NGV Contemporary Design & Architecture – Enabling Innovation


Director Tony Ellwood, National Gallery of Victoria

Tony Ellwood, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) recently held an event at NGV Australia. The Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square was packed with a vibrant crowd all excited to hear him announce three new initiatives.

The main event was the establishment of a whole new division of the NGV – a curatorial department of Contemporary Design and Architecture plus the 2015 Melbourne Art Book Fair and the NGV Triennial.

Melbourne Art Book Fair will be held 1st to 3rd May, 2015 and will celebrate the diversity of Melbourne’s literary community past and present, showcasing local and national publishers.

Free talks, forums and performances as well as spaces to gather and enjoy life will be part of the ‘design experience’ by Melbourne Architectural firm Fold Theory.

NGV Triennial will take place in summer 2017 and every three years afterwards. It will have ‘fewer artists, but bigger gestures’, a large-scale celebration of contemporary art design and architecture from around the world.

Its focus on art, design and architecture, as well as fashion, film, performance and a variety of cultural practices is meant to distinguish it from other large-scale events around the world.


Ewan McEioin, Senior Curator, Dept. of Contemporary Design and Architecture, NGV

NGV Contemporary Design and Architecture will be aimed at positioning the NGV, Melbourne and Australia firmly on the world stage as a leading hub for contemporary art, design and architecture.

Tony Elwood is very keen to expand the NGV’s ongoing collaboration with designers, architects, and consultants in the field that started with their stunning blockbuster show last year Melbourne Now.

Its engagement with visual artists and creative practitioners profoundly contributed to creating a permanent place that has a unique and dynamic cultural identity.

Apparently still ongoing, its success and subsequent input from working with and listening to the public has informed that they also needed to expand the institution in a whole new direction.

Its two appointed leaders Tony Ellwood announced are being funded with philanthropic support provided by The Hugh D.T. Williamson Foundation.

The vision is to “…sustain another site’ to house it if there’s an appetite to do it”, Tony Ellwood said.

Ewan McEioin and Simone Le Amon both have impressive credentials. They will bring fresh perspective, new ideas and valued connections to the gallery.

We could say these two curators are enablers of economic, social and ecological innovation. The vision they have embraced is about “creating an inspiring future: enriching our understanding of art and life”.

McEioin has worked as an editor, design strategist, educator, curator and publisher.


Simone Le Amon, Senior Curator, Dept. of Contemporary Design and Architecture, NGV

Le Amon has been a visual artist, working in industrial design, as an industry consultant, writer, lecturer and curator.

Their work will have an impact immediately with their project ‘I Dips Me Lid’, a theatrically inspired re-imagined canopy of creativity offering ‘shade, retreat and a place for performance and workshops. It will be set up in the NGV’s Grollo Equiset garden for 2015.

In 2016 the NGV will open its Design Project Space so that it can present a diverse program of projects contribute to debate around ‘key ideas and issues in design and architecture’.

The pair will work closely with the local and international design industries collecting, presenting and exploring the most interesting trajectories of design and architecture.

Knowing the market and taking a lead from ground-breaking companies such as Foster + Partners in England whose leader Norman Foster de-constructed a skyscraper in consultation with his design team before re-designing it again to suit modern business practice.

Well versed in collaborating and communicating with leading designers, artists and manufactures, they will also assist in showcasing the very best products from both local and international designers.

The confirmation of this new department at the NGV would have been very welcome news in an industry intent on reimaging the modern age.

Reinventing the relationship between the old and the new and keeping the best of its identity from the past and reinventing it for the future is a challenge and considered cross-cultural and institutional conversations very important.

Those who lead public institutions have a big responsibility for ensuring that its not a case of either or but both.

Honouring tradition and building for the future is a balancing act to be sure.

INST023543 (1)

I Dips Me Lid, an illustration by John Wardle architects of their 2015 garden installation, courtesy National Gallery Victoria

Truly remarkable buildings must be innovative, brilliantly spacious and imaginative, functional and practical while challenging for all those who work within its walls.

Their spaces should be all about bearing a relationship to the body on one hand and to the imagination on the other and re-defining how we go about living.

Hopefully this will be without clutter, although richly rewarded in visual terms so that we can continue to operate at our best in the world stretching out before us.

Tony Ellwood commented,

‘The NGV has a rich history and association with design and architecture. Our renewed approach is integral to the NGV’s thinking, with design permeating all areas and platforms of the institution – not only through our collection, exhibitions and programs – but also through architecture, way finding, exhibition, retail, hospitality and digital design. Ewan and Simone’s contribution will bring vitality and bold ideas to all of these arenas. ’

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015





Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.