Melbourne Now 2023

Entering its second iteration, Melbourne Now opened at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia in March with a kaleidoscopic array of free exhibitions. Encompassing painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, video, jewellery, photography, virtual reality, product design, fashion and publishing, the visionary exhibition is an immersive, sensorially engaging deep-dive into the contemporary vernacular.

With over 200 projects on display throughout the entire Ian Potter Centre, as well as a thought-provoking program of talks and public events, Melbourne Now is an opportunity to view the vibrant diversity of work by eminent Victorian artists and designers who are altering the global creative landscape. We’ve taken a moment to highlight a few projects to help guide your journey through an experience which places a documentary lens on Melbourne in the here and now.

Kerstin Thompson Architects Installation view of Broadmeadows Town Hall, 2020 © Kerstin Thompson Architects Photo: John Gollings

Civic Architecture draws attention to the need for more intent behind the rapid development of Greater Melbourne. As the urban landscape spills further and further to re-establish constantly what denotes inner and outer factions, the aesthetic and pragmatic development of the built environment can often become reactionary rather than resolved. Civic Architecture is a survey of five award-winning civic projects by Melbourne-based architects and landscape architects that have been catalysts for transformation in different neighbourhoods including Dandenong, Broadmeadows and Geelong.

Installation view of Taree Mackenzie’s work Pepper’s ghost effect, circles, 4 variations 2023 on display as part of the Melbourne Now exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March - 20 August 2023 Image: Tom Ross

Entering the ground floor of The Ian Potter Centre, Taree Mackenzie’s transcendental Pepper’s ghost effect compositions are one of the first encounters at Melbourne Now. The project, which traverses video and installation, explores the perceptual effects of colour, light and space, luring visitors through in a tantalising display of visual mastery. Inspired by an illusory effect originating in 1800’s theatre which leverages light and colour to manifest a ‘ghostly’ figure, Mackenzie’s new commission poetically laces viewer and artwork to establish a receptive state of mind ready and open for more.

Zhu Ohmu Saudade #1 2018 Glazed ceramics 52 x. 40 a 40cm Photo: Zhu Ohmu

Born in Taipei, Zhu Ohmu is a ceramist now living and working in Melbourne. The graceful fluidity and intoxicating imperfection of her work encapsulates the solid resurgence of handmade and artisanal pieces, pieces that emerge from ethical, slow methodologies which are equal parts instinct and evolution. Ohmu’s vessels find affinity with nature, borrowing from the composition of wasps nests. Marrying structural integrity, technology through the employment of ceramic 3D printers, rudimentary natural form and artistry Zhu Ohmu’s work elicits a deeply elemental response which whispers of a yearning to reconnect with tradition, culture and nature.

Installation view of No House Style on display as part of the Melbourne Now exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March - 20 August 2023. Image: Tom Ross

Once lauded as a country too young to have established its own defining housing style, Australia is maturing into a place where no one standard dominates creative output generally and, specific to houses, where a melting pot of cultural influences and design trends have begun to slowly morph into an entirely unique brand spirit. No House Style explores this concept of Melbourne’s brand as seen through the work of a collection of leading and emerging Melbourne-based furniture designers. The project comes together in an installation referencing a domestic interior, backdropped by a tableaux of images of residential architecture in Victoria and featuring the works of such architects and designers as Clare Cousins, Edition Office, Jordan Fleming, Marta Figueiredo, Kennedy Nolan and Den Holm.

P.A.M. (PERKS AND MINI) SS23 "Floating Worlds" Mens Look 2022-23 © P.A.M. (Perks And Mini) Photo: Nadeemy Betros Styling: Sarah Pritchard

Unlike any other creative discipline, fashion has the capacity to reflect our personal style, act as a documenter of social, cultural and economic times, form a psychological armour and portray a visual metric representing how we feel and how we wish to be perceived. Our clothing choices are a form of communication to those all around us. From traditional adornments, fast fashion and trend, the way we dress and the source of the clothes we wear is a pillar of modern day living. Fashion Now represents the work of eighteen independent Melbourne designers whose work is a marker of both contemporary life and a snapshot of the changing values and new directions underpinning local fashion practice in 2023. At a time when the fashion industry is deeply tangled in environmental commentary, this exhibition highlights methodologies and practises which herald a new era for the industry.

Julia Ciccarone The Other World, 2021 oil on dibond 70.5 x 60.0cm © Julia Ciccarone and Niagara Galleries Photo: Mark Ashkanasy

Melbourne Now runs until 20th August, 2023. Words by Tiffany Jade.