Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program 2016

Project Series Walking Tour, Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program 2016

0 Comments 02 April 2016


Project Series Walking Tour



The Virgin Australia Fashion Festival is all wrapped up, however the style and design continues on. Today I am attending the Project Series Walking Tour, an illuminating and informative guided tour of the most contemporary, cutting edge exhibitions currently showing in Melbourne. Spanning across eight of the city’s most renowned galleries, this tour provides guests the opportunity to gain crucial insights into the process of crafting and ideation.

We begin our journey at Pieces of Eight Gallery in Russell Street, for the first-time jewellery collaboration between Lisa Roet and Kit Willow. We are collected in an intimate circle around Lisa Roet, who begins speaking to us about her process of crafting. The work explores notions of of mortality, humanity, and the animal kingdom, through ape-skin relief prints translated onto handcrafted wearables. Bronzed chimpanzee hands function as elegant and unusual bracelets, while plated yellow and rose gold ape skin materials are crafted to form chokers, cuff-links, necklaces, and rings. There are also some particularly rare materials that have been utilised to form art objects, including mammoth tusk and carved jet (which Lisa explains is petrified wood, and is an extremely difficult material to attain). While it is an exceptionally beautiful and opulent exhibition, it raises some important questions regarding the use of such rare objects and their relation to the artistic and commercial world.

We move towards Bourke Street to enter West Space, a contemporary, airy, and well-lit gallery. The Garden of Earthly Delights by Glenn Barkley and Angela Brennan is a stunning collection of improvised paintings and ceramic sculptures drawing on themes of the natural world. Also on display are Lauren Burrow’s intriguing sculptural works for Exhaustion Builds, while the Victorian College of the Arts group exhibition, Is/Is Not, is a stand-out amalgamation of photography, video, neon and text, exploring the relationship between image and reality. However, of all these exhibitions, David Capra’s Teena’s Bathtime: Eau De Wet Dogge really takes the cake. Influenced by the scent of his dog, Teena the Daschund, Capra created a new fragrance that perfectly captured her wet, animalistic scent. We are warned that the scent is particularly ‘potent’, with a small desk fan in the corner of the room verifying this claim. However we are nothing if not an inquisitive tour group, and so we spray a miniscule amount of the perfume onto the lurid yellow and purple tester cards. I can safely say that the scent seemed to linger with us all day, and it was indisputably the exact scent of a wet dog. Potent, indeed.

Next on the tour is a visit to Craft Victoria, and in particular, the collaboration between ceramicist and designer Vanessa Lucas, and illustrator Courtney King, entitled Orangery. A Craft Victoria curator explains the meticulous process of showcasing the work in the window space, recollecting the amount of time the artists spent artfully and painstakingly draping a handcrafted cape jacket so that the folds fell in the perfect arrangement. This sophistication of design is evident across both the textile and illustrative work. Lucas’ clay work adheres to strict rules of form and function, with an impeccably smooth and refined finish. The disciplined mediums are brought to life by the oddly Moroccan colour palette – a most striking, earthy orange against a washed-out black. After taking in our fill, we move on to BLINDSIDE.

With a firm grounding in the infamous Nicholas Building, BLINDSIDE offers a stunning, high-level view of Melbourne. We are instantly greeted with ‘Paperwork’, the monochromatic wallpaper by Sadie Chandler that is the focal point of the front room, comprised of many faces and frames. Also showcasing at BLINDSIDE is a collaboration between Lesley Duxbory and Paul Uhlmann entitled ‘Breathing Hemispheres (Skies 66.1100°N, 18.5300°W + 32.0569°S, 115.7439°E)’. This is without a doubt my favourite exhibition of the tour, as I have a particular fondness for the night sky. Engaging with skies and atmospheres, Duxbury and Uhlmann each documented the sky at simultaneous key periods of the day and night. However, Duxbury’s photography was located in remote North Iceland, while Uhlmann was based in Western Australia. The work is covered with astrological coordinates, notations, and quotes such as ‘Gazing up in silent wonderment at the night sky’ and ‘Some rarely look up at all’.  In another room, a video installation by Chantal Fraser titled It hangs with rattlesnakes and rubbish loops in the background. With an evocative sense of time and place, textiles blend with human form in this powerful film (which was recently covered by one of our Buzzcuts reviewers here). We soon move on to the final gallery.

The Margaret Lawrence Gallery space is the contemporary artistic hub situated within the Victorian College of the Arts campus. In partnership with VAMFF, the works are textural in nature, and have therefore been carefully curated to form Fabrik – a “conceptual, minimal and performative” approach to fashion and art. The artworks range from a table of in-progress pieces displaying the process of crafting, to video installation work, to refined, textural pieces. Simone Slee’s belly harnesses encourage audiences to don the contraption, which frames the stomach area, and post their pictures to Instagram. Slee, who is in attendance, explains that this work aims to highlight an intimate area of the body that is so regularly covered up, in an intimate and appreciative exploration of the human form. Also on display are artworks made out of food and cloth; ‘strap-on’ artworks; imposing and ritualistic gold installations; and indeed, basic t-shirts that have been unravelled and frayed to literally emphasise the fabric of design.

The tour condenses an extensive exploration of eight galleries and countless artists and exhibitions into a meagre two-hour block. However, by the end of the tour, we feel as though it is a perfect amount of time, allowing us to briskly experience a multitude of sensory art practices, while not spending so much time walking and standing as to exhaust us. By the end of the tour, we are collectively overwhelmed and overpowered with the amount of stimulating artistic work we have absorbed, and we leave with a powerful sense of motivation, inspiration, and the desire to create beautiful things.

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