Melbourne Now – All Art is About the Art of Now

Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Tony Ellwood at the launch of the Monet Exhibition photograph by Belinda Watsford

The countdown is nearly over and the Director of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Tony Ellwood, is all set to launch Melbourne Now, his landmark exhibition for the Melbourne Summer of 2013.

Ellwood has been the leader of an active and expressive circle of people, who have helped  him to creatively imagine and complete Melbourne Now, a complex and creative concept which he has nurtured through development and has brought to fruition. It is a unique show that will reaffirm Melbourne’s place as the number one ‘arts capital’ of Australia.

Commencing on November 22nd 2013 , the exhibition runs until 23 March 2014. It will be on display in two galleries, The NGV Australia (based at Federation Square) and the NGV International, which is the main gallery on St Kilda Road.

The NGV International building was designed in 1959, completed in 1968 and then renovated in 2003. It has long been a controversial landmark of Melbourne architecture.

Back in the day it was major work, one imagined by noted Australian architect, Roy Grounds, who, together with his former partners Robin Boyd and Frederick Romberg, was one of the most influential architects of his generation, pioneering modernist design.

It has settled into the Melbourne cityscape well, and is surrounded by other leading arts institutions and centres. It’s an exciting hub for excellence in the visual and performance arts.

The NGV building was, and still is, a statement of modernity, one that continues to reflect in its street side pools and waterfall window, the city with the ‘unique and dynamic cultural identity’*.

The Melbourne Now show is all about exciting creative thinking outside the box. It will make the point that each of us, are part of a discrete but interacting life support system, whose constant conflicts shape our interactions with each other and our experience of the world at large.

The concept of this show is ambitious and its management an immense responsibility. But everyone involved, under their Director’s able leadership, has their shoulders to the wheel.

It is a celebration of art, architecture, design, performance and cultural practice and will, without doubt encourage pro-social behaviour while providing endless opportunities for community empowerment.

Trugo-GoGo, Fables go Pop and MARLARKY are all waiting to be discovered by kids at the NGV. They are three of a series of children’s commissions, led by artists and developed in collaboration with the Gallery. They reflect a new approach to inspire and engage children of all ages with ideas, art and design.

Tony Ellwood hopes visitors to Melbourne Now will be able to explore the complexity of the city’s creativity. “Why do we have to set up a competition between contemporary art and historic art” is one question Tony Ellwood asks.

All art is about the art of now, a visual conversation that takes place between the viewer and the artist and the society in which they live.

Learning about the art of today or the art of yesterday should be a main focus for all educational institutions in Australia, because it is a visual representation of where we have been and where we can go if only we dare to imagine it.

One perfect example of this concept is how cartoonists for years imagined in their drawings, which published daily in newspapers and in monthly and periodical magazines, man journeying to the moon.

No one at the time ever thought that it really could happen until the newly elected American President John Kennedy declared a national goal of “landing a man on the Moon” by the end of the decade and made it a pledge when he said…’we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’

Meredith Turnbull Objekte X, 2012–13 brass, timber, steel, sterling silver, balsa and acrylic paint Courtesy of the artist, Melbourne

Being a ‘Creative’ means much more today than just the term ‘art or artists’, most people’s understanding of the word previously. It’s all about social and economic innovation, inspiration, imagination and having a long term vision.

It is very definitely about thinking outside, and beyond the box.

All people, regardless of race, ethnicity and creed, who live in Australia from the 21st century onward, have an opportunity to help to define and shape the continuing development of our nation and its multi cultural concepts.

It is all about building our social capital; learning to value and respect that all our relationships (social), whatever their nature, all have considerable value (capital). We cannot do that without respect for each other’s stories.

Melbourne Now will go a long way, contributing creatively to an ongoing dialogue, helping to close divisive gaps that exist between diverse groups of peoples integral to our population, so that they do not feel they are on the outside looking in.

The exhibition Melbourne Now is a legacy project for the NGV, which is meant to have a lasting impact on its collection and audiences as well as the relationship it fosters between the arts community and the city of Melbourne.

It has the full support of the Victorian Government and the Melbourne City Council because it benefits the city and its people economically, socially, spiritually and creatively.

Drawing Class, National Gallery Victoria 2013

Talking about and discussing the changes that our society will have to make in the future can take place within the realm of art.

It is a window on our world that will only open new and exciting doors of opportunity for many people.

Be sure to bring your family and friends to visit Melbourne Now this summer.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2013

*Ref: Quotes – Tony Ellwood, Director NGV, Gallery Magazine November, December 2013

Melbourne Now

NGV Australia & NGV International

22nd November 2013 – 23 March 2014

300 artists and projects, as well as architectural and design projects and commissions, commissions for kids and families and a community hall, which will host a rotating program, encouraging community expression from choirs, workshops, multicultural groups, performance artists, cake decorators, philosophers and poets, among many other activities, public programs and events.

Melbourne Now is a snapshot of the creative city dealt with in a collaborative and creative way.

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