Melbourne Now

December 4, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Melbourne Now is a current exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria assembling over 250 outstanding commissions, acquired and loaned works and installations, Melbourne Now explores the idea that a city is significantly shaped by the artists, designers and architects who live and work in its midst.

It reflects the complexity of Melbourne and its unique and dynamic cultural identity, considering a diverse range of creative practice as well as the cross- disciplinary work occurring in Melbourne today.

Previewing the exhibition today, Minister for the Arts Heidi Victoria said the contemporary art celebration will make an impact on the city like never before.

“It is often stated that Melbourne is Australia’s cultural capital. Melbourne Now is set to prove this yet again,” Ms Victoria said.

“Bringing together over 400 artists, architects and product, fashion and jewellery designers, the exhibition will spread over the National Gallery of Victoria’s two sites and venues across Melbourne, for an unprecedented celebration of the creative minds that have shaped our city.”

Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV, said, “We are very proud to be able to present Melbourne Now. It is an opportunity for us all to discover and enjoy some of the best of Melbourne’s culture, to appreciate the diversity of practice and to celebrate what is unique about our creative communities. We are very proud to introduce design and architectural components within the context of the exhibition that place these important areas of practice in a wider survey of contemporary art. Reflecting a new way of working for the NGV, dance and sound will also be introduced into the Gallery spaces.”

Melbourne Now signals a change for the NGV. Mr Ellwood continued, “Melbourne Now has provided us with an opportunity to evolve as an institution and provide new opportunities for our artists and designers. As part of this we have introduced a range of works that invite participation from the widest possible audience. This includes nine highly engaging children’s commissions throughout Melbourne Now as well as our own


Community Hall project, a highly participatory space designed by McBride Charles Ryan where we welcome you to share, create and learn in a daily rotating program of free workshops, talks, catwalks and show’n’tells.”

A collaborative approach between curators, artists and creative practitioners has been encouraged, fostering new ideas, works and presentations that reflect the increasingly cross-disciplinary nature of work occurring in Melbourne today. This spirit of collaboration has also extended to supporters of the NGV who have partnered with artists to realise projects that have been designed specifically for Melbourne Now.

Ms Victoria said the program, which will run until March 2014, offers something for all tastes and all ages.

“The exhibition will surprise and reward visitors again and again, and what is even more exciting is that it’s all free. The Victorian Coalition Government is proud to support this program and I encourage you all to explore, experience and be inspired by, the very best of Melbourne Now!” Ms Victoria said.

Melbourne Now would not have been possible without the generosity of government, organisations and individuals. Chief amongst these is the State Government of Victoria as well as our Principal Partner Mercedes- Benz; Major Partners Ernst & Young; Bank of Melbourne; City of Melbourne; Higgins Coatings; Learning Partner La Trobe University; and Partner the Australia Council for the Arts. This vital support, along with the generosity of Melbourne Now Champions the Dewhurst Family and Robin Campbell and Bruce Parncutt, Melbourne Now Major Donor the Spotlight Charitable Foundation as well as a number of individual donors and philanthropic foundations has allowed the NGV to stage this exhibition.

An example of Michelle's work

An example of Michelle’s work

Michelle Hamer is an architect-turned-textile artist whose work interrogates the vernacular of Melbourne’s civic landscape. Since 2005 Hamer has produced small-scale needlepoint tapestries that reference forms of text and signage in the urban environment. From road signs to graffiti to billboards and advertising, Hamer’s interest is in language and meaning, and her tapestries are a kind of social cartography. Journeying around specific sites, Hamer first takes endless snapshots before sifting and sorting through them, formulating a visual hypothesis which she later executes in material form.

Hamer’s contribution to Melbourne Now pairs works referencing local signage, Blame and punish the individual, 2013, and Can’t, 2013, with three earlier tapestries from her American series I Send Mixed Messages, 2013. While the contrasting palettes and particular nuances of typography, built architecture and native vegetation point to specific times and places, when amplified and dislocated Hamer’s chosen texts suggest a more universal narrative of perplexity and turmoil. The artist describes these powerful distillations as ‘revealing the small in-between moments that characterise everyday life’. DW



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