Curated by Kendrah Morgan, Joy Hester: Remember Me traces the artist’s working methods and creative processes from the very start of her career. Although her work remained largely unrecognised until many years after her death, today Hester is regarded as a key figure in the development of Australian modernism.
Make time to wander the gallery’s stunning grounds, including the beautiful Healing Garden, inspired by Sunday Reed.
The NGV’s Triennial is an absurdly ambitious event, with 86 projects by more than 100 artists from across 30 countries. That breadth means there’s something for everyone, from Julian Opie’s animated birds lighting up LED screens along St Kilda Road and a massive sculpture of Venus by American artist Jeff Koons through to a giant octopus by South African Porky Hefer.
A series of 15 bark paintings and nine poles in a stunning blue by Yolngu artist Dhambit Mununggurr are not to be missed, remarkably created using her less preferred hand after she injured her right hand.
Keep an eye out for stunning photography by Ethiopian Aïda Muluneh. For the kids, Japanese artist Misaki Kawai has created a space inspired by dog parks complete with colourful, furry dog sculptures and a puppet studio.
Time for refreshments? Englishman Adam Nathaniel Furman and Sibling Architecture have reimagined the NGV’s Gallery Kitchen cafe into a mashup of boudoir, salon and night club. All events are free and are located across all floors of NGV International.
Royal Children’s Hospital Art Trail
It’s the 150th anniversary of Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital this year and to celebrate the occasion the hospital has commissioned an art trail. A pop-up taster will be unveiled in December at various sites across Melbourne, in Bourke Street mall, Melbourne Museum, the St Kilda foreshore, Prahran Square, Moonee Ponds’ Clocktower, and in Geelong. The main event next year will see hundreds of sculptures dotted around the city.
The art trail features a character called the UooUoo (pronounced YouYou), an imaginary Australian animal whose shape is loosely drawn from the wombat and dugong, devised by Alexander Knox, whose sculpture Creature lives at the hospital.
Me and UooUoo: the RCH150 Anniversary Art Trail will feature works by Jane Reiseger, Ghostpatrol (David Booth), Josh Muir, Bonsai (Sai Neoh) and more. Each of the commissioned artists will bring their own take on the mysterious yet apparently gentle and empathetic beast. KO
Not since about 1975 have drive-ins been quite so popular. In this COVID reality, the enforced distancing and preservation of bubbles afforded by cars has come into its own. As well as sites in Coburg and Dandenong (and Dromana further afield), Melburnians can head to the Showgrounds for a fix of their favourite movies.
Skewed towards children, the Disney+ Showgrounds venue will screen offerings from Pixar, Marvel and Twentieth Century Fox, including Star Wars. At Coburg and Dandenong, run by Village and Lunar respectively, the brief is broader, with adult fare such as The Witches and Promising Young Woman opening next month.
Drive-ins may also be the hope of the side for live music: in Sydney recently, Hockey Dad played to car-based audiences in a novel but practical solution to issues presented by coronavirus. KO
Well, this is fitting. The last gig Richmond’s beloved music venue the Corner Hotel held pre-lockdown in March was Melbourne four-piece Kingswood. The first gig the Corner will host post-lockdown is also Kingswood. The circumstances will obviously be different, with a limited capacity of 50, all seated at varying sized tables, for the early and late shows each night. If that sounds like new territory for a rock band whose riffs powered them to a succession of top 10 albums and an opening slot for AC/DC, then be assured they have adapted. During lockdown Kingswood recorded and released Reveries, a stripped-down and roots-tinged version of their previous album, Juveniles. The songs, in this case, do not remain the same. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 27-29 (two shows each night) at Corner Hotel, Richmond. Full details at cornerhotel.com
Mick Thomas’ Roving Commission
The annual December tour from Melbourne singer-songwriter Mick Thomas is traditionally a raucous national affair, but this year the former Weddings, Parties, Anything mainstay will be confined to Victoria. That said, it’s a wide-ranging run of dates that will draw on Thomas’ extensive folk-rock songbook as well as his June lockdown album, the aptly titled See You on the Other Side. If you’ve been waiting for a gig that can lift the spirits and put a feisty full stop on 2020, these COVID-safe shows are a definite candidate.
Show dates: Friday, December 4 (two shows), at Volta, Ballarat; Saturday, December 5 (two shows), at Macedon Railway Hotel, Macedon; Friday, December 11, at Westernport Hotel, San Remo; Saturday, December 12 (two shows), at Bundy Hall, Maffra; Sunday, December 13, at Pitch Invasion, Devon North Recreation Reserve; Friday, December 18 (two shows), at Memo Music Hall, St Kilda; Saturday, December 19 (two shows), and Sunday, December 20 (matinee), at Corner Hotel, Richmond. Full details at mickthomas.com
Few groups are better suited to transcending the necessary restrictions of socially distanced gigs than Black Cab. Since their 2004 debut album Altamont Diary, the cult Melbourne group’s core of vocalist Andrew Coates and multi-instrumentalist James Lee have proven to be conceptual shapeshifters, moving from psychedelic excess to Stasi-soaked post-punk and then throbbing krautrock grooves, complete with suitable visual accompaniment live. As will be the case with numerous Melbourne acts, Black Cab have a remotely recorded lockdown album ready for release in 2021, with the glinting new single Hanna just issued, while drummer Wes Holland has returned to the fold. Cabaret seating, 21st century sounds. Saturday, December 5 (two shows), at Corner Hotel, Richmond. Full details at cornerhotel.com. CM
While we’re making like tourists in our home town, investigate the lesser known museums on offer. As well as Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum and Scienceworks, the city is home to gems such as the Hellenic Museum in the former Royal Mint building in William Street and the Chinese-Australian Museum, which will open on weekends during December.
For a deep dive into all things Indigenous, check out Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum, including the beautiful Milarri Garden.
For Australia’s biggest collection of sporting memorabilia, visit the Sports Museum at that hallowed ground that is the MCG. For history buffs, the Old Melbourne Gaol has night tours, including one with a hangman. Once housing Ned Kelly and Squizzy Taylor, the landmark bluestone building was the scene of 133 hangings until its closure in 1929.
There’s also Parkville’s (Percy) Grainger Museum, celebrating the Australian composer ironically most well-known for English Country Garden; it’s the only site dedicated to an individual in the country. KO
Fancy learning to dance to African beats? Or busting some Bollywood moves? Perhaps talking tramstops or Hong Kong protests or First Nations-led architecture is more your thing? A quirky array of events courtesy of MPavilion runs throughout December, with COVID-19 meaning Naomi Milgrom Foundation’s design initiative looks very different this year.
Rather than commissioning a new structure, MPavilions from years past will be utilised at the Docklands, the zoo and Monash University. Exploring questions of identity, social spaces, private versus public and online connections, this year’s program includes performances, workshops, discussions and kid-specific events. On Fridays throughout December, Hope St Radio will broadcast live from the Melbourne Zoo, so check out the animals while you tune in. KO
Kerrie is a senior culture writer at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald
Craig Mathieson is a TV, film and music writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.