Get out of town! 5 Regional Galleries worth visiting…


Ok, so the first one off the ranks is Burrinja situated in the leafy Hills suburb of Upwey. So its not exactly regional but a good pit stop if you’re on your way up further into the Yarra Ranges.

In the last few years Burrinja has had an upgrade to their theatre and carparking facilities.

Operating as not-for-profit gallery, Burrinja houses art, artist studios and has all sorts of live performance. They also have a cafe/restaurant and a kids playground area.


The annual Dandenong Ranges Open studios Festival is on this weekend. Makers from around the hills will open their studio doors to the public. See the brochure here.


Shepparton Art Museum 


Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) will present both new and major existing works by highly regarded Melbourne-based artist Greg Creek in its leading winter exhibition The Desktop Drawings from 30 May to 9 August.

The catalyst for this exhibition was SAM’s acquisition in 2014 of The Melbourne Desktop Drawing, originally commissioned by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in 2003.

Shepparton Art Museum Director Kirsten Paisley said:

‘Securing The Melbourne Desktop Drawing for SAM has been very exciting due to the scale and importance of this extraordinary work.

 ‘This exhibition provides the first opportunity to really understand a major part of Creek’s practice, in the desktop drawings. Initially beginning as the throw away blotting sheets for Creek’s large allegorical oil paintings, the desktop works have since become a focus of his practice, significant in their own right. The exhibition will also present ChatterShapes, a 52m wall-based work previously shown only in Scotland, and a body of approximately 40 new drawings Greg is making specifically for SAM’s show, that explore Love, Death and Politics.

Greg Creek: The Desktop Drawings will map associations with a life-time of remembrances, knowing, observances and longing. The exhibition works like a junk shop of ideological symbolism whereby the act of collectivism, architecture, language, consumerism, national politics and daily life all become the one subject, a poetics of life.’

Created on modest scaled desks and yet sometimes beguiling by their incredible length, Greg Creek’s drawings focus upon the richness of a studio process that captures the interaction between the incidentals of everyday events and universal contexts.

Greg Creek: The Desktop Drawings brings together a selection from Creek’s extraordinary drawing practice now spanning 20 years – ranging from Melbourne via Europe to Shepparton with a highlight the growing body of new drawings commissioned specifically by SAM for The Drawing Wall #19, showing from 30 May to 30 August 2015.

 TarraWarra Museum of Art

An architectural wonder, TarraWarra is set in beautiful Healsville and worthy of a visit. After your visit to see some art get your self a glass of wine and roll down the big hill!



Current Exhibition


The exhibition Earth and Sky curated by Hetti Perkins, features a selection of bark paintings by John Mawurndjul and Gulumbu Yunupingu, two of the most outstanding Australian artists of our time. In bringing the work of these two artists together, the exhibition offers a panoptic view of ‘country’ from an Indigenous perspective. Both artists engage with and represent the natural world in a highly sophisticated and conceptual aesthetic form. Their work distils the spiritual nature of this engagement in work that resonates with a power that is both ceremonial and celebratory.

Part of ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2015 11 April–17 May 2015, a Melbourne-wide Festival of art exhibitions, forums and talks seeking to harness the creative power of the Arts to
inform, engage and inspire action on climate change.
For more information:

Art Gallery of Ballarat

Check out the website to see what’s on in this great town!

Art gallery

Arc Yinnar


I haven’t visited this little town for many years but I’m always hearing great things about this gallery. It’s up Gippsland way, so take off for a lovely day trip!








Space Space -A new venture in Japan

By Celeste Hawkins

The most delightful thing I’ve found in occupying this space over the past three years is the amazing people that have and continue to contact me. A myriad of people from other countries that may or may not have a connection to Australia, have found my wee corner of the internet and said hello. One such person is Ella Krivanek, an expat artist from Melbournite living in Tokyo. On March 28 2015, she took on the task of establishing a new gallery in Komae, Tokyo. Space Space exhibits risky, exciting new work from both international and Japanese artists.  The press release from the opening of ‘Freedom’ highlights the need for this kind of work: “In the wake of the arrest of high-profile feminist artist Megumi Igarashi, for her work involving the female body, the Tokyo arts scene looks less like that of a modern, exciting, and culturally rich metropolis and more like that of a fearful, restrictive backwater”. What grabbed me was that there were quite a few Australian artists involved in the exhibition and I wanted to find out more about why Ella set up this new venture in Japan.

Photos from the opening of Freedom-Photo credit-Rachel Brandon


 Hideko Ono

Hideko Ono

 Kaori Kato

Kaori Kato

 Miho Sui Sekiguchi

Miho Sui Sekiguchi

Rachel Brandon and Tom Hay

Rachel Brandon and Tom Hay

Rebecca McCauley, Rachel Brandon and Tom Hay

Rebecca McCauley, Rachel Brandon and Tom Hay

Can you tell me about your background and why you’ve ended up in Japan?

I suffer under an illusion that I think is uniquely Australian, namely that true success in the arts can only be found outside one’s home. I think this comes from our own culture’s desire to cut tall poppies down, and our absorption of both English and American popular culture and visual art. I felt this particularly acutely when exhibiting as a sculptor and installation artist in Melbourne, and when I assisted in the curation and installation of other artists’ work in local institutions such as Bus Gallery, Open Space, and Gertrude Street. The overwhelming feeling was that what was being produced domestically was at a high calibre but was not receiving the international recognition nor being given the requisite weight.

I came to Japan in the hope that I might be able to bring some of the Melbournian exhibiting culture, which is so open to emerging artists, to this country, which is rife with censorship and commercialism. In doing so, I hoped to provide opportunities to young Australian artists, enabling them to receive the exposure and acclaim that they deserve.

Another comment from the press release states: “The focus is shifted from producing art with an eye to recouping the artist’s and the gallery’s costs, to making art that is a pure form of expression”.

FreedomOpening - Crowd FreedomOpening - Crowd3


Why is the promotion of art as a ‘pure form of expression’ rather than as a commodity so important?

Objects of beauty that are designed to be bought and sold certainly have their place in our society. They decorate our homes and bodies, and make the spaces in which we live and work more palatable. It is my feeling, however, that those which do not express something are simply crafts or trinkets, not really befitting the name ‘art’. Art seeks to communicate something beyond its appearance. If you accept this premise, then the question is only how effectively and honestly this communication takes place. Unfortunately, these lines of communication are easily tainted by a profit motive, as creators consciously or unconsciously change how they make, curate, and collect based on what will help them to recoup their costs. This is why non-profit galleries are such an important part of the arts scene, in that they provide a place for new, young artists to embolden themselves, and develop an honest aesthetic, without being shackled to commercial interests.

How did so many Australians come to be involved? Are they expats living there?

As a Melbournian myself, my arts practise has been primarily based in Australia over the last 5 years. Through my work I have been in touch with a number of artists, writers and thinkers. Most of these are still based down under. However, Space Space gallery was lucky enough to have several artists make the journey from overseas for the opening, including Melbourne photographer Elle Ross. There are also a couple of Australian expats living in Tokyo who are involved in the show.

Have some come especially for the event?

Besides Ross, American artist Hannah Lee flew from New York for the opening, as did Kaori Kato from Hokkaido. Rachel Brandon and Tom Hay arrived via bullet train from Toyama.

How do you think the public, or the authorities will view the content. Is it likely to shock and ultimately suffer the same fate as what happened with Megumi Igarashi?

Certainly there are elements of the show that are confronting, and thought-provoking, but it is not the intent of Space Space gallery to make works that revolve purely around shock-value. It is too early to say if and how authorities will respond to the work, but the gallery will stand by the show and the artists participating should there be any unrest.

Exhibiting artists: Stephanie Bickford-Smith (UK); Rachel Brandon and Tom Hay (NZ); Aaron Claringbold (AU); Oliver Eales (UK); Kotoe Ishii (JP); Kaori Kato (JP); Raph Kim (UK); Maddison Kitching (AU); Hannah Lee (US); Rebecca McCauley (AU); Caroline McCurdy and Nik van der Gliesen (AU); Alice McIntosh (AU); Caroline Meathrel-Mack (AU); Alex Moncrieff (AU); Hugo Muecke (AU); Dead Kebab (JP); Yuji Oda (J); Hideko Ono (JP/PNG); Gemma Pass (AU); Nellie Rogerson (AU); Elle Ross (AU); Miho Sui Sekiguchi (JP); Dorothy Siemens (US); Sarra Twycross-Smith (AU); Yuri Uemura (JP); Themba Wahlström (AU); Stella Windbridge (AU)







A few ideas…


Here are a few suggestions for the next week or so. Perhaps there is something here that you may like to investigate…

Sometimes its easy to get trapped into viewing the same things, or doing what we know and feel comfortable with. This could even be visiting the same cafe every single day. Well, we all have our favourites, but how do you know there isn’t another, making something heavenly down the road, if you never venture there?  There are lots of different types of people making different types of art. Some of it may not be to your liking. But anyone who bothers to read this post, I dare say would have a clue- that it really is just as much about the process and the idea (if not arguably more)- as it is the final outcome.

I will be back soon with more interviews to devour.

Ok I know-I know- But I can’t help the food metaphors with Easter on the horizon!

Happy Easter, I hope you have a delicious break!



FilmNeverDie Polaroid Exhibition

Melbourne, VIC, 27th March, 2015 – FilmNeverDie is hosting their first ever Polaroid Exhibition at Photonet Galleries, 4th – 22nd of April 2015.


FilmNeverDie is hosting their first ever Polaroid exhibition in conjunction with the Global ExPolaroid Polaroid Exhibition Festival. Entitled ‘Polaroid Resurrection’, this is an Australian first and will be held from the 4th to the 22nd of April, at Photonet Gallery in Fairfield. We will be representing Melbourne, Australia as one of 40 cities around the world participating in this festival, with ExPolaroid coordinating workshops, conferences and exhibitions globally.

The purpose of this exhibition is to give back to the Polaroid community, and allow local artists to showcase their work. Although submissions are now closed, there will be some amazing work from some fantastic photographers from all around Australia. This event is open to the public.

The FilmNeverDie Polaroid Resurrection Exhibition will be held at:

Photonet Gallery
15A Railway Place
Melbourne, VIC 3078


John Young

John Young, LKM (Blue), 2015, oil on linen, 156 x 126 cm.



ARC ONE Gallery will be closed for the entire Easter weekend and reopen Tuesday 7 April, with the final week of John Young’s show, 1866: The Worlds of Lowe Kong Meng and Jong Ah Siug.

The exhibtion will close Saturday 11 April at 5pm.

For all enquiries, please contact ARC ONE Gallery at



Sensory art exhibit provides personal insights into living life with a hearing loss


A free one-off, multimedia exhibit that shares the experience of having a hearing loss with the public will be held on Thursday, 9 April at the HEARing Cooperative Research Centre, (HEARing CRC) in Carlton.

In an Australian first, the Disconnections exhibit features two multimedia pieces created specifically to put people inside the mind of a person with hearing loss so they can experience first-hand the sensory deprivation and social isolation that comes with hearing loss.

Created by established media artist and academic Dr Trish Adams, Disconnections draws upon her personal experiences of hearing loss to create interactive artworks that demonstrate how hearing loss impacts on most aspects of living, particularly communication – something most people take for granted.

Dr Adams developed the project that led to Disconnections following a period of scientific research with Prof. Antonio Paolini at his ‘Sensory Lab’ at the Health Innovations Research Institute, RMIT University.

After this experience, Dr Adams moved into the artwork developmental phase in collaboration with RMIT University Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow, Dr Jonathan Duckworth, and his CiART team at the School of Media and Communication.

“This collaborative relationship with CiART was instrumental in providing the research expertise and knowledge essential in communicating and translating the complexities of art/science concepts through contemporary media art,” Dr Adams said.

For Disconnections, Dr Adams has developed two artworks that continue the narrative of sensorial community engagement. The first work called Inaudible City is a large-scale projection of video sequences that portrays Melbourne’s familiar urban landscape.

The second, called Fractured_Message, is a portrait-style video of a young man who the viewer cannot properly understand due to a soundtrack of inaudible and distorted speech.

Both works explore the frustration and unease of a hearing impaired pedestrian struggling to make sense of auditory aspects encountered in today’s urban environment.

Hosted by the HEARing CRC, Disconnections will be launched on Thursday, 9 April at The University of Melbourne’s Audiology, Hearing and Speech Sciences Building, 550 Swanston St, Carlton. For more information about the event, please visit:

The exhibits officially opens at 5.30pm with a talk by audiologist and lecturer Dr Caitlin Grenness (The University of Melbourne) who will speak about new approaches in hearing healthcare that empower individuals in determining how they want their hearing loss managed.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its art funding and advisory body. The HEARing CRC is financially supported by the Cooperative Research Centres Programme – an Australian Government Initiative.

For catering purposes, please RSVP before 8 April 2015.






Joining us in Australia for the very first time, American pop-surrealist Mab Graves brings with her an imagined world of candy coloured girls, intergalactic cats and supernatural specimens for her newest exhibition of work, “Spectrum”.

On show at Auguste Clown Gallery from 17th April – 3rd May , Spectrum heralds in a new collection of paintings, illustrations, miniatures and sculptures inspired by the prism of Mab’s passions. Mab has taken a beautifully blank slate and unleashed all the pieces living inside her head to explore new themes, shapes and spectrums of colour.

Mab Graves is a contemporary artist and illustrator living and painting in a converted 1800’s tavern in a small corner of Indianapolis. A self-taught artist, Mab has shown in galleries both in the United States and internationally, and had her art published within books and magazines worldwide. Her work has been sold in more than 56 countries.


Mab’s art is deeply inspired by fairy tales and old classic literature. She adores narrative and attributes her creative process to a childhood spent reading stories with three sisters and a very vivid imagination that has allowed her to continue to dream…

“For this new collection I decided to challenge myself. With no planned direction, I had absolute freedom. I started thinking about what I wanted to bring into being. I decided I would unleash all the pieces that had been living inside my head – wanting to come out – but that I’d never been able to grant myself the time to create. I wanted to give myself the liberty to play with inspirations I’d been holding onto for years.” – Mab Graves

Spectrum: A New Series of Work by Mab Graves

Opening Night With Artist Meet & Greet: Friday 17th April, 6pm

Presented by Auguste Clown Gallery

52 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne Australia

Exhibition On view from 17th April – 3rd May (free entry)
About Auguste Clown Gallery

Auguste Clown is a Melbourne underground art gallery dedicated to showing some of the most interesting and notable pop surrealist artists from around the world. To view the full list of represented artists and their biographies, visit

What’s on at Heide:



Welcome to Heide’s weekly media update. Featuring details on current and future exhibitions, programs, events, garden and kids’ activities.

Rosemary Laing: weathering (Sat 21 Feb – Sun 31 May)
Albert Tucker: The Truth in Masquerade (Sat 21 Feb – Sun 16 Aug)

21st Century Heide: The Collection Since 2000 (Sat 28 Mar – Sun 14 Jun)

Bookings essential: 9850 1500

Art Programs
ART TALK Curator’s Pick
21st Century Heide: The Collection since 2000
Saturday 28 March 2:00 PM
Senior curator Linda Michael discusses a selection of works from the Heide Collection.
Free with admission

Rosemary Laing: weathering
Saturday 11 April 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Artist Elaine Clocherty leads a tour of Heide’s Indigenous Remnant Conservation Zone, located within an Ecological Vegetation Class area that has been classified as ‘endangered’. Participants can witness the effects of climate change and the recent restoration of biodiversity in this fragile environment before collaborating on a site-specific artwork. Presented in association with ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2015.
ADULT 55.00 | CONC/MEMB 50.00

MORNING TEA: Preservation, Presentation & Growth of the Collection
21st Century Heide: The Collection since 2000
Thursday 16 April 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Teresa Zolnierkiewicz, Head of Philanthropy, Global Wealth at ANZ Banking Group, joins Heide Director and CEO Kirsty Grant for a discussion on the three-year funding partnership between Heide and the Truby and Florence Williams Charitable Trust, managed by the ANZ Philanthropy team.
A delicious morning tea from Café Vue is included.
ADULT 22.00 | CONC/MEMB 18.00

ART TALK: Philosophy and Art
21st Century Heide: The Collection since 2000
Sunday 26 April 2:00 PM
Dr Nadine Cameron from The School of Life speaks about philosophy and art, examining how different perspectives can enrich viewers’ appreciation of contemporary art.
Free with admission

MORNING TEA: Weathering and Climarte
Rosemary Laing: weathering
Thursday 30 April 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
How can art and science contribute to our understanding of climate change? Participate in a discussion led by David Karoly, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Melbourne and Guy Abrahams, CEO, Climarte, and enjoy a delicious morning tea from Café Vue. Presented in association with ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2015.
ADULT 22.00 | CONC/MEMB 18.00

Children’s Activities
Suitable for pre-school children, ages 0 to 5.
Thursday 26 March, 10–11.30am
Friday 17 April, 10–11.30am
Part of Nature Play Week
Thursday 23 April, 10–11.30am
Friday 15 May, 10–11.30am
Thursday 28 May, 10–11.30am
Cost Adult $22, Member/Concession $18 (Children free)
(includes admission & morning tea. BYO smock)

Suitable for primary school children, ages 5 to 12.
Sunday 26 April, 10am–1pm
Sunday 31 May, 10am–1pm
Cost Child $30, Heide Member/Concession $25

Easter Day, Sunday 5 April, 11am–3pm
Join us for a day of fun with an Easter egg hunt in the sculpture park. Follow cryptic clues around the garden to discover where the eggs are hiding, and make your own egg shell splatter painting!

Saturday 28 March – Sunday 12 April
Take on the Heide Detective challenge by solving cryptic clues and following a map that will lead you around the exhibitions, gardens and buildings. Each detective to complete a trail wins a prize from the lucky dip!
Collect trails inside Heide III (the main entrance to the museum).

Wednesday 8 April, 10am–12pm
Cost Adult $22, Member/Concession $18 (Children free)

Suitable for primary school children, ages 5 to 12.
Wednesday 1 April, 10am–12pm
A Café Vue pastry chef guides young epicureans on how to measure, mix, bake and decorate perfect little cupcakes. Let the frosting begin!
Cost Child $30, Heide Member/Concession $25 (BYO apron)

Thursday 2 April, 10am–12pm
Children will learn a simple, fun and creative hip-hop routine and use this dance to paint on paper with their hands and feet, guided by a choreographer from The Yellow Dance Spot.
Cost Child $30, Heide Member/Concession $25 (No dance experience required. Wear old clothes. BYO smock, snack, drink and a change of clothes. Washable paint used.)

Thursday 9 April, 10am–12pm
Artist Kym Maxwell will help children develop and design an over-sized three-dimensional pop-up mask. Get ready to be scared!
Cost Child $30, Member/Concession $25 (BYO smock)

Friday 10 April, 10am–12pm
Take to the skies and enjoy the wonders of flight with this marvellous kite-building workshop with Kites 4 Kids. Children decorate and construct their own full size diamond kites. All kites are guaranteed to fly!
Cost Child $30, Member/Concession $25 (BYO sunhat)

Suitable for high school children, ages 11 to 16.
Tuesday 7 April, 10am–1pm
Cost Teen $30, Member/Concession $25 (BYO snack & drink)

Sunday 10 May, 11am–2pm
If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be? Working with artist Alex Desebrock, children will respond to the big questions about life, using BIG ideas to create an ephemeral artwork in the form of a ‘note to an adult’ to be found in the Heide gardens.

In the Gardens and Sculpture Park
Thursday 2 April, 11am
Wednesday 6 May, 11am
Sunday Reed established the historic Heide I kitchen garden in 1936, placing an emphasis on the cultivation of fresh produce, a tradition that continues today. Join a volunteer guide for a tour of the Heide I and Heide II kitchen gardens, examining their history and development.

Sunday 29 March, 2pm
Wednesday 29 April, 11am
Thursday 28 May, 11am
Tour the historic Heide gardens with a volunteer guide.

Wednesday 1 April, 11am
Easter Sunday, 5 April, 2pm
Thursday 16 April, 11am
Wednesday 27 May, 11am
Tour the sculpture park with a volunteer guide.

Enjoy a leisurely walk through the picturesque gardens at Heide from the original farmhouse down to the banks of the Yarra River. A plant list will be supplied.
Wednesday 8 April, 11am
Gardener, James Dodd

Thursday 9 April, 11am
Head gardener Dugald Noyes tours the grounds noting plants that are unique to the fabric of the Heide landscape.

Sunday 12 April, 2pm
Saturday 23 May, 2pm
Learn about the different processes and techniques used by artists in the making of several sculptures in the park, with volunteer guide Nasrin Rasoulzadeh.

Wednesday 22 April, 11am
Gardener James Dodd talks about how to select the right plants for your garden, considering sun, water, temperature, and soil type. A fact sheet will be provided.

Wednesday 13 May, 11am
Accompany head gardener Dugald Noyes for a walk through the beautiful gardens, looking at the autumnal colours of the exotic trees planted by the Reeds upon their arrival 80 years ago.

Heide Architecture and History
ARCHITECTURE TALK: Heide II – A Gallery to be Lived In
Easter Monday, 6 April, 2pm
Thursday 23 April, 11am
Thursday 14 May, 11am
In 1963, the Reeds commissioned David McGlashan of McGlashan & Everist Architects to build a home that had a sense of mystery and romance, and one that would house their growing art collection—a ‘gallery to be lived in’. Join a volunteer guide and learn about the design and construction of the iconic modernist building now known as Heide II.
FREE with admission

Thursday 26 March, 11am & 2pm
Easter Saturday, 4 April, 2pm
Wednesday 15 April, 11am
Thursday 30 April, 11am
Wednesday 20 May, 11am
Learn about the fascinating history of Heide, from the early days when John and Sunday Reed first purchased the property to the development of the heritage buildings and gardens, and its evolution into a museum of modern and contemporary art.
FREE with admission

Sunday 19 April, 2pm
Take a literary tour of Heide with volunteer guide Judith Hughes and discover how John and Sunday Reed opened their home to aspiring writers, and supported the creative endeavours of many young artists.

Mothers’ Day, Sunday 10 May, 2pm
Albert Tucker introduced Joy Hester to Sunday Reed in 1939 at the Herald exhibition of French and British Painting, shown at the Melbourne Town Hall. Jill Nicol, volunteer guide, discusses the life-long friendship between the two women.
FREE with admission

Saturday 2 May, 11am
Volunteer guide Elle Hanson looks at the development of Sidney Nolan’s famous Ned Kelly series from its inception in the Heide I dining room and its storage in the ‘doll’s house’ to its place on the gallery walls.

Thursday 14 May, 10–11.30am
An estimated one thousand Aboriginal Australians volunteered to enlist in World War I, despite not being recognised as Australian citizens at that time. In recent years the contribution of Aboriginal servicemen and women has begun to be acknowledged. Join Andrew McIntosh, Reconciliation Manningham and member of Military History & Heritage Victoria, for a discussion on Aboriginal involvement in World War I. After the discussion, enjoy a delicious morning tea from Café Vue.
In conjunction with National Trust Heritage Festival and Manningham Heritage Week
Cost Adult $22 member/concession: $18 (includes admission & morning tea)

1. Kathy Temin, Indoor Monument: Hard Dis-play 1995-2009, synthetic polymer paint on composition board, 37 x 600 x 600 cm installation dimensions, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, Gift of Kathy Temin 2010, © the artist

Copyright © *2015 Heide Museum of Modern Art


5 things to do in Melbourne Town this week…

Sometimes I think I should call this, “Flinders Lane Blog”. I just love it so much.:)

 1. Visit the City Library

If you didn’t know it was there, you could easily miss it. It’s a fantastic space and just so relaxing. Apart from the obvious tantalizing books on display aching to be read, there is also a gallery upstairs on the top floor. Elisabeth Blanchet’s work, a series of oil paintings and drawings entitled, “Inner Worlds.’ is on currently and finishes the 30th of March.


There is also a piano in the gallery space. And If you are lucky enough, you will catch one of Melbourne’s best known icons, composing many of her own beautiful pieces. Very special.

 2. Visit Pollon Flowers

All matter of natural things spill out into the street from this space, you can never walk past and not be drawn to something. They always have the most amazing displays. Interwoven branches, gigantic vases, rare flowers, little glass worlds….


Beautiful window display today at Pollon Flowers

 3. Visit one of Flinders Lanes many galleries!

One pick for today is Karen Woodbury Gallery showing the work of Deborah Kelly, Heather B. Swann and Balint Zsako in one room. Marie Hagerty and Robert Foster in the other.These shows finish this weekend.


Praise from The Magdalenes 2012 DEBORAH KELLY archival print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper with collage 206.0 x 112.0 cm (framed) Image Courtesy of Karen Woodbury and the artist.

4.Pop into Cumulus Inc.

My favourites have always been the wine, cheese…homemade crumpets and coffee. Great service and vibe.

Cumulus Logo

5. Visit the Nicholas building 

Situated on the corner of Swanston Walk and Flinders Lane, this building thrusts you into the past. It is a home to a myriad of creative spaces, including artist run initiative, Blindside.

Nicholas building

Meet Melbourne Painter-Josh Robbins

By Celeste Hawkins

Josh Robbins is direct and straight to the point. You can see where his many years working in advertising have given him the confidence and clarity in his approach. There isn’t a lot of vagueness here. He knows exactly what he is doing in terms of his style, what his work portrays and why he is doing it. That fact that he can sell his ideas effectively has landed him a spot in Flinders Lane Gallery and a recent acquisition of his large -scale work, ‘Roost’, by a prestigious Law firm in Melbourne. In contrast to this self awareness, Josh has a sweet naivety about the art world, endowing him with the gift of following his own path and not being drawn into anything beyond that feels real and authentic to his innate artistic direction.

in front of artwork

Josh in his studio

Tell me about this acquisition!

The acquisition was for my next show, ‘Roost’, so it was not originally intended as an acquisition. I just wanted to do something big. And take a year to paint it. I had a plan to sell the eight panels individually, but was told by another artist to keep them all together. As timing would have it, Claire at the Gallery found a buyer. He had purchased a piece of mine previously and had a space 10 meters long to fit all the panels. It’s great that its on display and I can go and have a look at it every now and again.

Roost 2014

Josh Robbins, Roost 2014, oil and mixed media on linen, 200 x 800cm.

Where is the starting point for you in terms of your painting practice?

I worked in advertising for nearly 20 years. I took six months off in 2007 and put on my first show. I put that on myself and it all went pretty well and I got further inspired. I then I went back to work again, but just got jack of working in advertising. I always had a really vague plan of wanting to paint. At that point, I was about to be a father for the third time and thought it was a really good time to jump ship and see if I could paint (Well, that and the fact that I got fired!). I got into ‘Exploration 12’, that went well and then Claire offered me a spot in the gallery (Flinders Lane).


Josh Robbins, Spring time with the Barbets

So, you were sort of thrust straight into it, so to speak?

I’ve got no real reference point for any other galleries or even gallery life and I know very little about other galleries. I think a fair bit of naivety can take you a fair way and keep you honest. But on the flip side, I think you sort of need to know what’s going on and how things work and that’s sort of where I am now!

Panel 1_LowRes

Josh Robbins, Panel 1 of Roost, 2014

Josh explains that it was the need for more control over what he was doing as a key driver for working full time as an artist:

I did art school and went in a graphic arts direction with a focus on advertising. I’ve always, tinkered and painted and played around with type. And with advertising, I always had a vague notion that I wouldn’t do it forever. Making ads is fun. Making things are fun. But everything In Australia takes a long time. I’d work on a project for 12 months and maybe nothing would happen. I worked in New Zealand for four years and that was great! I find in Australia that we have a bit more of a corporate mentality where ideas constantly get watered down and changed. I wanted more control over what I was doing and not having someone ask me to change things. So now, when I’m on a whim and I want to do something, I can do it. And that’s great. However, the downside is that if something goes wrong I’ve got no one else to blame but myself. I can’t say it’s the client’s fault or the director’s fault!

Panel 8_LowRes

Josh Robbins, Panel 8 of Roost, 2014

Why the birds?

Originally I wasn’t massively into birds. I was painting a lot of trees, and particularly Japanese blossoms and often using plywood as a base. I decided soon after that trees should have something in them. And so I started messing around on paper and experimenting with drawing different types of birds. I’ve always liked the blind drawing technique and got started on larger compositions and the birds looked pretty cool. Now, I’m developing more of an appreciation for birds. My parents live down at Phillip Island where there are European gold finches and Blue fairy wrens. It’s very exciting to see these birds flitting about in nature.

Josh and bird

Josh and Mr. Raven

Josh is also very into Taxidermy. In the studio a raven sits on the top shelf lording over the happenings in the studio.

I have had a fascination with crows and ravens for quite a long time. Then my wife got me one! She also booked me into a one day course which was fun, I taxidermed a mouse, his name is Todd but it’s quite an expensive pastime. I would love a peacock! Apparently they come from New Zealand and are seen as a pest over there!


Todd and friend

How would you describe your style, or what you’re trying to achieve with your work?

Stylistically, I am more about the aesthetic. There are no ideas in my painting. No political commentary or symbolism drawn from Historical artists. I like the power of how things look. I love when a picture stops you. It could be the technique or the way the paint falls or everything-the composition or what it is. I think having the art director background has had an influence; I like to make things look a certain way. I just want to create beautiful pictures that are quite intriguing and intricate. That is the basis of what I do. And the blind drawing again is trying to create a new aesthetic. The blind drawing helps with distortions and there is a fair bit of freedom in that because you’re not worried about whether it looks right. The only worry I have is that maybe it looks too right!

Panel 3_MLowRes

Josh Robbins, Panel 3 of Roost, 2014

Josh creates work on large-scale canvases using oils, but has also created a multitude of works on paper using gouache or ink. In the early days of trialing, he used floor stain and enamel paint, whatever was lying around. The underlying message that Josh is intent on saying is that his work speaks for itself.

Some people have asked is it just purely decorative? But I think there is something quite powerful in the notion that ‘it is what it is’. There is nothing hidden, nothing to decipher. This is who I am and this is it. The meaning of the artwork is the artwork itself. I think there’s simplicity, beauty, bravery and depth in exposing all that you are, all of the time. Now I have a different eye than when I was a younger. I want to refine my technique and not refine it. It was more raw years ago and I like that. There is a balancing act. I don’t want to ever be too slick.

Studio 1

“Sometimes 80 percent of painting is not painting. And I find that since doing this full time, the more you do the more you get inspired.”

shelf 1

Bits and pieces in the studio

One to three Trogons

Josh Robbins, One to three Trogons


Josh talks more intently about his need to be clear and direct with his work:

One of the things I’m having a struggling internal dialogue with at the moment is conceptual or installation art. I’m not poo-pooing the artists endeavors I think getting out there and making stuff is great, but, If you need an A4 sheet of paper to describe what’s going on, I wonder if it’s missing the mark a little bit? And, I’m not sure the answer is ‘it doesn’t matter, it’s what the audience makes of it’. What’s the intent of the artist? What is their expectation of the audience? And why does it need such a massive explanation? These questions are important to me.

I remember hearing an author talk about trying to keep his writing as a continuous unbroken dream’. If you keep getting too fancy with your writing or wording, you disrupt the dream. Similarly with art, if there are too many external reference points or cryptic symbols you disrupt the dream. I guess I feel that a painting or art can’t do anything unless it does it by itself. It shouldn’t rely on an external explanation of itself or what it is or what it means (an A4 sheet of paper blu-tacted to the wall), to be understood by the viewer.

Raven 1

More studio bits!

Explaining that the botanical look in his works was not his intention, he has also been influenced by Japanese art for the graphic nature of it and its surface beauty. As far as contemporary painters go, like many artists he draws on a few for inspiration in either their style or their personal attitude to their work.

I think that some of the elements used by Brett Whitely come through as a strong influence in my paintings. He’s my long time painting crush. I also value the ideas of Francis Bacon and the way he used paint, painting was a very visceral thing for him. I am also in awe of Joshua Yeldham’s work and the attention to detail in his famous Owl paintings. Rhys Lee, Amber Wallis Fiona Rae and Kateeric are some of the others whose work I admire. I also appreciate the amount of detail in the classic realist painters as Constable and Von Geurard; I’m amazed at their output of work, its just crazy!


Josh Robbins’ exhibition is on at Flinders Lane Gallery in May from the 5th-23rd. Details here