Guildford Lane is a collection of two-story buildings reminiscent of the Melbourne of yore with a sprinkling of the urban contemporary added for good measure. Quaint buildings decorated with haphazard graffiti offer very little indication of visual arts treasures that hide behind their red-brick facade. Towering skyscrapers menace overhead as an ode to the varying layers of history – past and present – that reside there. It’s almost as though some inception-style architect has manufactured the view. Old-world it may be, but it is also fast becoming the nucleus for Melbourne’s visual arts. Here’s a rundown of the galleries you may encounter should you decide to take a trip down this charming side street.
Fehily Temporary - Level 2, 29 Guildford Lane
Collector and gallerist Lisa Fehily has paired up with curator and ex-Next Wave director Jeff Khan to organise a series of one-off projects at the Fehily Loft on Guildford Lane. The space opened to the public in October this year and will play host to a series of informal exhibitions and events. The aim is to break down some of the barriers between the art and the audience, and will dismantle the art-making process by transplanting each artist’s studio into the exhibition space. In a relaxed environment, visitors are encouraged to sit down, listen in on special talks and interact with the artists themselves.
The Fehily Temporary program will run until late December.
Screen Space - 30 Guildford Lane
A contemporary gallery that runs rent-free to artists and curators, Screen Space lives up to its namesake by specifically focussing on art that uses screen-based technology. Open since September 2010, the gallery is still in its bunny-hopping stages, but as they are holding an open call for exhibition proposals later this year they will be one to watch in 2011. They will tickle the fancy of those interested in filmmaking and video art.
Urban Codemakers - Flanigan Lane
Urban Codemakers are possibly the most cryptic of our selection and are not really a gallery per se. They are actually located on Flanigan lane, but as they technically back on to Guildford Lane we can include them. Commissioned by the City of Melbourne as part of the Laneway Commissions for 2010, their activities range from community consultations, advising councils on city planning and researching the role of the increasingly dominant and interactive media into shaping our urban space. Using an experimental approach that draws upon game design, semiotics and generative systems for urban planning, these guys are certainly pushing the boundaries of the oft-dull town planning meetings. Check out their manifesto on their website.
Utopian Slumps - 33 Guildford Lane
Melissa Loughnan, the director of Utopian Slumps, has overseen the move of the once non-profit curator-run artist initiative to the commercial version that we see now on the ground floor of 33 Guildford Lane. The heritage-listed building, where architectural firm Oculus and arts website ArtsHub also reside, maintains its Collingwood-warehouse style roots. You can gather from the title of the opening exhibition of the new space, Territorial Pissings, that the space maintains its commitment to the experimentation of its artists without limits. The current exhibition, The Painting Group, opened last week and aims to bring together nine Australian artists who have been supporting each others’ work via a regular ‘painting support group’ over the last four years.
Guildford Lane Gallery - 20-24 Guildford Lane
This is the mother ship, the title character and the gallery that most of us would associate with the name Guildford before the lane itself. Guildford Lane is one of the primo for-hire contemporary exhibitions spaces in Melbourne. The century-old furniture factory plays host to jazz nights, experimental exhibitions, parties and more. It’s also incredibly supportive of recent gradate exhibitions from design courses around the city. Check out their current vertical garden project (at the Flanigan Lane entry), or go check out some jazz. Just mind the dog Ruby, she bites.