Director Bronwyn Johnson says the fair will provide a snapshot of contemporary Australian and international art, offering a massive showcase of over 80 galleries, 900 artists and 3000 works that are expected to draw a steady crowd of more than 30,000 people from all over the country and the world. Johnson says their aim is to ensure the livelihoods and careers of living artists are protected and supported. “We are really intent on embracing the whole spectrum of art,” she comments. “We recognise that this is where many artists begin their careers, so we need to provide lots of other opportunities.”
One such piece is a special commission from the Melbourne Art Foundation by Australian ‘pop painter’ Jon Campbell, whose vernacular love affair will take centre stage at the Exhibition Building. A range of events – including free guided tours, forums and public lectures, an educational learning space and Project Rooms for emerging artists – will make sure there something to suit all interests across the four-day fair.
Keen to capitalise on the opportunity the fair offers, Melbourne media arts gallery Experimenta will take the iconic Exhibition Building itself as canvas for its Project Room pop-up installation and interactive experience. Experimenta director Jen Mizuik says the fair approached them with a simple brief: think big and think grand. They have chosen three works – two new commissions and one existing piece, altered slightly – that will fill and surround an old shipping container Experimenta have made their home for the event.
“The beauty of our project is that it’s in the open – it’s temporary and really urban, and it’s on the outside of the building,” she says. Praising the support of the fair, Mizuik is also excited about encouraging other artists to think differently about their own practice. “More and more people are collecting digital media,” she says. “We don’t sell art, we are an exhibition organisation, but it is really nice to get the audience to ask questions about the possibility of each piece.”
Buy a ticket to the exclusive preview night event ‘Vernissage’ on Wednesday August 4, or head along from August 5–8 when the fair is open to the public.
Melbourne Art Fair
Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton Gardens, Melbourne