Thursday, October 31, 2013

Meet the Town Hall Gallery Team: Mardi Nowak


Senior Curator Mardi Nowak with an installation at Art Basel Hong Kong

Hello THGers! I'm Marion, your trusty gallery and curatorial support officer at Town Hall Gallery, nice to meet you.

In the lead up to our November 22 launch we thought you might like to meet your THG curatorial team. We are so excited to be back and ready to introduce you to our new spaces, retail store, Community Project Wall and all of the fantastic artists in our 2014 exhibition program.

We all asked one another a set of 5 questions designed to act as a bit of an ice-breaker. So pull up a chair, grab a coffee, and let's get to know each other a little better!

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Mardi Nowak - Senior Curator

As the captain of the ship at Town Hall Gallery since 2004, Mardi is the wise and triumphant leader responsible for keeping Kent and Marion in line. Head to toe in Marimekko, Mardi has programmed an amazing exhibition calendar for the first half of 2014.

Trained in tapestry and textiles with an MA in Fine Arts from Monash University, Mardi is a strong believer in 'art for everyone'. The vision and experience that Mardi brings to THG can be found in everything we do, from the innovative exhibitions to the beautiful products in our new retail store, The Emporium @ THG.

As an exhibiting artist, Mardi has shown her work around Melbourne and most recently in the 8th International Biennial of Textile Miniatures in Lithuania. Her work has featured in a number of prominent group exhibitions, such as the Kate Derum Small Tapestry Award and the touring exhibition  About Time:  Australian Studio Tapestry 1974-2005.

Mardi has held positions in local government public galleries, including Kingston Art Centre, and she has also lectured in Tapestry at Monash University. Needless to say, Mardi maintains an active artistic practice alongside her curatorial projects and is instrumental in artworks acquired for the Town Hall Gallery Collection.

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When you're not at the gallery, how do you spend your free time?
I fill up my spare time (or what is left of it!) either in my studio weaving, catching up on some art books or watching arts documentaries.  There is the mantra that we eat, breathe, sleep art and that is very true but I love taking time out on the weekend to bake bread, make something yummy and enjoy time with friends, family and my cat Miss Nina.

If you could have dinner with any artist, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
This is such a hard question!  Maybe Jeff Koons as I think he would be quite entertaining to have dinner with and would keep the conversation flowing.  I adore the work of Karen Kilimnik and Elizabeth Peyton but sometimes you don't want to meet your heroes because they may not meet your expectations!

In my position I do get to have dinner with lots of fascinating artists who always bring fascinating ideas and conversation to the dinner table, it's one of the best parts of the job!

What superpower would you have and why?
Hmmm... I think the ability to heal things.  I'm quite accident prone and often bumping into things so being able to heal myself and others would be pretty amazing.

What three words would you use to describe the new Town Hall Gallery?
Inspiring, chameleon-like and inviting.

What are you looking forward to the most in 2014 at Town Hall Gallery?
We have so many fantastic exhibitions coming up that I am looking forward to sharing with our visitors.  I can't wait to see people's responses to the new space and the curatorial program that we are showing, I'm sure they will find it inspiring and thought-provoking.  We are also working with a wonderful group of artists from both Australia and overseas and I can't wait to see how they respond to the new gallery space.

The most exciting part is taking Town Hall Gallery to a new level within the visual arts sector.  We had worked incredibly hard previously on creating exciting and fun exhibitions and now we are growing into some new, while keeping all the good parts!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Joan Returns

Our beloved Jeanne d'Arc marble statue, known to locals as Joan, has returned from her holiday in storage and taken up pride of place in the gallery foyer.



She arrived in a crate, trolley-jacked into the gallery with the sort of delicate care you would afford any 100 year-old lady coming back from an extended holiday.


On hand were the remarkable TED Fine Art Handling Services, led by Ben, who could not have been more careful, calm and considered with their treatment of Joan. Measuring everything twice, discussing each move prior to making it, and quietly going about their work with choreographed finesse.


Produced by Raffaello Romanelli in the latter part of his career, this figurative work is an exquisite piece of sculpture made from the finest Carrara marble. Romanelli was an Italian sculptor from Florence, whose works are distributed around the world, including Rome, Florence, Siena, Romania, Detroit, Philadelphia and Cape Town.


Joan has taken up her new position in the gallery foyer area, watching over the visitors and casting her gaze out of the eastern windows to watch the daily sunrise. The history of Jeanne d'Arc is a fascinating one, not least for her efforts at leading an army as a teenager, her untimely and gruesome death, and for her elevation to Sainthood. As a work of art Joan attracts a great deal of attention and is fondly looked upon by the community. The detailing in her clothing, from the chain-mail of her skirt to the patterning on her cloak, is especially mesmerising. Her confident stance and focused gaze make her all the more spectacular.

You can watch the arrival of Joan in this video documentary filmed at the Town Hall Gallery:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Meet the Town Hall Gallery Team: Kent Wilson

Art Admiral - Kent Wilson



Hello THGers! I'm Marion, your trusty gallery and curatorial support officer at Town Hall Gallery, nice to meet you.

In the lead up to our November 22 launch we thought you might like to meet your THG curatorial team. We are so excited to be back and ready to introduce you to our new spaces, retail store, Community Project Wall and all of the fantastic artists in our 2014 exhibition program.

We all asked one another a set of 5 questions designed to act as a bit of an ice-breaker. So pull up a chair, grab a coffee, and let's get to know each other a little better!






Kent Wilson - Assistant Curator

Kent joined the team at THG but a few weeks ago, bringing with him a wealth of experience as a curator, academic and an all-round nice guy. Kent holds a PhD in Fine Arts from Monash University and is a practicing artist: his installation and sculptural works explore our human relationship with nature.

At THG, Kent will be curating a major exhibition in the second half of 2014 and assisting Mardi with various curatorial projects and educational programming. Our social media platforms will be monitored by Kent (with posts by Mardi and Marion) so keep an eye out as you might pick up a few new tips and tricks!

Kent has curated numerous shows across private, public and artist-run spaces, including a satellite event for Craft Victoria's 'Craft Cubed' festival and the Macedon Ranges Projection inaugural projection prize in 2013. He was the Gallery Director at Stockroom in Kyneton in 2012 and has held positions at C3 Contemporary Art Spaces and the Convent gallery in Daylesford.

The Sub-Machine, Kent's arts website, contains reviews and critical writings about art in and around Melbourne. He chooses to call the lovely town of Kyneton in regional Victoria 'home' with his wife, artist Lucy James, and their cat, Marcel.

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When you're not at the gallery, how do you spend your free time?
I am a certifiable art-nerd, so when I'm not at the gallery here I'm usually writing about art, visiting other galleries or making my own art. At the moment I'm actually working with my wife, Lucy James (who grew up in Kew and is an alumni of MLC, just up the road) on a collaborative art project, which will be exhibiting in Melbourne early next year.

If you could have dinner with any artist, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
I would love to have a meal with the Australian artist who made the world's oldest known representation of the human face. Up in the Burrup Peninsula of Western Australia we have some of the most amazing and important engravings, carved into the surface of rocks tens of thousands of years ago. At some point in history, one particular person decided to scratch a shape into the ground or sand, or in this case a rock, that looked like something else. That impulse was an evolutionary advance of monumental impact. Imagine chatting to that person over crumbed barramundi fillets, served on a bed of wild rice and washed down with a nice chilled bottle of your favourite wine.

What superpower would you have and why?
Time travel. Imagine the things you could go back and look at! Or, you know, fix up. That time I tripped over in front of the whole class on my first day at a new school, trying to demonstrate the triple-jump? Eradicated from history.

What three words would you use to describe the new Town Hall Gallery?
Spacious, alive, comforting.

What are you looking forward to the most in 2014 at Town Hall Gallery?
There's quite a lot of things going on that it's hard to pin down just one. The public programming is going to be great, allowing for an interaction with the community, providing insights into artists' ideas and working methods, and sharing skills and knowledge. 

The Community Project Wall is also going to be exciting, allowing artists from Boroondara to show their work alongside international artists, rising art stars and icons of Australian art. We've got some big names in the regular programming, some great partnerships teed up with talented people and we'll be pushing some new boundaries in the way we show work and communicate it. There's nothing I'm NOT looking forward to!

Stay tuned for another 'Meet the Town Hall Gallery team' installment featuring our Senior Curator soon!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Meet the Town Hall Gallery Team: Marion Piper



Say hello to Marion, Gallery and Curatorial Support Officer at Town Hall Gallery.

Hello THGers! I'm Marion, your trusty Gallery and Curatorial Support Officer at Town Hall Gallery, nice to meet you!

In the lead up to our November 22 launch we thought you might like to meet your THG curatorial team. We are so excited to be back and ready to introduce you to our new spaces, retail store, Community Project Wall and all of the fantastic artists in our 2014 exhibition program.

We all asked one another a set of five questions designed to act as a bit of an ice-breaker. So pull up a chair, grab a coffee, and let's get to know each other a little better!


Marion Piper - Gallery & Curatorial Support

Marion began her THG journey back in 2007 as an exhibiting artist in an Art Nerds curated show titled With Music in Mind. She joined the team in January 2013 primarily to work on the publication for Marker: 10 Years of the Town Hall Gallery Collection. Mardi just couldn't get rid of her and she started as gallery & curatorial support in mid-2013.

Marion is 'Girl Friday' for THG, lending a helping hand where she can and penning editorial work for various publications across Melbourne. Holding an MA in Writing from Swinburne University, she is currently a PhD candidate with Southern Cross University, so you'll only see her three days a week for now.

Prior to Town Hall Gallery, Marion was on the committee for Blindside Gallery in the Melbourne CBD and has exhibited in numerous artist-run spaces nationally. For the past four years, she has worked at Buck's Rock Performing & Creative Arts Summer Camp in New Milford, Connecticut, USA, teaching digital video and administration. Her writing has appeared in Unmagazine (AU), Digital Americana (USA), VN FOLD (Argentina) and blogs both here and internationally. Needless to say, she likes to keep busy!

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When you're not at the gallery, how do you spend your free time?
I've just started my PhD in arts education, so I'm spending most of my time reading! Otherwise, you can find me bending and stretching myself like a pretzel at Bikram yoga. It's important to exercise the brain as well as the body.

If you could have dinner with any artist, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Frida Khalo. Her life story is incredible and her artworks are truly unique, so I would love to share some Mexican food with her and talk about what it was like living in such uncertain times. Bed-bound for most of her adolescence, Frida used a mirror mounted to the ceiling of her wooden bed frame to paint self-portraits. She would then imagine-in the backgrounds. I visited her home, Casa de Azul, in Mexico City in 2009 and I'll never forget how it made me feel to see her paint tubes, clothing and books.

What superpower would you have and why?
I would love to have telekinesis, which is the power to alter or move objects with your mind. Just think of the creative capabilities! I could be painting or drawing without using my hands. There's something really poetic (and creepy) about objects that look like their moving on their own.

What three words would you use to describe the new Town Hall Gallery?
Alluring. Innovative. Inspiring!

What are you looking forward to the most in 2014 at Town Hall Gallery?
Aside from the fantastic exhibition program, I'm definitely looking forward to meeting you all when you come to see the gallery! I'm fascinated by how people view and perceive the meaning in art and how responses change from person to person. I'm also looking forward to the launch of our retail store, The Emporium at Town Hall Gallery. We've already sourced some beautifully crafted products and we can't wait to share them with you!

With the expanded exhibition spaces and a number of amazing public programs, there definitely will be something for everyone at THG. I encourage you all to come and see our first exhibition too, Marker: 10 Years of the Town Hall Gallery Collection as it will have a number of new acquisitions that we have never shown before. Exciting times ahead!


Stay tuned for another 'Meet the Town Hall Gallery Team' installment soon!