Urban Campfires exhibition showcasing new art at NJC

The City of Yarra is home to a multitude of emerging and established artists, continually producing powerful and engaging bodies of work. And with the launch of the 2017 Urban Campfires exhibition at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre in Collingwood, many of these artists get the chance to tell their stories alongside each other.

Changing up every six months, the Urban Campfires exhibition calls for artworks produced by artists in Yarra to reflect the exciting diversity of the area, while simultaneously providing a great location for amateur and professional artists to showcase their work.

Community Engagement & Communications Coordinator at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC), Ann Strunks, says that many of the benefits of the exhibition are quite subtle.

“Urban Campfires may seem a crazy way to give people a say in justice,” she said, “but art is a very powerful form of communication, and it’s another way we listen to the heartbeat of Yarra.”

The NJC is a holistic justice centre, according to Strunks, where you will find a multi-jurisdictional court, treatment agencies, community-based crime prevention teams, defence and police prosecution teams.

“Our court goes a step further than the average Magistrates’ Court as we give people on the downward spiral of offending the treatment services and support they need to turn their lives around,” said Strunks.

In addition to the NJC’s commitment to solving the problems associated with criminal behaviour, the NJC openly supports everyone in the community. Urban Campfires is just one other way they are making Yarra a more welcoming and safe space.

“Over the years, newly arrived asylum seekers have shown incredibly moving work [for the Urban Campfires exhibition], exploring the search for home and peace, and people living under the shadow of Alzheimer’s have crafted work that’s explored how the mind works when thoughts are as ephemeral as butterflies,” Strunks said.

“And of course, a lot of artists create art that’s simply exuberant, particularly the children from local schools and playgroups. The NJC is probably the only court to display art made entirely of cotton buds, sparkles, and ice-cream sticks!” she said.

The 2017 exhibition launching in April is produced by BANH Inc., a community support service for the most disadvantaged in the City of Yarra.

Leading the exhibition is Curator Laila Costa, who is aiming to show artwork that really explores social justice issues.

“I am always on the lookout for edgy, kooky and envelope-pushing art,” she said.

Although the exhibition is going strong, with more than a couple of extraordinary past exhibitions, Costa would like to widen the scope to include more community engagement and experimental projects.

“There are so many possibilities to reach out and collaborate to make creative works that inspire, educate and increase well-being,” she said.

The NJC is Australia’s only community justice centre and is showing that this innovative way of tying community interests closely to a justice system is helping community members in a big way.

“I would like there to be many more Neighbourhood Justice Centres rolled out across the country as it deals with justice in a progressive and innovative manner. The data and statistics prove it works better than the traditional justice system and all sectors of community benefit,” Costa said.

To find out more about the Community Justice Model, head here. The NJC provides a ‘Reflections on Practice’ piece, which, the website says, will “explore the flexibility and transferability of community justice.”

To check out the Urban Campfires exhibition, head to the Neighbourhood Justice Centre in Collingwood. The current exhibition will run for a further 6 months.

Written by Roxanne Fitzgerald.

Who run the world? Girls

That’s right as the queen herself Beyonce said, girls do run the world.

This year Last Minute Productions and Stayfly Sydney are hosting the movie screening of Girl Power, on February 24 at Grumpy’s Green in Fitzroy, the first documentary about the incredible lives of female graffiti and street artists around the world.

The film has been selected from thousands of applicants to be a part of the 19th SEOUL Women’s Film Festival, happening this year.

Following Czech graffiti artist and writer Sany, who decided in 2009 to capture female emancipation in graffiti on film, Girl Power presents stories from across the world encapsulating the successes and challenges of females who have dedicated their lives to graffiti and street art in a male-dominated community.

Last Minute Productions Music Coordinator Jurnan Thorn said, “Girl Power highlights and profiles women in the art formats of painting steel and street art.”

Miss Thorn connected with Sany when she came to Australia to film parts of Girl Power. In an effort to bring the documentary to Melbourne, Last Minute Productions and Stayfly Sydney stepped in to help.

Girl Power is set to open up the discussion surrounding graffiti being perceived as vandalism and the way graffiti has been portrayed as a male dominated art expression.

Street artist and owner of Juddy Roller, a creative street art and graffiti management company in Fitzroy, Shaun Hossack said, “Females are super important to the industry, but hugely underrepresented.”

When asked about Girl Power, Hossack said, “I think anything that presents woman as equal participants in any industry is going to be positive for everyone, and there’s obviously a movement happening and an awakening within people.”

If you’re all for equal representation, exceptional films and live music, Girl Power will not disappoint. The screening will also include live artists and performers such as Wonqi Rose ft Miss Money Toast and LADY LASH.

Head here to book your tickets for Girl Power.

Written by Grace Evans

A night of laughs with a serious message set to hit the City of Yarra

Timed to coincide with the controversial Australia Day holiday, a comedy gala is being held to raise awareness of what the date means to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The Reconciliation Comedy Gala will be held at the Malthouse Theatre on 26 January, and will feature a number of comedy greats in the line-up.

Expected to run for around three hours, all of the funds from the show will go towards the City of Yarra’s Stolen Generations Marker Project.

According to Yarra City Council, the Marker Project aims to “honour the struggles of the Stolen Generations as well as acknowledge the resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, communities, clans and groups who seek to heal from the past.” 

Aimed to be completed in November, the project will invite 5 artists to contribute design ideas intended to remind people of the impacts inflicted by past racist government actions on the Indigenous Australian people.

Malthouse Theatre Associate Producer Jason Tamiru said that “the Reconciliation Gala will feature a selection of Australia’s most prominent comedians, and promote recognition of Australia’s Stolen Generation.”

The bill will feature Australian comedy and music greats including MCs Uncle Jack Charles and Judith Lucy, along with Wil Anderson, Tom Ballard, Anne Edmonds, Hannah Gadsby, Tom Gleeson, Shiralee Hood, Kevin Kropinyeri, Bunna Lawrie, Perfect Tripod (Eddie Perfect and Tripod), Dane Simpson, Nelly Thomas, and The Koori Youth Will Shake Spears dance group.

In the comedy business for seven years, Australia’s Number One Female Aboriginal Comedian Shiralee Hood says it’s time to deepen the conversation surrounding Australia Day, and invite others to listen to the struggles experienced by the Stolen Generations.

As we begin to see a growing number of Australians recognising the sadness behind Australia Day, Ms Hood agrees that now is the perfect time to educate. Ms Hood said comedy has helped to establish a platform where people can discuss global and political issues light-heartedly.

“Comedy is a great form of observing the world and then expressing what we see in society,” she said.

Ms Hood has hope that we can all come together and acknowledge those families affected by the Stolen Generations.

“I feel privileged to be able to represent the Indigenous community and have a great platform to do so,” she said.

Ms Hood is looking forward to the gala, and invites everyone to get along to the Malthouse Theatre for a laugh and to listen to the show’s message.

The Reconciliation Comedy Gala will be held at the Malthouse Theatre on January 26 from 2:30 pm.

Check out the Malthouse Theatre website for further details on ticket sales and prices.

Written by Grace Evans

A day of contemporary art: four galleries and exhibitions to check out before the month ends

Melbourne is home to a plethora of innovative and exciting art exhibitions that are head-spinningly good. Clear a day in the up-coming week and spend it feeding the soul with creative expression, because these art exhibitions are coming to an end; and they are definitely not to be missed.

Start in Abbotsford at the convent, with a delicious vegetarian breakfast at Lentils as Anything. This will set you up for a day of contemporary art in the City of Yarra.

Tacit Gallery

Make your way up Johnston street, and around 200m before Hoddle street, you’ll come across Tacit Gallery.

The space is a commercial gallery run by Keith Lawrence that generally exhibits excellent, though more traditional two-dimensional works by established artists. The diversity of colour, style, and medium in the current exhibitions makes for a fantastically varied narrative to walk through. Amongst other mediums, the current show consists of oils on linen, monoprints, collage, and drypoint. This is, Keith details, a tendency of the gallery’s shows, following the discovery that their patrons tend to prefer shows that prioritise this very quality of difference. The smoky, Munch and Hopper-esque oils that greet the gallery-goer extend to the next room of magpies and feathers, and contrast dramatically with Gallery 3’s outlined nudes. Colourful wooden collages – undeniably cubist in form – again contrast with Libby Burne’s misty, textured landscapes. This exhibition adheres with the gallery’s ‘prioritisation of the object’.

The current exhibitions are on until the 27th November

Noriko Nakamura's We weren't aware that you have been here all this time, 2016, in Gertrude Contemporary. Photo: Camilla Eustance
Noriko Nakamura’s We weren’t aware that you have been here all this time, 2016, Gertrude Contemporary. Photo: Camilla Eustance

Off the Kerb

Keep traversing up Johnston street, entering into Collingwood. Across the road from the famous Keith Haring mural, you’ll find Off the Kerb Gallery.

Founded by Shini Pararajasingham, Off the Kerb is primarily centred around illustrative, painted, and photographic works. In early December, they’ll feature the Melbourne Polytechnic BA of Illustration graduates in an exhibition titled ‘Kindling’. For now, the light-filled gallery is exhibiting four artists/illustrators. There is no underlying theme, but as with most shows at the gallery, the work coheres – through its illustrative or portrait-based nature. MITCH, whose popular work occupies the initial space, creates beautiful, stylised designs – much of them on wood panel – featuring long-haired, plant-laden, cosmic belles. Upstairs you’ll find Naomi Waller’s explorations in ink and geometric design, and a bright white room full of prints that poetically investigate the colours of childhood through depictions of quirky, pretty girls. Occasionally the gallery exhibits more conceptual work, like Ramak Bamzar’s ‘In Pain’, which are a series of arresting portrait photographs. This gallery, full of trendy, eye-catching work, is perfect for a lightly-caffeinated afternoon stroll – perhaps after stopping by Everyday Coffee on the street opposite.

The current exhibitions are on until the 24th November

Collingwood Gallery

Up and around the corner, Collingwood Gallery sits happily amidst the hipster bustle of Smith street.

The commercial gallery is aimed at a slightly older audience, but features exciting artwork accessible to just about anyone. Established in 2000, the gallery features but is not limited to painted and photographic work. Entering, you’ll find a long, cool room partitioned into two sections. Currently, Eric Henshall’s exhibition ‘Nepo Rab’ is on display. The bright, vivacious work is a visual and sociological pleasure. All of the works are night scenes from bars exclusively in the swing-town city of New Orleans, and are filled with keenly observed activity. The works are somewhat neo-expressionist in tone and dance around a moody burgundy colour scheme interspersed with the luminous green of a pool table, the electric blue of a Bud Lite can, or the red of a ketchup bottle. Outside of the art on its walls, Collingwood Gallery also offers Life Drawing classes on Wednesday.

Nepo Rab is on until the 24th November

Erich Henshall's Portrait of Aya, 2016, in Collingwood Gallery. Photo: Camilla Eustance
Erich Henshall’s Portrait of Aya, 2016, Collingwood Gallery. Photo: Camilla Eustance
MITCH's exhibition Twoism, 2016, in Off the Kerb Gallery. Photo: Camilla Eustance
MITCH’s exhibition Twoism, 2016, Off the Kerb Gallery. Photo: Camilla Eustance

Gertrude Contemporary

Continue down Smith street and up the hill to Gertrude, where you’ll find Gertrude Contemporary.

The art gallery takes a conceptual leap after Collingwood gallery, but is best noted simply as evidence of just how wide the scope of contemporary art is. Supporting contemporary artists for over 30 years, the gallery is one of the artistic hot-spots of the Fitzroy area. The current show ‘Gertrude Studios’ exhibits some of the finest contemporary art practice and research that Melbourne has to offer. A pleasing mish-mash of objects and mediums command the space’s attention upon entering. One of the terrific qualities of the contemporary art is the freedom of medium, and the option to dematerialise entirely – something that all visits to Gertrude will demonstrate. The exhibition features textural abstracts, new media concerned with travel, technology, and the nature of art itself – as well as more performative works such as Hamishi Farah’s Statement of non-participation, Adelle Mills’ video work Family is a score, and Eric Demetriou’s Round Base: mysterious microphone in the middle of the space. To break up the whirring in your brain whilst you observe such art, why not blast out an anthem?

Gertrude Studios 2016 is open until the 10th December

By Camilla Eustance

Collingwood’s Easey’s takes dining to another level

A train commute home may have you dreaming of beer and burgers, but what if I told you you could have the burgers and beer in a train carriage? It may not be moving, let alone taking you closer to home, but it will take you to an elevated dining experience.

Perched five stories above the ground in Collingwood, Easey’s train carriage restaurant and bar – open since May 2015 – has fast become a must-do Melbourne attraction, and for more reasons than just the epic city views.

Photo: Anna Madden.

The trains are masterpieces in themselves, covered with colourful graffiti artworks on the outside and decked out like an old-school American diner on the inside.

Co-owner Jimmy Hurlston said he wanted to celebrate graffiti’s influence on Melbourne.

“The trains are kind of the holy grail of graffiti,” he explains of the Hitachi trains.

“Graffiti was always traditionally done on walls but graffiti writers through New York decided that the best way to spread their message was to paint on trains because then they travel all around the city.”

Photo: Caitlyn Leggett

That trend spread to Melbourne when graffiti was becoming more prevalent in the mid ’90s and early 2000s. It was around this time that the Hitachi trains were being decommissioned, and considered rare and special for graffiti artists to tag. They also held special significance as a ‘real Melbourne train’, with most being built in Newport.

“What we really wanted to do was celebrate graffiti as opposed to street art because there is a fairly distinct difference between the two of them. Graffiti is a rebellious thing, it’s an expression, and graffiti writers don’t get paid,” Hurlston says.

“Without graffiti there’s no street art and without that then people don’t get paid an exorbitant amount of money to paint murals and paint pretty pictures that everybody wants and that Melbourne has become so famous for.”

When the trains were being installed, Hurlston invited some of the most prolific Melbourne taggers of the time to come to Easey’s and do their thing. The artworks are updated regularly.

“The paintings change a lot. Like the streets it changes all the time,” he says, admitting they are due to be updated soon.

Aside from the fact that the whole building is a gallery to showcase graffiti art in itself, Hurlston hopes to open a gallery for graffiti artworks in the same building, with the first exhibitions soon to be announced.

Photo: Anna Madden

“It’s very Melbourne. Melbourne celebrates street art and that’s why a lot of people come to Melbourne -it’s become one of Melbourne’s biggest tourist attractions,” he says.

Whether you come for the street art or to dine in a train carriage, it’s the only place like it in the world that is open to the public. Shoreditch – a hipster neighbourhood in London – is the only other place you’ll find train carriages on a roof, but they host a studio for a street artist instead. Yawn.

The restaurant takes up one of three train carriages sitting on the roof of the purpose-built building. Easey’s is the only carriage running all the way through, with the other two being split in two and hosting showrooms, offices and boardrooms.

Come for the trains but you’ll stay for the food, with mouth-watering burgers becoming their specialty.

When Hurlston wanted to celebrate Melbourne he didn’t just mean the artworks.

Photo: Caitlyn Leggett

“I’m born and bred in Melbourne and this was an opportunity for me to celebrate all of the things I love about the city,” he says.

With an appreciation for the classic fish and chip shops, the restaurant put its own spin on things with the most famous burger being one that contains potato cakes and dim sims.

“It’s my little ode to the fish and chip shop whilst trying to progress it and change it,” he says.

An already-busy Easey’s means booking a table is encouraged, and with big plans ahead for this unique space, the crowds will only get bigger.

Now you have an ‘easey’ choice for your next dinner outing. Pun intended. Guaranteed, it will be the most delicious train journey of your life.

Check out Easey’s here.


Written by Caitlyn Leggett

More funding for Collingwood’s newest creative space

As rents rise in the inner north the Yarra community is continuously changing.

According to Marcus Westbury, Contemporary Arts Precinct (CAP) CEO, Collingwood was once a thriving and unique space for individual creatives who are increasingly being priced out of the area.

Which is why Westbury is thrilled at the State Government allocating a further $3 million into the Collingwood Arts precinct; the future creative hub in the heart of the Yarra.

“A lot of the creative community are being displaced, and [the precinct] will secure the creative diversity of the community,” says Westbury.

The new space will be located at the former Collingwood Technical School on Johnston Street in a bid to keep our most inspired artists around for the long haul.

More corridor #CAPCollingwood

A photo posted by Marcus Westbury (@unsungsongs) on


“[The project] has been a while coming,” says Westbury. “Everything could happen quicker… but I think things are progressing really well.”

The Collingwood Arts Precinct is set to open in 2018. While CAP is still in the process of handpicking Yarra’s best artists for the prized location, no tenants have been finalised for residencies as yet.

The site will be completely revamped; the three long-standing, near-derelict buildings are to be revived, including a bright, leafy courtyard for those whose inspiration comes from the outdoors.

“The courtyard will be a new public open space [as] Collingwood doesn’t really have many parks.” Westbury says.

In a statement to Creative Victoria Westbury describes the potential of the project to “embrace the life cycle of creativity, so not just a place for established organisations, but a place where people can start things, come together on short term projects or long term projects, providing flexibility for creative projects that don’t even know what they are yet.”

Escape #CAPCollingwood

A photo posted by Marcus Westbury (@unsungsongs) on


With recent cuts to the arts sector, the creative hub is a welcome initiative. Along with Creative Victoria, several Yarra institutions strongly supported the project, including Gertrude Contemporary gallery, the Centre for Contemporary Photography and Lucy Guerin Inc.  

Last week Creative Victoria announced a further $3 million investment  in the project after an initial injection of $4 million. With the additional $4 million raised in donations, a total of $11 million has so far been committed to the precinct.

True to form, The City of Yarra has enthusiastically backed the project, working with CAP to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

“Our creative industries and artistic communities are integral to our city’s identity, not just in Yarra but across greater Melbourne,” says Yarra City Council Mayor, Cr Robert Colanzi. “We are delighted that our local arts scene is being recognized and supported by the Government in this way.”

Far from being artistically barren, Collingwood is still abundant in its creative arts culture. 

For those looking for inspiration, galleries such as the The Collingwood Art Gallery and Lindberg galleries are both worth a visit with new exhibitions starting early August. In addition the James Makin Gallery on Cambridge street, which showcases contemporary pieces by up-an-coming artists and well-known artists alike, are this year celebrating their 10-year anniversary with an exhibition opening on the 18th of August that is sure to impress.

Feature image courtesy of Marcus Westbury.

By Kathryn Lewis

Lights, Colour, Projection: How GSPF is coaxing us out into the frosty night.

Fitzroy is once again bursting with colour thanks to the annual Gertrude Street Projection Festival.

The ten day festival transforms ordinary buildings and alleyways into living works of art.

Together, artists and community members collaborate to bring innovative pieces to public spaces, solidifying community ties while promoting new and unique methods of expression.

%27Systematic Sanctions%27 by Skunk Control - credit Photographer Sandra Filipovski
Systematic Sanctions, by Skunk Control. Photographer, Sandra Filipovski

Perched behind shop windows, artists use projectors to light up footpaths, laneways and shopfronts in fluorescent images and patterns.

Among the most anticipated sites are The Gertrude Hotel and the Atherton Towers, which due to their sheer size, are the backdrop to the festivals best and most creative works.

The event will continue until Sunday the 24th of July, running every night from 6 pm until midnight and reaching 38 sites across the Fitzroy hub.

The GSPF has been a great success for the Yarra precinct with the event attracting thousands of visitors since its conception in 2007.

Sponsoring Manager, Jonathan Homsey, who is a featured artist in this year’s festival, believes the project is of significant importance to the Yarra community.

“The ultimate purpose of the festival is to bring people together and showcase projected media art.” Says Homsey.

“In a world where we could survive singularly, it is so beautiful to [be] reminded [of] the resonance and magic of people, nature and the energy that it creates as we huddle up to bask in the projections.”


In the interest of community cohesion, the GSPF caters to more than just those seeking colourful creations. While local restaurants add their own flavour to the line up, live street performances and workshops add movement, music and interaction to the space.

“It can be seen through this year’s events, a mixture of performances, workshops, installations, live bands and even some yoga,” Says Homsey.

The natural diversity of the Yarra ensures a kaleidoscope of ages, cultures and identities make up the GSPF audience.

%27Apeiron%27 by Kate Geck - credit Photographer Emma MacKenzie
‘Apeiron’ by Kate Geck. Photographer, Emma MacKenzie

It is these differences that make their common admiration of each and every artist, performer and contributor, a success.

“People give a variety of reactions, a rainbow of oohs and aahs, [they’re] enamoured by the projections. My personal favourite is seeing the reactions of the children,” Says Homsey.

For Homsey, knowing that the GSPF has become an iconic part of Fitzroy’s culture makes it all worthwhile.

“[It’s now] a part of Fitzroy’s calendar. From the commuters going home to the tourists who come in from regional Victoria… Gertrude Street Projection Festival is an annual conversation piece and way for the community to bond.”

The festival is a free event and runs every night until the 24th of July. More information can be found at: http://gspf.com.au/

*Feature Image courtesy of GSPF. Artist Kate Geck poses in front of her creation ‘Apeiron’: Photograph by Bernie Phelan

By Jamal Ben Haddou