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Heroines' Petticoats Exhibition @ The Dirty Dozen

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Find fascinating artworks in this underground gallery
An underground commuter walkway dating from the 1950's is probably not the first place you'd expect to find an art exhibition. However, amongst the salmon pink tiled walls and art deco subway chic of Campbell Arcade, this is exactly what you will find.

Heroines Petticoat exhibition Dirty Dozen
What lies beneath? A subway-chic mini art gallery, that's what! (Image Credit:

The underground art space, known as The Dirty Dozen, comprises a series of display cabinets that originally served as advertising space. Since 2015 this subterranean mini-gallery has been managed by Creative Spaces, a City of Melbourne initiative, with the aim of engaging commuters, encouraging them to slow down and experience something different or new, on their way through the arcade.

One such exhibition is Heroines' Petticoats which explores the lives of Australian women from the late 1800's to the present day, examining how the representation of Australian women has been shaped by political, industrial and philosophical influences.

Heroines Petticoats exhibition Dirty Dozen
A new exhibition at The Dirty Dozen gallery space (Image credit:

The exhibition is a collaboration between four female artists from Melbourne,
namely Kelly Sullivan, Kirsti Lenthall (Empire of Stuff), Gigi Gordes and Liz Sonntag (Tinky). With varied art practices including sculpture, painting, collage, mixed media and miniature installations, the artists bring a wide range of skills and fascinating works to this collaborative exhibition.

Within the twelve historic display cabinets, the artists will be celebrating the strength and diversity of Australian women throughout history. The various depictions of women will be interpreted by the voice of this new generation of female artists who have not forgotten them.

Artist Kelly Sullivan reveals the inspiration behind the show.

"The long-standing supporters for women's empowerment are invigorated and are feeling the urgency for change. How better than to demonstrate through the uniting of four women artists, coming together to convey the history of our predecessors and honour the women who defied gender and societal expectations and charted their own course."

As for the audience Kelly says, "We want to prolong a passer-by and enrich their insight with a greater understanding and respect for women that is becoming an obvious feature of the universal public dialogue."

If these images are anything to go by there will certainly be plenty to engage the audience and give them something to ponder both during their visit and after they leave.

Heroines Petticoats exhibition Dirty Dozen
Installaton by Kelly Sullivan comprising 120 matchboxes filled with astonishing women (Image credit:

Heroines Petticoats exhibition Dirty Dozen
A miniature installation by Tinky captioned, On the surface Stella's injuries seemed cosmetic. But on closer inspection, those fears had no foundation (Image Credit:

The Heroines' Petticoats Exhibition will commence at The Dirty Dozen on 2nd April and will run until 26th April 2019.

Opening night is on Friday 5th April from 7.30 - 9.30pm

The Dirty Dozen is located in Campbell Arcade, entry is via Degraves Street Subway or Flinders Street.

Heroines Petticoats exhibition Dirty Dozen
The Dirty Dozen (Image Credit: Creative Spaces)

The Gallery is open Monday - Friday from 7am - 7pm and on Saturdays from 10am - 5pm.

Sadly this will be one of the final exhibitions showing in this gallery space as The Dirty Dozen is scheduled for closure in July 2019 due to the Metro Tunnel works. The demolition is said to be a significant cultural loss for Melbourne.

This exhibition is sponsored by City Of Melbourne, Creative Spaces & Young Henry's Brewery.
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Why? Head underground to explore fascinating works by female artists
When: Mon - Fri 7am - 7pm, Sat 10am - 5pm
Where: The Dirty Dozen, Campbell Arcade, 248 Flinders St, Melbourne
Cost: Free
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