classic old ruins from Greece, Rome, Egypt or other ancient cultures from all over the world whenever I was bored somewhere, this was a great opportunity to see similar looking works done by some great artists of the past. The print, or etching methods can be translated to pen very easily, so I took great care to see how the tonal values were interpreted and translated into lines and dots to give the impression of perspective and distance.
The understanding of architecture and perspective in these works is just mind blowing! This is not taking into account how long it would have taken to produce each piece, as some are very large.
For any one who loves to draw, who loves history or archeology these etchings are very interesting and informative.
I like this venue as well as the previous one. It has a lovely inviting entrance and a stunning foyer which gives the impression of quality straight away. The rooms are large and well lit with plenty of room to look at any artwork. Again, I would like to see seating somewhere for people to sit and look at some of the works a bit longer.
The sculptures were of a wide variety giving everyone something to like. I found a beautiful surreal looking bronze horse by Jeffrey Wilkinson and a “freeform” bronze by Clement Meademore (rellie of a friend of mine!) to be a couple of my favourites.
I even liked the plaster cast of part of the Elgin Marbles (I think) on the wall to be very interesting. I was given an idea about a future painting from one piece in one of the smaller rooms, something which I will keep on the back burner for the moment.
Overall a fairly quick visit but one that I enjoyed.
“Steenhuffel” Stephen Bush
The Potter Gallery is another place I enjoy visiting. The staff are polite and helpful, the venue is well laid out… and they have a permanent exhibition of antiquities!
No matter what I am there for I can finish of the visit by going to visit some oldies but goodies in the antiquities room. On this occasion I did just that.
The exhibition of paintings were quite mixed with some looking so busy with high key colours that I couldn’t find a place to rest my eyes or a focal point to start my journey around the painting. Some were so bright I just couldn’t look at them for very long. In some ways it was like gong on a trip in the “way back machine” to the 1960s and early 70s where bright pinks, purples and lime greens were in fashion.
I did find one painting I really liked, it was of an old typewriter. It had lovely tonal values and lighting, even though of a rather ordinary object, as a painting I felt it worked very well, even better than a couple with horses in and if you know me that would be a surprise as my love of all things horsie goes back to my earliest childhood.
The series of paintings with historic references all done in one colour but tonally painted also gained my attention and I thought that the artist showed lovely drawing abilities in these.
The Dax Centre
“Healing Ways” Indigenous Art
The final venue for the day was also in a building that I found difficult to locate. Melbourne University is like a rabbit warren to the initiated, and I always need a map to get around. Even with that I still got turned around, happily I must add as I found the left over front of the old bank and the amazing undercover car park built under the park that it now serves as the entrance to. WOW, gorgeous. The iPhone came out to take photos of the classical sculptures on each side of the beautifully sculpted archway. The vaulted interior of the car park made me feel like I was entering another world! I didn’t know you could get so excited over a car park.
Any way I diverge. On to the Dax Centre, which I eventually found. This small venue takes up the corner of a larger building on the Royal Parade side of the campus. I was greeted with a smile as I entered which is always good and then left alone to look around. To my delight they had comfortable seating so I could sit and take notes!
The works were well displayed with good lighting even though I am not keen on the look of the modern interior design and architecture of the building. The works themselves varied a lot similarly to the first ones I looked at today. The more traditional work looked more thought out and professional than the contemporary ones. I couldn’t see long term value in the use of glitter and craft materials in some works that looked more like handicraft than art. The traditional use of skins or dot painting were more inviting and looked more planned or designed and I was happy to stop and look at these for a lot longer than the others.
This was a very long and tiring day. I staggered to the tram stop and couldn’t wait to get back to the comfort of my couch. Honestly I think that half the amount on the day would have been enough as after a while things stop sinking in.
My thanks to Jon Hatfield for suggesting a nice little pub to have lunch which didn’t break the bank. I thought I may have a chance to chat more with the two young artists from the first exhibition, or with my tutors that attended the excursion, but unfortunately that didn’t really happen. I was at the end of the table and a bit isolated. I am not always sure if I am butting in to their personal time when in these situations either, so I guess I stayed fairly quiet.
Overall a pretty full on day and I did come away with some ideas and instruction about where to take my recent line drawings in pen for my books for the Advanced Diploma.