Freelance writer living in and reviewing Melbourne's West.
Published August 25th 2011
I was in the city earlier this week, walking along Bourke Street towards my bus stop when I came across an open doorway and a little sign saying `Melbourne Fine Art Gallery' come inside.
Looking into the doorway, I could see paintings on a wall alongside a staircase leading to a room upstairs. Timidly I climbed up the stairs. Once upstairs I felt I must immediately turn around and leave.
This did not look like a gallery. Instead, I felt like I had accidentally walked into someone's studio or private space. There were paintings on the wall, placed on the floor, and on tables. In the corner was a man talking on the phone by a desk.
As I turned to go, the man beckoned and I stayed, captivated by the simple beauty of the room built sometime at the turn of the last century.
It had maple coloured floorboards, an intricate and ornate wooden skylight and a sloping ceiling. The golden afternoon sunlight was staining the walls, all of which were adorned with some exquisite paintings, with a strong feminine theme. Intrigued, I waited till he got off the phone.
The man was Jon Dwyer, one of the gallery owners, the other being Bryan Collie. Google later informed me Dwyer comes from a prominent art family with both his father and grandfather being well-known and well regarded in the Australian art scene.
All I knew was that he was a friendly, welcoming and congenial host, showing me around the room and talking to me about the paintings. He explained the style of the gallery is inspired by European galleries, which are designed to look informal, as if one has stepped into an artist's studio.
The gallery exhibits work from a stable crew of artists including Howard Arkley, Sid Cross and Bill Coleman.
Notably, the gallery has a good collection of the exquisite work by Melbourne artist Judy Drew. She creates delightfully feminine, richly colourful, and textured works with pastels.
The gallery is open to anyone but the hours are irregular. It is best to ring first as the owners are often traveling.