Melbourne Now: History making exhibition returns in 2023 with 200+ Victorian-based Artists

NGV-MELBOURNE-NOW-photo-by-KIM-LANDYThe second edition of the ground-breaking exhibition Melbourne Now will be presented at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia from March 2023.

Bold in scope and scale, the exhibition highlights the extraordinary work of more than 200 Victorian-based artists, designers, studios and firms whose practices are shaping the cultural landscape of Melbourne and Victoria.

With more than 200 ambitious and thought-provoking projects on display, including more than 60 world-premiere works commissioned especially by the NGV for this major presentation, the exhibition highlights the vibrant creativity of local emerging, mid-career and senior practitioners and collectives – including many who are presenting at the NGV for the very first time.

The large-scale exhibition traverses all levels of The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, including contemporary interventions across the Australian Art and First Nations permanent collection displays, and highlights a diverse range of contemporary disciplines across fashion, jewellery, painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, video, virtual reality, performance, photography, printmaking, product design and publishing.

Exhibiting artists including Christian Thompson, Esther Stewart, Atong Atem, Mia Boe, Kait James, Pitcha Makin Fellas, Layla Vardo, Nicholas Mangan, Fiona Abicare, Meagan Streader, Sean Hogan, Amos Gebhardt, and Lisa Reid.

Never-before-seen commissions include a room-sized ‘temple’ constructed from thousands of computer fans by emerging artist Rel Pham, which draws on the artist’s Vietnamese heritage and interest in gaming culture. Blurring the boundaries between the digital and physical realms, this neon-lit installation combines the visual language of technology, classical Asian architecture and religious iconography.

Lou Hubbard’s Walkers with Dinosaurs, 2021–23, sees a mass of inflatable walking frames tumbling out into the foyer of the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia’s third floor. Presented alongside two stacks of colourful, dinosaur-shaped children’s chairs, with humour, the sculptural installation poignantly evokes the inevitabilities of our shared mortality.

Made in collaboration with Kyoto-based lantern studio Kojima Shoten, Larrakia/Wardaman/Karajarri artist Jenna Lee will illuminate the gallery with a series of hand-painted paper lanterns in the shape of Gulumerridjin dilly bags, a traditional woven bag designed and used by First Nations women. Balarr (To Become Light) explores the relationship between light and dark and draws on the artist’s research into ancestral objects including the similarities between her own paper craft practice and the Kyoto style paper lanterns.

Welcoming visitors to NGV Australia, Lee Darroch’s 10-metre-long installation Duta Ganha Woka (Save Mother Earth) comprises driftwood collected on Country. Representing men and women from the 38 Indigenous language groups of Victoria, the driftwood pieces are connected by jute string which illustrates the deep connection between First Nations peoples in this region.

Also on display is Troy Emery’s largest sculptural and most ambitious work to date, standing over three metres high. In the artist’s signature soft sculptural style, the exuberant textile depicts a feline-like animal. The exhibition also includes focused displays that offer an in-depth exploration of particular themes, media and technical innovations.

The hugely popular Design Wall returns with a large-scale installation celebrating consumer products designed in Melbourne over the past decade, including guitars, ladders, pillows, luggage, motorbikes and more.

Representing 23 Melbourne design studios, the Design Wall brings together designers, companies and brands who are shaping the way we live, work and play, including skate wear brand Globe International, Robert Gordon Pottery and pillow manufacturer Tontine.

Ranging from couture to streetwear, Fashion Now highlights the work of 18 local designers with more than 30 recent acquisitions and loans, including Ngali, Chris Ran Lin, Arnsdorf, Blair Archibald, Nixi Killick, Erik Yvon, Strateas Carlucci and Verner. On display will be a glamorous gown by J’Aton Couture, commissioned by the NGV for this presentation. The selected works highlight how fashion is embedded in, and reflects, a city’s identity.

Slippery Images challenges the representational use of photography through the work of 12 artists whose exciting images reveal the loose, fluid and slippery aspects of the photographic medium.

Slippery Images features a surprising array of photographic works that are cut, collaged, painted and pierced, as well as those displayed in unconventional ways, including images that are suspended, three dimensional and even wearable. The artists on display continue a long-held enquiry into photography, presenting works that record the ‘real world’ while simultaneously abstracting reality.

“Art starts with the artist, and with the help of sustained government investment, Victoria is home to some of the world’s best,” said Steve Dimopoulos MP, Minister for Creative Industries. “Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia and this exhibition is an awe-inspiring celebration of our State’s creative industries.”

Further highlight commissions and displays include:

  • Melbourne Now Print Portfolio brings together twelve new prints commissioned especially for the exhibition by established and emerging artists, including Stefan Wirihana Mau and Deanna Hitti. Many of the prints in the portfolio were produced solely by the artist, while others highlight the collaborative efforts between an artist and specialist printer. The diversity of the works reflects Melbourne’s dynamic and flourishing print community and will be available to purchase at the NGV design store.
  • Georgia Banks has created Gee – an AI chatbot developed using data from the questionnaires Banks completed during the process of applying for several popular Australian reality TV dating shows. Over a six-month period, Banks spoke to Gee every day, to see if they could fall in love with each other. During the exhibition, visitors are invited to see if they too can fall in love with Gee.
  • Inspired by the rich history of Australian community halls, a longstanding and ubiquitous presence in many metropolitan and regional communities that function as important and much-loved gathering spaces, Melbourne Now’s own Community Hall will bring people together through a daily rotation of both interactive and contemplative moments, from performance, talks, community events and workshops, to film, sound and opportunities for quiet reflection.
  • A collaboration between NGV and Craft Victoria, Vessels will showcase the work of 15 artists, craft and design practitioners whose creative practices explore the vessel, including Vipoo Srivilasa, Zhu Ohmu, Kate Jones, Yoko Ozawa and Claire Bridge. The vessel is an enduring cultural and social object that merges utility with form, the display features objects created using innovative and diverse materials – from ceramics and fibre to mixed media and experimental biomaterials.
  • Civic Architecture surveys five award-winning civic projects by Melbourne architects that have been catalysts for transformation in different neighbourhoods, including in Dandenong, Broadmeadows and Geelong. The survey is accompanied by a series of models by emerging practice Simulaa, which captures the everyday architecture – street furniture, utilities and objects – found in these locations.
  • No House Style assembles leading and emerging Melbourne-based furniture designers and architects whose contrasting styles are emblematic of the city’s creative spirit. Refuting mainstream design trends, these designers and architects are helping to establish a picture of contemporary Melbourne architecture and design that is independent, original, plural and expressive of contemporary issues and values.
  • A collaboration between Senior Boonwurrung Elder N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM and Palawa built environment practitioner Sarah Lynn Rees, Gathering Space: Ngargee Djeembana brings together First Nations philosophical knowledge, design thinking and the built environment. Comprising more than 55 materials, from timber, stone and minerals to sand, water and glass, Gathering Space is an intentionally tactile installation and visitors are encouraged to touch, smell and feel the materials on display, subverting expectations of contemporary Western gallery spaces. The work will also be a site for talks, discussions and performances.
  • Shaun Gladwell’s Passing Electrical Storms is a participatory extended reality (XR) experience that invites contemplation of the universes both within and beyond the body. Informed by the vast scale of Charles and Ray Eames’s seminal documentary short, Powers of Ten (1977), which explores the universe from a macro perspective right down to a single atom, the work invites participants to lay on the floor and experience the original 1977 film with additional, XR visual layers viewed through a head-mounted device. Supported by Major Partner Deakin University.
  • Mia Salsjö has developed A score for Federation Square – a new composition, especially for Federation Square’s architecture. Responding to the detailed architectural drawings, architects’ annotations and build material selections, Salsjö has translated and interpreted these hand-drawn and machine-made lines, transforming them into a code. The work is supported by Federation Square.
  • Settlement and the gatekeepers by Elvis Richardson comprises a series of powder pink gates wrought with the most commonly used synonyms of the word ‘settlement’. As visitors interact with the functional gates in the gallery space, they are prompted to reflect on the question: who are the gatekeepers?
  • Part playground and part photobooth, James Lemon’s participatory work, Swarming invites audiences of all ages to learn through play about the importance and fragility of bee life in our ecosystems – and to human survival. Combining ceramics, painting, textiles and digital media, Swarming is an ultraviolet hive of activity and features interactive soft pupae forms.
  • Babel Bookcase, curated by Brad Haylock, gathers a selection of Melbourne’s best graphic design and communication design of the past decade, from posters, books, typefaces, websites, and apps, to branding, placemaking, and experimental practices. The display is inspired by the Tower of Babel – a mythical structure from which all the languages of the world emanate.
  • Situated within the Impressionism galleries will be an immersive installation of Julia Ciccarone’s meticulously detailed paintings. Ciccarone’s metaphorical imagery suggests that nature contains the transcendent and mystical truths of human connectedness and renewal. The viewer will be invited to sit within, and become part of, the artist’s panorama.

Melbourne Now is a showstopping and dynamic survey of work by more than 200 leading Victorian-based practitioners, offering an exciting and thought-provoking snapshot of the limitless creativity empowering this city and its surrounds,” said Tony Ellwood AM, Director NGV.

“Ranging from large-scale, never-before-seen commissions through to moments of quiet reflection and contemplation, this exhibition highlights the diverse talents of Victorian artists and designers who are at the forefront of contemporary practice world-wide.”

The 2023 exhibition marks the ten-year anniversary of the inaugural presentation and offers an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on how Melbourne and Victoria have transformed, changed and grown over the past decade.”

“No other exhibition series reflects Victorian life and culture with such depth, nuance and breadth. We are excited to build upon this incredible legacy with this new, blockbuster presentation of Victorian creativity in 2023,” said Mr Ellwood.

Melbourne Now
The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Fed Square, Melbourne
Exhibition: 24 March – 20 August 2023
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Melbourne Now 2023 artist and designer announcement event on 18 October at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia – photo by Kim Landy