Nicholas Building Open Studios

I went along to the Nicholas Building Open Studios on the 28 th August 2014. It was a brilliant opportunity to see inside an iconic Melbourne landmark , and watch artists at work .

Nine floors of visual delights were unveiled . The building itself is ever so slightly down at heel, just as you would expect from a work in progress . True to the Art Deco period of architecture and ornamentation , it has glass ceilings , iron framed windows and period ornamentation . The staircase alone is worth a visit, and would be suitable for a horror movie set.


The standout artisans for me were ;

Nicholas Jones , an exemplary artist who creates beautifully constructed and crafted , altered books . Many completed ones were on display , whilst some were a work in progress . Off cuts had been sewn together to create garlands , truly inspiring work .
Another room held textile artists who had magnificent collections of vintage fabrics , marbling kits , large wooden cotton reels and retro sewing accoutrements . Photographers , Printmakers , painters , leather workers , book designers , illustrators and jewellery makers were all on display . A truly incredibly talented group of disparate individuals, all bought together in a mutually inclusive inner urban creative space , it was a joy and privilege to observe them at work .

Indigenous Art

Our group of VU visual arts students  have been covering the subject matter of indigenous art , for Culture and Context .

We have watched an informative 3 part series , made by the ABC , made and presented by Hetti Perkins , entitled  “Art and Soul “.

The aboriginal people are an incredibly talented , naturally intuitive race of mark makers .Their work embraces every aspect of their life and informs and sustains them . They are natural creators at all levels and their work is multi disciplinary .

Some of the work I loved included :

The textile artists , women dying their yarn and fabric with plants and abandoned machinery

The visual artists telling the story of our ” mob “with dot paintings

This work saddened me

The modern day love story of Samsom and Delilah , a film by Warwick Thornton , of challenges facing young indigenous people .

The Cape Baron descendants constructing shell necklaces from black shells . These are Truganini “s tears . Truganini is believed to be the last full blood Tasmanian aboriginal , whose race was subjected to genocide by the white settlers .

Their work is powerful , evocative and deeply moving .

And yes I am descended from the white settlers, who stole their land , forcibly evicted them , and attempted to destroy and desecrate their life , home and culture . Ironic really , as this prejudice , disrespect , starvation and cultural annihilation is exactly what my Irish forbears were fleeing from .

The aboriginal people are a strong , proud , resilient race and their work and life in art is be admired and revered . This was brought home when I attended the Sacred Heart Mission Concert at the Palais in StKilda recently . An aboriginal entertainer , actor , raconteur and musician named Jack Charles ,70 years old , 5 foot tall and a survivor of the stolen generation , took the stage , and held the audience in enraptured silence as he performed . We have much to be grateful for , that they let us share their country , culture , and creative gifts .