Category Archives: Exhibitions

Exhibition: The Jesus Trolley

If you nip into Central Melbourne for some Christmas shopping, stop off at the City Gallery that nestles into a corner of the Melbourne Town Hall on Swanston Street.  ‘The Jesus Trolley’ exhibition has been on since 8 September but with my habitual tardiness, I’m only writing about it now- and it closes on 24 December, most appropriately.

I see from today’s paper there have been a number of ‘Jesus bikes’ left around Melbourne with evangelical slogans on them.

jesusbike

I thought instantly of the Jesus Trolley exhibition. The exhibition features Desmond Hynes who, for thirty years since 1983, pushed a decorated shopping trolley around the streets of central Melbourne and stood in his ‘Jesus is Lord’ windcheater, holding aloft a hand-painted sign proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection.  It was a full-time job for this self-appointed street evangelist, who lived with his sister in a rented property in Hotham Street Elsternwick, immediately opposite Ripponlea which, until sold and demolished, was similarly festooned with posters and exhortations (see photo here). All his preaching paraphernalia was headed for  the tip until a neighbour recognized it for the social history it is and salvaged some of it.  And here it is in the exhibition- a little cluster of shopping trolleys- and posters, photos showing the ephemeral nature of his eternity-oriented quest.

jesustrolley

There’s also a short 4 minute documentary about Desmond Hynes called ‘Doing’Time with Desmond Hynes’ filled by Russell McGilton in 1997 as part of the Race Around the World series. It’s also available here on YouTube:

But take advantage of seeing the exhibition while it’s still on.  There’s a beaut little book that you can pick up, with an excellent essay by Chris McAuliffe about street preaching more generally in Melbourne and photos of objects from the exhibit.

On until 24 December 2016 City Gallery, Melbourne Town Hall.

Exhibition: A Brush with Heidelberg

Here I am, writing about other people’s exhibitions and I don’t think I’ve mentioned the exhibition I’m most closely involved with- A Brush with Heidelberg, at the Heidelberg Historical Society closing on Sunday 27 November 2016.

poster-for-exhibition-15-2-16-a4

As you would know if you live in Melbourne, Heidelberg has a long connection with artists.  Most famously, the ‘Heidelberg School’ of Australian Impressionists (Roberts, McCubbin, Streeton, Withers etc)  stayed in Eaglemont during the 1890s and painted ‘en plein air’ in Heidelberg and the surrounding districts.  Then, there’s Heide, named for Heidelberg, across the river where John and Sunday Reed attracted modernist painters like Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and Joy Hester.

But other artists- some well known, others less so- have been attracted to Heidelberg, painting the river and its surroundings and also the quaint village of Heidelberg which somehow retained some of its earlier charm.

This exhibition has reproductions and original paintings of Heidelberg scenes, juxtaposed where possible with photographs of the same vista today.  If you know Heidelberg at all, you’ll see familiar buildings and landscapes, and perhaps learn about the history of the building or the painter.

The exhibition, located at the old courthouse in Jika Street (opposite Heidelberg Gardens) is open on Sundays between 2.00 and 5.00 p.m. Entry is $5.00. The exhibition is on for only a few weeks more, closing at the end of November on Sunday November 27.

And we were delighted to receive a commendation for our exhibition at the 2017 Victorian Community History Awards.

img_0367-janine-and-steven-with-the-certificate1

Exhibitions: Pholiota and Strutt

Once again I find myself visiting and writing about exhibitions just as they’re metaphorically turning the lights off and getting ready to shut the door. Well, perhaps not quite, because both these exhibitions close on 23 October, but that certainly doesn’t leave long to catch them.

Pholiota Unlocked 7-23 October 2016, 9am-5pm. Dulux Gallery, ground floor, Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne. Entry is free.

I knew that there must be something up with Pholiota because I’d noticed so many hits on a posting I wrote back in 2013 about Walter and Marion Griffin which included photographs of the interior of Pholiota, which I was fortunate enough to view on an open day.

IMG_4741

Pholiota – you can just see the Knitlock brickwork

Pholiota (meaning ‘mushroom’) was constructed by Walter and Marion Griffin in Eaglemont, beside the Lippincott House which Griffin also designed for his brother-in-law. Knowing that its miniscule size (6.4 metres by 6.4 metres) would preclude it receiving building approval, they claimed that it was only a doll’s house for the Lippincott House next door.  They lived there between 1920 and 1925 very happily: so happily in fact that Marion claimed that they sometimes walked backwards on the way to Eaglemont station so that they could admire it from afar.

The original house is, in effect, a single room with sleeping alcoves, a too-small kitchen and a largish dressing room surrounding the dining room with its open fireplace.

IMG_4751

The large table in the centre of the room; very small kitchen in the middle rear

Students from the Melbourne University School of Design have built a life-sized model of Pholiota from  plaster blocks fabricated using modern materials manufactured using the Knitlock system invented by Griffin as an inexpensive, do-it-yourself form of building.

img_20161021_145401

The walls only reach about eight feet high and there is no roof, so you feel as if you are looking down on the model.  Even though it was empty and completely white,  it seemed smaller than I remembered the real Pholiota to be. You can don virtual-reality glasses to look at a student’s design for updating Pholiota to current taste.

In an adjacent gallery students have reimagined the Glenard Estate which was laid out by Griffin in 1916.  Charged with making it a medium-density suburb while maintaining Griffin’s vision of shared green space, the students have designed streetscapes with multiple dwellings, the same size as Pholiota and each with 2 bedroom spaces, more than doubling the density of the suburb.  I’m sure that the good people of Glenard Estate are horrified.

There’s a good article about Pholiota here

Heroes and villains: Strutt’s Australia State Library of Victoria 14 July-23 Oct 2016, entry free.

Despite the rain, we caught a tram down Swanston Street to the State Library of Victoria to catch the last days of ‘Strutt’s Australia’, an exhibition previously on show at the National Library featuring works by the painter William Strutt.

Have a look here and you’ll see that you probably recognize many of his paintings without necessarily realizing that he had painted them.  Burke and Wills; bushrangers; the Black Thursday bushfires: he’s a veritable one-man-band of Australian imagery- or perhaps rather, he helped create it.

Born in England, he began drawing at  the Paris atelier of Michel-Martin Drolling in 1838 (just 13!) where he was trained in figure drawing leading to the painting of large history paintings.  He lived in Australia between 1850 where he painted portraits of John Fawkner (Judge Willis’ most vocal supporter), members of the Native Police Force and Robert O’Hara Burke (of Burke and Wills fame) He travelled to the goldfields where he made sketches of the diggers at work and  made sketches in preparation for making big-history paintings of the opening of the Victorian Legislative Council in 1851 and Parliament House in 1856.  Many of his scrap books furnished small sketches which he later incorporated into his pictures. He returned to England in 1862 where he painted ‘popular’ pictures to keep body and soul together, as well as the big historical paintings of Australian events that we know so well e.g. Black Thursday and the burial of Burke (which of course he never witnessed).

There’s an interesting interactive display where you can click on the figures in his Bushrangers picture and see the original sketches that he had done in preparation for this larger picture. I was surprised by the variation in quality of the works on display: his nude figures as a 13 year old are very good and the details in his big history paintings are vivid and well-realized but to be honest, some of his portraits are pretty ordinary.

Exhibition: Moving Tongues 5-30 October 2016

movingtongues

Once again, here I am talking about an exhibition that’s about to close in a few days so if I pique your interest, you’re going to have to hurry up to catch it.  It’s called ‘Moving Tongues:Language and Migration in 1890s Melbourne’ and it’s on at the City Library branch in Flinders Lane, close to Ross House, until 30 October.

The first image that you encounter is that shown  in the poster above: the rectilinear street-grid imposed onto British settler colonies with little regard to topography or earlier use, conveying the impression of a single, replicable British culture.  However, this display argues that a multiplicity of languages and cultures existed within that grid, and it draws from the proceedings of Melbourne courtrooms in the 1890s to illustrate the point.

img_20161014_124852

And so we meet Charles Hodge, the long-standing interpreter in Chinese cases and the ‘Chinese oath’ that was accepted by Victorian courts for many years which involved the lighting of a flame and the recitation of a pledge to tell the truth. We read of the ultimately tragic case of young Norwegian servant Louisa Fritz who accused her employer Theodore Ulstein of rape.  We read of the presence of Syrians and “British Hindoos” and see their sleeping arrangements in the terraced shops of Little Lonsdale and Exhibition Streets, and the alliances formed with indigenous people, especially at the Cummeragunga mission.  We see the November 1898 Parliamentary hearing called by the Victorian government, in order to hear opinions of the Immigration Restriction Act that was one of the first legislative acts of the newly federated Parliament of Australia.

The print-based display is supplemented by a small number of artefacts and replicas of courtroom documents, poetry  based on the Melbourne Poetry Map and artwork.  One large art piece by John Young is based on selections from the diary of Jong Ah Sing, who was incarcerated in lunatic asylums for 33 years. He wrote his diary in an attempt to prove his sanity.

img_20161014_124834

It’s a small, modestly presented display that conveys a broader linguistic and aural view of Melbourne than that presented in the Sentimental Bloke and other depictions of the underside of Marvellous Melbourne.  But hurry up- it closes on 30 October.  The City Library is open Mon-Thurs 8.00am – 7.45, Friday 8.00 to 5.45, Saturday 10.00 to 4.45 and Sunday 12 noon to 4.45.

A Call to Peace- Heidelberg Chorale Society

image003

I went to a beautiful concert last night by the Heidelberg Chorale Society.  It was the world premiere of a piece called ‘When the Bugle Calls’ written by Australian composer Nicholas Buc to a libretto by one of the chorale members, Leigh Hay.  It commemorates two battles: the July 1916 battle at Pozieres, and the battle only fifty years later at Long Tan.  The motifs of the bugle, the army chaplain and the nurse combine the two battles, and the spine-tingling final movement asks:

They fought for home and country, not for an empty fame

Ask of your hearts, which shall we do- rejoice or mourn for them?

It’s a strange feeling, knowing that you’re hearing something performed in public for the first time.  It’s a beautiful piece- and you can hear it again at the Melbourne Recital Centre next Saturday 20th August, along with Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. They sang a couple of pieces from that last night, too, and I realized that I had heard fragments of it before.  It should be a lovely concert and you can find out more about it here.

There’s an associated photographic exhibition at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar school this week until Thursday 18th in their Hillsley Centre, Noel Street Ivanhoe. Called Cameras at War, it features an exhibition from Bendigo RSL of  WWI images taken by the local Grinton brothers, which were discovered in a biscuit tin in a farm shed ninety years later. These photographs are supplemented by images from Long Tan, including some of the Little Pattie and Col Joye concert that was held that very day (I hadn’t realized that), and photographs from Heidelberg Historical Society showing the military presence on homefront Heidelberg during WWI.  It’s on between 15-18 August inclusive between 10.00 and 3.oo.

Exhibition: A History of the Future

history-future

There’s a terrific little exhibition on at the City Gallery, off the Melbourne Town Hall at the moment. It’s called ‘A History of the Future’ and it’s on until August 12.

I’ve always been drawn to things that didn’t happen. While I tut-tut at ‘what-if’ and speculative histories, deep down I enjoy them.  This exhibition displays the plans of grand dreams that planners and architects have had for Melbourne that weren’t even built- and in most cases, I’d have to say “….and a good thing they weren’t, too”.

So there’s a giant hand-shaped building planned for what is now ACMI, between St Pauls and the Forum, with its index finger pointed skyward.  “Nothing remotely like it in all the world!” proclaims the plan. That’s for sure.  The finger nail of the index finger would contain an observation deck, while the thumb could contain a restaurant.  “The hand is particularly beautiful from its palm side, conformed thusly with three fingers clasped and one pointing heavenward, it symbolizes nothing specifically, but many things generally.” Unlike a middle figure pointing heavenward.

There’s several plans for pedestrian walk-way elevated above the footpath, with escalators running up from road level.  Or Robin Boyd’s plan for Bourke Street on five levels, the bottom consisting of public transport, then two levels of car parking, then finally cars going east and west.

For grand buildings, there could be a huge pyramid built beside the State Library (not unlike the one at the Louvre) or – most topically- a plan for the Queen Victoria Market in the 1970s that would have seen it enclosed completely, with a highrise government building erect on the Victoria/Therry Street corner.  It doesn’t sound all that much different to what is being proposed by the City of Melbourne right now.

It’s a fun little exhibition, so spend a spare half-hour looking through it the next time you’re in town.  It’s free and opening hours are Mon: 10am – 2pm ; Tue – Friday: 11am – 6pm and Sat: 10am – 4pm (closed Sunday) For a taster, here’s a slideshow:

http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/arts-and-culture/city-gallery/Pages/current-exhibition.aspx

 

Exhibition: Somewhere in France

SWIF_eventbrite-top-banner-01

Baillieu Library’s current exhibition ‘Somewhere in France: Australians on the Western Front’ is on show until 26 June 2016.

Our commemorative attention has been directed towards the Western front this year,  now that the Gallipoli commemorative caravan has moved on. This exhibition is not, as you might expect, mired in the trenches but instead looks at life away from the front, as young soldiers, nurses and volunteers explored villages, attended theatre performances and encountered new food and culture.  There’s a particularly chilling gas mask on display in one of the cases which reminds us that the front was always present, and the mention of listening to a gramophone while in the trenches highlights the paradox of a war fought along such a small ribbon of contested land.

The exhibition displays contemporary diaries and letters, photographs and ephemera drawn from the University’s collection of material donated by former students, most particularly Ray Jones and Alfred Rowden White. Current day students have researched the material and created two short video presentations based on the stories of Melbourne soldiers and Red Cross workers who ended up ‘Somewhere in France’.

For more information see here.