Australia’s largest outdoor gallery pops-up in Bourke Street Melbourne

Pelligrinis-Kenny-PittockThe top end of Bourke Street has been transformed into one of Australia’s largest outdoor art galleries, UPTOWN, featuring 26 contemporary Melbourne artists including Bill Henson, Destiny Deacon and Polly Borland.

Delivered by the City of Melbourne and Creative Directors Robert Buckingham and Fiona Scanlan, the free exhibition will become a major drawcard over summer to help encourage people back into the city to support shops, restaurants and cafes.

“UPTOWN was inspired by Sally Capp’s vision to make art and artists part of Melbourne’s future,” said Uptown Co-curators Fiona Scanlan and Robert Buckingham. “We want to see artists and galleries return to the city and preserve the magic of the local village atmosphere at the top of Bourke Street.”

UPTOWN is a spontaneous expression of goodwill from Melbourne’s artistic community, transforming empty shops, businesses, windows, building exteriors and laneways to celebrate the city’s creativity, and was devised as a response to the effects of COVID-19 on Victoria, encouraging visitors to take time to pause and reflect on the city we have created, and the city we want to inhabit.

The Artworks will reflect on Bourke Street’s architecture, streetscape and history and will be located between Spring Street and Exhibition Street and will adorn prominent venues including The Windsor Hotel, Pelligrini’s, Grossi Florentino, Ombra, and Becco along with Job Warehouse, Meyers Place, and the former Metro nightclub.

“We’ve collaborated with property owners, business owners and artists to create Australia’s largest outdoor art gallery,” said the Lord Mayor. “This project is about encouraging people back into the city to support our economic recovery.”

“More people in the city means more coffees being sold in local cafes, more meals being purchased every lunchtime and more potential customers for our local retailers.”

“Our creative sector is a crucial part of what makes Melbourne great and it will play a key role in revitalising our city and kickstarting our economy,” said the Lord Mayor.

Fiona Scanlan and Robert Buckingham have been friends for four decades. They met at the beginning of their careers when they both rented studios in Little Collins Street in the early 1980s. It was a time when Melbourne was experiencing a severe economic downturn, rents were cheap, and a generation of artists and designers were drawn to the city for inspiration, mutual support, and the dream of creating their future.

Fiona’s first design studio was the launching pad for a stellar career in fashion. She established and built the iconic Scanlan & Theodore fashion label. From that early city studio, she went on to have a distinguished career as one of Australia’s leading fashion designers, retailers, and taste-makers. Recently she retrained as a ceramist and has begun a new exhibiting career.

Robert is a serial cultural entrepreneur and curator. In the 80’s he co-founded and was director of the influential Fashion Design Council (FDC); in the 90s, he assisted in the opening of the Johnston Collection, relaunched Craft Victoria, and was the inaugural creative director of the Melbourne Fashion Festival.

Later he set up the Australian office of international trend forecasters, The Future Laboratory, and was the inaugural director of MPavilion and CEO of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.

Together, Fiona and Robert have contributed to the cultural, social, and economic life of Melbourne. They joined forces to curate UPTOWN out of a deep commitment to the city they love.

The 26 Artists featured in UPTOWN include: Peter Atkins, Damiano Bertoli, Polly Borland, Danica Chappel, Su san Cohn, Destiny Deacon, Yanni Florence, John Gollings, Louise Hearman, Bill Henson, Janina Green, Lou Hubbard, Eugenia Lim, James Lynch, Alasdair McLuckie, Viv Miller, Kent Morris, Elizabeth Newman, Louise Paramor, Kenny Pittock, Kerrie Poliness, Steven Rhall, Elle Shimada, The Huxleys, Lisa Young and Constanze Zikos.

UPTOWN continues to Sunday 28 February 2021. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Kenny Pittock’s fun word-play drawings at Pelligrini’s – photo by John Betts