The biannual Melbourne Art Fair is set to take over the Melbourne’s Exhibition Building again, showcasing a snapshot of contemporary art from around Australia, and the world.
Director Bronwyn Johnson laughs when she talks about the event’s somewhat ‘earthy’ beginnings, saying that in 1988 there were only about 20 galleries shown on the second floor, with tractors stealing the limelight below.
“You could buy a painting and a combine harvester!” she jokes.
Above: Photography David Marks, Artwork by David Griggs (and hero)
Now hosting around 80 national and international galleries, with over 900 artists and 3,000 works on display, it has definitely established its place in the art calendar.
Attracting about 20 per cent of its viewers internationally, Bronwyn stresses the importance of it being about living artists and supporting their careers.
“It is an event that is about fostering and promoting contemporary art and fostering a culture of collecting contemporary art,” she says.
But it is not just about displaying and buying art – there are several other events and initiatives to suit all ages and interests.
Artist: Lachlan Tetlow-Stuart. Title: Suburban Giants Adelaide Feast Festival 2008 Interactive public installation. Collaboration with Jo Kerlogue. Courtesy of Experimenta, Melbourne.
This year’s highlights include free guided tours, public lectures and forums, an educational learning space and Project Rooms for emerging artists.
“We are really intent on embracing the whole spectrum of art,” Bronwyn says. “We recognise that this is where many artists begin their careers, so we need provide lots of other opportunities.
Artist: Christian de Vietri. Title: Superpit, 2008. Courtesy Goddard de Fiddes Gallery, Perth.
Also on display will be a central commission from the Melbourne Art Foundation, this year from Australian ‘pop painter’ Jon Campbell, whose love of the vernacular filters through his humorous art practice.
The fair kicks-off with an exclusive preview event ‘Vernissage’ on Wednesday August 4 and runs until August 8, but with more than 30,000 visitors in 2008, you will need to get in quick to avoid missing out.
Melbourne Art Fair