If someone were to capture a time-lapse video of the upcoming event season at MPavilion – a public space that’s redesigned annually, this year by acclaimed architect Glenn Murcutt – it’d be a thing of eccentric beauty.
We’d see morning yoga and sound-bath sessions give way to Friday drinks with tunes by Melbourne DJs and musicians. We’d watch seating ebb and flow as the pavilion transformed for different crowds, for talks and workshops and readings. One day the pavilion would be surrounded by bikes, on another day it’d be filled with local honeycomb for a honey-fuelled poetry session. The surrounding parklands would fill with dogs of all sizes, ready for a group walk through the city streets, and later, a dance performance would morph into an orchestral one.
It sounds almost chaotic, but MPavilion – now in its sixth year – is a well-oiled machine. There are more than 400 events happening in the space over five months, from November through March. “We’ve got some very extensive Excel spreadsheets going on,” says program manager Jen Zielinska with a laugh.
Every year MPavilion starts fresh, bringing on a new architect to not only design the structure, but also to kickstart the series of events that’ll happen within it.
Each month, a different theme will tie in with the values and ideals that underlie Murcutt’s extensive body of work. November is all about Australian design, identity and cultural collaboration; December is centred around connection; January’s theme is “unplugged”; February is “earth”; and March is “knowledge”.
Zielinska says she’s excited by this year’s structure because it’ll allow for deeper conversations about the environment, sustainability, the transfer of knowledge, the ways we interact with each other and the world we’re in.
Starting in December, MPavilion’s new book club will happen once a month – each book will relate to that month’s theme and be available to read at an on-site library. “There’ll be a facilitator and the bar will be open so it will be a very relaxed evening session,” says Zielinska.
Archibald Weekend is a series based around portraiture and identity. In addition to a behind-the-scenes look at the Archibald Prize, the most prominent portraiture award in the country, there’ll be a zine-making workshop hosted by Liminal Magazine; a kid-friendly “bad texta drawings” workshop with artist Alice Oehr; and a collaboration between a life drawing teacher and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, which will see participants drawing the musicians as they play.
Other fun goings-on for little ones include classes with artist Beci Orpin where they can make their own pet rock or leaf animal; gardening workshops; a wonky playground made from recycled materials; and a GIF-making session.
One idea that’ll be unpacked in February – earth month – is renewable energy. “We’re exploring different ways [MPavilion] can go off the grid,” Zielinska says. “And one of the things we’re doing is we’re having a climate emergency cinema.” It’ll take place over three nights, but in order to watch the films you’ll need to generate electricity by riding a stationary bike.
And MPavilion isn’t just for humans – for those looking to shake up their routine, there’ll be a series of monthly walks in conjunction with Tom & Captain, a local dog-walking company. Meet at the pavilion, then explore the city streets and laneways with other dog owners and their pups. “It’s amazing because the whole Queen Victoria Gardens gets filled with dogs,” says Zielinska.
The Friday Night Sunset series is a chance to wind down at the end of the week with a drink and listen to performances by local DJs and musicians. The music will vary each week and the full program is still to be announced, but keep an eye out for a session where Uber drivers will be hitting the decks as part of a bigger project about the gig economy by artist collective APHIDS.
There’ll also be gigs and talks as part of Melbourne Music Week; sunrise yoga; meditation and sound-bath sessions; an “Empathy Museum” designed to show us what life is like from someone else’s perspective; and – of course – an abundance of architecture talks, workshops and panels.
MPavilion will be open to the public from November 14, 2019 until March 22, 2020. Many events are free, but some require bookings. Find the full program here.