Major art markets around the world, from Art Basel to Frieze, have spawned numerous satellite shows. So why should Melbourne – host to a 25-year-old biennial mega fair – be different? That’s the thinking behind Australia’s newest art bazaar, Spring 1883.

Geoff Newton (Neon Parc), Vasili Kaliman (Station), and Vikki McInnes (Sarah Scout Presents) have assembled 20 local and international contemporary galleries to exhibit at the Hotel Windsor for four days beginning August 14, coinciding with the Melbourne Art Fair.

“It’s about that bigger dialogue to do with art and not to do, first and foremost, with making money,” Newton says. “I know – that sounds crazy.”

“It’s the difference between walking into a boutique dress shop and a department store,” he adds. “You’re going to get a much more involved, one-on-one interaction with the work at the boutique.”

Spring 1883 won’t adhere to the traditional, booth-style set-up of the larger art fairs. Instead galleries will adapt their exhibits to individual hotel suites, and some artists are creating site-specific pieces for the show such as bedspreads and doormats. “There will be some real surprises,” Newton says. “It won’t be that ‘white cube’ feel. People feel intimidated walking into those spaces.”

On the roster you’ll find local representatives such as Melbourne’s Utopian Slumps and Sutton Gallery, Sydney’s Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, and foreigners including Auckland’s Michael Lett, New York’s Foxy Production and Berlin’s ARNDT.

“Before the GFC, when I used to go to art fairs, a few galleries were still actually focused on presenting work and presenting ideas,” Newton says. “Obviously we all want to sell something, but I think there is a greater chance here for works that don’t have an immediate commercial outcome linked to this fair.”

Spring 1883 runs from August 14–August 17 at the Hotel Windsor. Admission is free.

Spring 1883 at the Hotel Windsor
111 Spring Street, Melbourne

Thurs August 14 to Sat August 16, noon–6pm
Sun August 17 noon–4pm