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Free art fair at the top end of town
One of Melbourne's grand institutions, The Windsor Hotel, opens its doors biannually to the Spring 1883 art show. It's an opportunity for curators from 24 contemporary art galleries around Melbourne to display their works and encourage people to learn about their collections in a luxurious hotel setting. The Windsor opens 24 of its best rooms to the public.
When we arrive on a Saturday night, there are only 30 minutes left of this exhibition and the grand old hotel is a flurry of purpose-driven arty types flapping in and out of hotel rooms drinking in the art. The exhibiting rooms are spread over four floors and attendees must either climb the red-carpeted stairways or wait their turn for the lift. As we wander the halls, we are delighted to see that the hotel is still fully operational. A room service attendant pushes his rattling, tinkling trolley down one of the long quiet hallways, reminiscent of a horror movie but innocent, of course.
In the first room, we come to we meet Trent Walter, the director of Negative Press. I'm a little nervous, art is not my forte, and I know little about the intricacies of the culture and expectations of the art set. Trent speaks eloquently and generously about the lino cuttings, monotypes and prints on display and kindly donates his map of the exhibition so we can plan our attack.
IN/OUT | Living a beautiful life
We are on a mission to see the Patricia Piccinini installation, In/Out, Living a Beautiful Life, that was recently shown at GOMA in Brisbane. Piccinini designs and creates hyper-real sculptures. We find it in the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery space. The room does not disappoint, and we join the crowd oohing and saying over the depictions of 'Curious Affection' between two beings. Personally, I find the 'realness' of the creatures quite disturbing. They are almost human but porcine as well. The tenderness of their embrace gives that a more human quality and we find ourselves identifying with the love these two have for each other, more than we want to.
Another standout gallery representative on the evening is Elijah Ammato, a volunteer from Sutton Gallery in Fitzroy. Elijah greets us warmly as we enter and offers to answer any questions we have about the gallery or the exhibition as a whole. This is the whole point of an art fair like this, to have fascinating pieces of art on display and make it accessible for the masses.
In the Project Room, we meet Jeremy Eaton and marvel at the floral themed artworks and flower arrangements in the space. In Bloom is an inspiring room and rubbing shoulders with artists and curators in such a small space is a real treat.
Jeremy Eaton - In Bloom
Angela, the fair organiser, believes that 9000 people had passed through the exhibition during the four days it was open, 3000 of them on the final day. It will be two years before this event is held in Melbourne again and possibly at another venue as the Windsor Hotel is due to be renovated soon. Next year's event will be in Sydney. Stay tuned for details. This is one art fair that both the indoctrinated and the merely interested can enjoy.