Melbourne is a city that rewards curiosity. Its network of boutique laneway shopping and edgy, tucked-away bars may have become a tourist cliché but only because it’s true. The same goes for art and design. The city’s big name institutions won’t disappoint, but for those more intimate, bolder experiences it pays to have local knowledge.
While the CBD’s laneway art is well known, the inner-city suburb of Fitzroy has street art that never fails to excite. Ephemeral and ever changing, you never know what you may find in Rose, Napier or Greeves Streets. Artist Loretta Lizzio, 31, has been applying her fine art talents to walls here for the past two years. It’s a chance, she says, to break out of the studio, battle the elements and work in a different medium. “And I just love getting to deal with the public a lot more […] It’s a lot of fun.” To see one of her largest and most recent works, catch the Upfield Line train to Anstey Station in Brunswick. While you’re in the neighbourhood, drop by Juddy Rollers art gallery to
see works from street artists brought in from the outside.
Creative director Lou Weis, 43, whose furniture and object design studio features at NGV International’s Design Storytellers: The Work of Broached Commissions until February, has also lived in Sydney, Amsterdam and New York. He says Melbourne’s design is a product of its history: a “brutal” land-grab by the Port Phillip Association in the 1830s. “It’s always been difficult to protect the heritage skin in Melbourne because it’s always been a modern, transactional, urban environment.” But there’s still plenty of beauty left if you know where to look. Weis recommends a visit to the University of Melbourne to see Newman College, considered one of the best examples in the world of renowned architect Walter Burley Griffin (and while you’re nearby, check out the gothic, concrete forest-like pillars of University Square Underground car park, a location used in Mad Max).
Weis’ other recommendations include the Lyon Housemuseum in Kew (a private residence that periodically turns into a public art museum), Burnham Beeches in Sherbrooke (a 1930s mansion in the process of being given a new life by Vue de monde chef Shannon Bennett) and the minimalist, marble restaurant bar at Di Stasio in St Kilda (a collaboration between artist Callum Morton, architect Robert Simeoni and graphic designer David Pigeon).
Local artist Adam Cruickshank recommends visiting the quirky Nicholas Building to see a host of artists, makers and galleries, such as the artist-run gallery Blindside. Cruickshank also likes True Estate, another artist-run space above The Alderman bar, in East Brunswick.
The bold atmosphere doesn’t stop there – in Carlton you’ll be rewarded with a visit to artist Michael Kelly’s café The Heart of Carlton, where you can catch up with his unique works in lath, a wood he reclaims from plasterboard walls that have been demolished.
And finally, after seeing what’s on at Collingwood galleries LON and Backwoods, Multiplicity architect Natasha Wheatland suggests a stop at the “hard-to-find” (and “way-too-cool”) 12-seater bar Above Board.
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