Brook Andrew, Mikala Dwyer & Justene Williams, Tony Garifalakis, Claire Lambe, Clare Milledge
Curated by Vikki McInnes
Erewhon is the (almost) return of Neverwhere, an exhibition that travelled to Istanbul last year, commissioned by Asialink as part of the 'Australia in Turkey' cultural festival. Neverwhere presented the work of eight contemporary Australian artists to disturb distinctions between our real and imagined selves, and between the authentic and the proposed. Narratives were informed by external – and often mysterious – forces, both seen and unseen; the exhibition shifted registers between sincerity and satire although its propensity was to shadowy psychological turns. And it is farther in this direction – towards the darker, more charged imaginings – that the work in Erewhon leads.
More correctly, of course, Erewhon is the (not quite syntactically correct) return of ‘Nowhere’ and title of a novel by Samuel Butler, first published anonymously in 1872. Erewhon was set in a fictional eponymous country – though one that strongly resembled the south of New Zealand in which Butler lived as a young man. The story provided a satire (and philosophical exploration) of various aspects of Victorian society, most notably crime and punishment, religion and science. For example, according to Erewhonian law, offenders were treated as if they were ill, whereas ill people were looked upon as criminals. Another feature of Erewhon was the absence of machines due to the widely shared belief by the Erewhonians that they were potentially dangerous. These ideas – among others (the effects of colonisation, technological progress, the impossibility of utopias, discipline and punishment) – form both the thesis and the point of departure for the exhibition Erewhon.
Image credit: Tony Garifalakis, Woodland, From the series Hills Have Eyes 2014, Fabric collages, 177 x 112 cm
The Margaret Lawrence Gallery is a contemporary art space located in the heart of Melbourne’s arts precinct. It was established in 2001 to provide crucial links between the VCA School of Art and the University of Melbourne (with its community of academics, artists and students), the wider communities of Victoria and on a national platform.
The gallery performs an integral and generative function within the VCA artistic community and is a showcase for new work, playing an educational role for the Victorian and Australian community.
The gallery offers established practitioners an opportunity to create new work in a supported and critically engaged environment. It also encourages meaningful connections and exchanges between professional artists, academics, students and the wider public.
The program focuses on new work by local, national and international artists. Exhibitions are presented in an environment that fosters critical discussion, as well as an understanding and promotion of visual art and its broader social contexts, with accompanying forums, artist and curator talks, residencies and public lectures. The exhibition program has a strong emphasis on research, developed by directly responding to exhibition proposals, and by inviting artists, curators or groups whose work or research is of particular contemporary relevance to devise a project for the space.
The program is determined 12 to 18 months in advance to allow a reasonable period of exhibition development in discussion with gallery staff. Application proposals may be submitted to the Director at any time.
The gallery is also responsible for the care and management of the VCA Art Collection, which spans the history of the College and its predecessor, the National Gallery School of Art and the Margaret Lawrence Australian Ceramic Collection.
The Margaret Lawrence Gallery is generously supported by the Margaret Lawrence Bequest.
Director: David Sequeira
Gallery Coordinator: Sophie NeateSign up to our newsletter