They came together on a hot, humid November evening in Melbourne. There were young emerging artist – “aren’t that one of those twins that was on the ABC doco?” There restless drunks clutching brown paper bags of take-away alcohol or sharing the silver plastic bag guts of a cask of wine; the beer had run out before I got there and the only thing that the very short barman was serving glasses of wine with every $2 donation to the gallery. They were no longer celebrating an exhibition opening but surviving another year in Melbourne’s art world.
There was an exhibition opening earlier in the night at Michael Koro Gallery: “Surface”, an exhibition about the painted surface. Only a few people were still in the gallery and most of those were queuing at the bar. Stephen Giblett was showing two paintings exploring the transition where the representational becomes abstract, as in his painting of paint on a painter’s overalls. He said that he was trying to be less tightly controlled with his brushwork with these paintings. Dan Sibley’s paintings of burning cars are very controlled; using a technique that appeared like Aboriginal dot painting or pointillism. Melbourne street artist, Frederick Fowler (aka NUROC) was exhibiting paintings of spontaneous aerosol single line drawings that filled the surface in his personal style. And, outside in the street, there were cowboys moving on the “Melbourne Propaganda Window”, two digital projectors on the papered upstairs windows of Michael Koro Gallery.
There were lots of exhibition openings on last Friday night in Melbourne. Outside the Yarra Sculpture Gallery there were lots of guys with mohawks and I could see another opening going on through the window of Per Square Metre as I passed by. I couldn’t go to them as I had other business to attend to; earlier in the evening I was at the Melbourne Stencil Festival AGM. I was elected secretary and the rest of the team that ran this years festival were all formally elected to run next year’s festival. I won’t bore you with any details of the meeting; we were trying not to bore ourselves and got through everything in under an hour.
When I arrive people’s attention had shifted to the studios and the alley that runs alongside Michael Koro Gallery and Blender Studios. Most of the studios had a few works on exhibition for the night. HaHa was sitting around in his studio upstairs with conspiracy theory videos running on the TV but no one was watching. A post-graduate social-anthropology student was trying to get 500 responses to a survey about attitudes to graffiti. A very quite techno music duo was playing with a singer wearing a showgirl style black costume with tassels made of garbage bag plastic. I asked Drew Funk what he was going to do now that he has painted the walls of so many bars, cafes and alleys in Melbourne. He told me is moving to Sydney.
It was yet another time that I had left my camera at home – every time I do I miss photo opportunities. The truth is that I still haven’t adjusted to the demand that a blogger is also a photojournalist. Not that I even had my notebook on this occasion, just a backpack full of stencil festival files. So this cannot be taken as an accurate record, it is just my distorted memory.