Culture, art and history in Melbourne's CBD

A day of masterpieces, very expensive jewellery, some rather unusual "fashion", and a trip down memory lane.

So this month Meagan and I had another jam packed weekend planned - this time in Melbourne's CBD.

First off, we started out with the National Gallery of Victoria to see the new Victor&Rolf: Fashion Artists exhibition. Below is an excerpt from the website of the NGV about the exhibit:

Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists explores Viktor & Rolf’s radical conception of ‘wearable art’. Since forming their creative partnership in 1992, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren have gained critical acclaim for their cerebral and witty approach to couture. The exhibition, which coincides with the luxury fashion label’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 2017, explores the elements that make Viktor & Rolf designs unique in the contemporary fashion world.
In addition to showcasing over 40 signature ensembles from the designers’ haute couture and ready-to-wear collections and early installations, displayed throughout two fashion galleries are 21 exquisite dolls, traditionally handmade by a Belgian doll maker each wearing an intricately crafted miniaturised version of a key collection work. The first dolls were created for The House of Viktor & Rolf and the designers have celebrated each major collection since with a new doll dressed in an emblematic design.

Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists explores Viktor & Rolf’s radical conception of ‘wearable art’. The exhibition explores the elements that make Viktor & Rolf designs unique in the contemporary fashion world. Now we are by no means fashion gurus nor would we claim to have any kind of style sense, so this exhibition was somewhat of an eye opener to us. Needless to say, these fashion pieces were more art than fashion in our book! (Who would honestly wear a dress that looks like it lost a fight with a chainsaw?!)

The exhibition also featured these dolls wearing miniature recreations of some of the most iconic pieces by the designers. The story goes that the designers have one made every time they unveil a new collection, always featuring the most noteworthy piece from the collection. Meagan was a fan of the black evening gown and motorcycle helmet look...

Whilst I favoured the blue jumpsuit that looked something like a cross between a power ranger, an astronaut and a motorbike rider. (Would make a cool Halloween outfit though!)

The NGV has an incredible amount to look at, spanning 3 levels, and so we moved on to the next featured exhibition... Italian Jewels!

Or more specifically, BVLGARI jewellery and boy oh boy was it incredible! There were pieces featured that were worn by Elizabeth Taylor and Sofia Loren, and they were all exquisite. Here's an excerpt from the NGV website about the exhibit:

Showcasing the longstanding relationship between Bulgari, Rome and Hollywood cinema, the exhibition features exquisite jewels from the personal collections of Elizabeth Taylor and Gina Lollobrigida and favoured by prestigious patrons such as Anita Ekberg and Grace Kelly. Spectacular jewels worn on the red carpet by leading Hollywood starlets, such as Kiera Knightley, feature from the Bulgari Heritage Collection.

Next we moved onto the permanent artworks that are on display in the gallery. The NGV is home to an enormous collection of works and covers three entire levels of the gallery. There are departments ranging from Asian art, to contemporary art, to fashion and textiles, to indigenous art and photography. The place is enormous and in order to see everything you'd have to spend hours going through it all. To give you a bit of context, here's an excerpt from their website about the permanent collection:

The NGV Collection contains approximately 75,000 works of art and approximately 90% of its records are available for viewing on our website.

Whilst Meagan had a more appreciative view of the modern works on display, I was of the opinion that a pink spot on a giant white canvas was NOT art. So we agreed to move onto the historical works instead and it was here that we were truly impressed (especially by the sheer size of some of the paintings!).

At 5'1" Meags was dwarfed by this monster painting, whilst at 5'7" I didn't fair much better...

Our final stop at the NGV was to Lee Mingwei's The Moving Garden installation. Taiwanese-American artist Lee Mingwei is internationally recognised as one of the leading creators of art which invites audience participation. The NGV is host to The Moving Garden, an artwork that creates new, unexpected encounters in the city.

Lee says of the work: ‘In this project I present a space with beautiful, fresh flowers. Museum guests are invited to take one of these flowers with them when they leave the museum, if they will agree to do two things: first, to make a detour from their intended route when leaving the museum for their next destination; second, along this detour, to give the flower to a stranger who they feel would benefit from this unexpected act of generosity.’

Meagan and I each took a rose and gave them to two complete strangers that we met in the city. Both people were very touched by the gesture and it certainly made us feel like we had made a small difference to brighten someone's day. In fact just choosing our flowers brought a smile to our faces!

Next it was time for a late lunch. So it was a short walk down onto Southbank to grab some food and find a seat outside in the sunshine.

While we were eating, Meagan became entranced watching a street performer playing with all the children as they went past. "The hot clown" as she dubbed him, was in fact hilarious to watch and Meagan even dropped some money in the collection tin she was so impressed.

Finally, we decided to make a random stop at ACMI (the Australian Centre for Moving Images) at Federation Square on our way back to the car. This turned out to be an awesome idea as we discovered the Australian Mediatheque. This incredible exhibition features a number of comfortable booths set up with touchscreen televisions, headphones and comfy seats to settle back and watch the entire collection of digital media that ACMI and NFSA (Nation Film and Sound Archive) have available.

We spent a good hour and a half watching old movies and news articles about Melbourne and Australia in the "olden days", including this hilarious video about the fashions young women should be wearing in order to catch themselves a husband! Ah the 50s!

Meagan and I had a great time at the Mediatheque and will definitely go back again to check out some of the other stuff they have in the collection. (A few episodes of Round the Twist is at the top of the list!)

It was a very busy day filled with a lot of culture and history and we couldn't have had a better time. If you're in Melbourne, be sure to check out both the NGV and ACMI as they constantly have new exhibitions coming and going.


Until next time,

Nat x