The Melbourne Art Fair may have been cancelled after a number of galleries withdrew from exhibiting, but visual-arts culture will go on show in the city nevertheless with the opening of SPRING1883 on August 17.

Over four days the beds, baths, drawers and tables in rooms across four floors of The Hotel Windsor will be filled with contemporary art in one of the most unusual and engaging free art programs in the CBD.

“We are offering the boutique version of what an art fair is supposed to be in a pretty unique and collegial atmosphere,” says SPRING1883 co-founder Geoff Newton.

The hotel-based art fair will feature a strong international component; 25 per cent of the participating galleries are from overseas, including Kansas (New York), Grey Noise (Dubai), Southard Reid (London) and Hamish McKay (Wellington).

“One of the dealers said, ‘We do the white-cube thing every other day of the week, so it’s nice we can it in a really cordial atmosphere’,” says Newton.

Melbourne’s Tolarno Galleries will present an installation by Ben Quilty, and a performance by Anastasia Klose. Sydney’s Alaska Projects, which usually runs out of a Kings Cross car park, will present new work spanning ceramics, textiles and photography. Murray White Room will show portraits and table sculptures in the Hotel Windsor grand suite. Fellow Melbourne gallery Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art will present work by artists including Juan Davila, Alison Burton and Polixeni Papapetrou.

In its first iteration in 2014, SPRING1883 was lauded as a fresh and original contribution to Melbourne contemporary arts culture, and the 2016 program is equally eclectic under the curation of Kate Barber, Vasili Kaliman, Vikki McInnes and Geoff Newton.

This year’s event includes a “performance suite” curated by Mark Feary from Gertrude Contemporary and featuring the collaborative work of dancers, choreographers and artists. The SPRING1883 team has also joined forces with the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, TarraWarra Museum of Art and Gertrude Contemporary to offer a comprehensive program for overseas visitors to experience Melbourne’s contemporary art scene.

“It’s about commerce, but it’s nice it can be done in such a relaxed and friendly atmosphere,” says Newton.

SPRING1883 shows at The Hotel Windsor from August 17–21. Entry is free.

There’s a range of events happening around the city from August 16–21 as part of Melbourne Art Week, including NotFair, Flair and FUSE.