The National Gallery of Victoria is usually one of my first pit-stops when I’m back in Melbourne. I’ve spent many a blissful afternoon there on art-class pilgrimages or to take a breather from my day.
Last December on a trip to visit the parentals I was lured back to the NGV by Melbourne Now, an expansive exhibition celebrating the latest art, architecture, design and performance from Melbourne, which kicked off in November. Instagram pics of artworks by friends and artists got me excited enough to make this exhibition a must-see, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The exhibition drew 18,000 visitors in its opening weekend alone, the museum’s biggest opening weekend in a decade. Spread out across the NGV’s two spaces, the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia and NGV International, the ambitious exhibition represents over 300 artists and designers in more than 175 individual and group presentations, as well as a suite of special projects which extend from the visual arts to architecture and design, dance and choreography, performance art and sound. To accomplish this a collaborative curatorial structure was employed, involving more than twenty NGV curators working across disciplinary and departmental areas. Quite a feat!
I was thrilled to see the works of so many friends and familiar names exhibited in this landmark show. I loved local taxidermy artist Julia de Ville‘s beautiful gothic room. Lined with black flocked wallpaper and framed paintings from the gallery’s collection, de Ville’s taxidermy creations are placed throughout the space in an exquisite walk-in nature morte banquet. My father was so moved he wanted to enquire about stuffing his beloved chihuahua when her time comes.
Local fashion designer, Toni Maticevski, presents a triptych of ghostly sculptural dresses suspended in the gallery’s staircase. Multi-media artist Patricia Piccinini‘s confronting uncannily life-like silicone sculpture, ‘The Carrier’, is another highlight. Piccinini made a name for herself with works that explore the intersection of science and nature, and art and the environment. She continues to explore her interest in biotechnology with this almost alien animal/human hybrid, previously exhibited at Haunch of Venison.
The Hotham Street Ladies, a collective of five female artists, present three installations of domestic settings made of buttercream icing which draw visitors like bees to honey to its sweet sugary smell. The chairs, wallpaper, rugs, cushion covers, television, everything in the installations is a sugary confection. It had me running to the nearest cafe for a cupcake break.
NGV Senior Curator, Max Delany, says the exhibition serves to celebrate “the way that artists and designers influence the city, how they contribute to the culture in which we live, to the kind of community we want to be and values we might have.” Populist? Sure! And why not? It’s a fun, dynamic and accessible way to engage with the local contemporary art scene and explore the creativity and talent on offer in the Melbourne. See, there’s more to Melbourne than an awesome music scene and the best lattes!
Don’t miss out! On until 23 March 2014 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, and the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square.
For more info visit: www.ngv.vic.gov.au/melbournenow
© Diana d’Arenberg and post-ism, 2014.