Since Sunday, the Cremorne silos underneath the iconic Nylex Clock have housed Untold Melbourne, a one-time-only three-level art installation.
The immersive new show features 25 original pieces of art from local and international artists including Ben Eine, Lister, Elle, The London Police, INSA, Ben Frost, Adnate and Julian Clavijo. The work created by each artist for Untold Melbourne will go under the hammer in a charity auction, with proceeds benefitting the Reach Foundation, a youth-run charity empowering young people, through workshops and community support networks. Organisers hope to raise $1 million.
“Reach is all about inspiring young people to be the best versions of themselves. For some of our youth, street art is inspiring and it gives them some element of hope to tell their stories,” Reach CEO Chris Naish tells Broadsheet. “We want young people to open up and tell their own untold stories.”
In exchange for their time and work, the artists’ expenses have been covered and 30 per cent of profits from signed, limited edition prints sold in the gift shop will go back into the artists’ pockets.
The work contributed to Untold Melbourne has been curated by Bristol creative Roland Henry, but the Malt District group, which owns the Cremorne silos site, is ultimately behind the show.
While funds raised by the program unquestionably contribute to a noble cause, it also functions as publicity for a major property development and was initially planned to feature 300 artists. Henry had to disabuse them of that notion. “They had to bring their expectations down a little bit,” Henry tells Broadsheet. “I wanted to give people a much more immersive interactive experience rather than just paint five murals on the wall and call it an arts precinct.”
Henry is familiar with managing the sometimes competing demands of artists and developers. His creative consultancy Studio Supply works with brands, artists and creative professionals, but he has also worked as the managing editor of independent, quarterly urban art magazine Very Nearly Almost. His work has made him sensitive to the at times awkward collision of art and commerce.
“It’s not always a comfortable place for artists to work with developers, but this is specifically creating a positive opportunity for the charity,” says Henry. “We’ve specifically created an environment where [the artists] are not just being invited down to paint a car park wall and not just being drained of their time and resources, [but to] provide a point of difference for them to create 3D immersive things they wouldn’t ordinarily be asked to do, or given the resources and time to create.”
One work Henry is particularly fond of comes from Sydney artist OneJessa.
“She’s created an amazing, interactive pink-hair monster of a chandelier. It’s called Muffy,” says Henry. “You can step inside it and it kind of growls at you and sings lullabies to you.”
Elsewhere you’ll find Your Ad Here by Australian artist Ben Frost (not to be confused with the Australian musician), a work featuring a framed human skeleton that’s periodically vacuum-sealed in black latex. You might ask what a bondage-referencing skeleton has to do with helping disadvantaged young people, but Henry has an answer to this too.
“This story is about the constant bombardments we have in society and the pressures we have to conform to specific brand directions and requirements,” he says. “There’s eating disorders we have, there are body dismorphias that we develop through constant bombardments of advertising and these pressures to conform or buy the next new thing. And those pressures are relevant to young people more than most.”
Untold Melbourne runs 10am–8pm daily (including ANZAC Day) until Sunday April 29. Book tickets here.