Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Melbourne’

The Wondrous World of Stephen Ives

Visiting the Melbourne studio of artist Stephen Ives is like entering another world. Part Wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities) and part Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory it overflows with action men, dolls, modelling kits, pliers, glue, modelling clays, as well as photographs, drawings and quotes all amongst the standard paints, pencils and brushes you’d expect to find in an artist’s studio. Everything in the studio provides inspiration and you get the impression that nothing is spared from being dismantled and reconfigured. There is so much of interest that you simply cannot take it all in or make sense of it in one glance; yet these seemingly separate parts somehow magically relate and respond to each other.

The most captivating of Ives’s work are his 3D pieces. These are made in the tradition of bricolage, an art form which emerged in the late 20th century where Ives creatively uses whatever materials are at hand regardless of their original purpose. The results are complex pieces imbued with popular cultural as well as historical references. They’re equal parts whimsical and bleak, filled with sexual charge, playfulness and child-like wonder. Their complexity means that you can come back, again and again, and discover more each time. Just as humans cannot be understood in one meeting neither can a great piece of art. It has an ability to transcend time and change with each encounter: you don’t just look at Ives’ work, you look into it.

Ives believes that all artists, consciously or not, create self-portraits, and this is nowhere better demonstrated than in the intriguing and beautifully crafted are pencil drawings collaged onto large canvases.

It’s been a long time since I have been this excited, intrigued and provoked by an artist and their work.

If you’re in Melbourne, go and have a look at Stephen Ives “Jet Babies” at Backwoods Gallery Collingwood between 3-10 August 2012.

A cafe full of personality: The Grub Food Van, Melbourne

Fitzroy used to have a pub on every corner in the 19th century; in the 1980s, these pubs became live music venues; today Fitzroy is probably more famous for its cafe scene. Yet it is a sad fact that many serve dismal coffee and uninspiring food. Not so with the wonderful Grub Food Van which sprung to life earlier this year in the front yard of long-time Fitzroy residents, Tim Mann and Mark Murphy. The van was born out of necessity: finding a way to pay the bills. After they bought a 1965 Airstream on eBay and somehow got it all the way from Iowa to Australia, they turned it into a kitchen, with outdoor seating on an unsealed patch of dirt, albeit covered with rugs and outdoor seating on fine days. On sunny days, the camouflage netting above creates wonderful dappled light. This is design at its best: finding innovative ways to create atmosphere on a tight budget.

They serve simple wholesome food and when I visited in early autumn, on a bright crisp day, I wondered how they’d manage Melbourne’s colder (and rainier) months. Tim told me there’s a green house that’s being fitted out with a small kitchen and a wine bar inside the adjacent disused warehouse. It won’t be streamlined deco-inspired Americana, but like so many Fitzroy icons, it will no doubt be unique and attract a crowd.

Now the weather is cooler the Grub Food Van still is open for business and you can sit outside (as long as it isn’t raining). And for those of us who feel the cold, there are crocheted ‘nanny’ blankets for our knees.

All photos by me (Kate Challis)


Welcome to La Boudoir Dada

“La Boudoir Dada” are the private rooms of the mesmerising Melwitz Folino. Like all interesting people, she cannot be easily categorised: she is an artist, illustrator, teacher and a muse in the truest sense of the word.

Her tiny studio/apartment’s physical location is a leafy part of inner city Melbourne and its temporal one is the beginning of the 21st century, but as soon as you open the door you are transported to another time and place. Each of the rooms of La Boudoir Dada (including the kitchen) is layered with Melwitz’s work: drawings, collage, model dresses, paintings, illustrations, as well as textiles, books and unique pieces of furniture such as the 19th century velvet covered card table originally owned by a brothel where the ladies of the night played cards between clients.

The Boudoir Dada is a feast for the eyes and pays tributes to the times and people who inspire Melwitz. Her own work references fashion designers, artists, writers and muses throughout the ages such as Giovanni Boldini, Kees van Dongen, Countess de Castiglioni, Dora Maar, Yves Saint Laurent, Madame Vionnet, Elsa Schiaparelli, Isabel Toledo, Jean Patou, Frida Kahlo and Anita Ekberg. Mel is the embodiment of what she passionately believes: that fashion is art and should not be relegated to mere function or be seen as frivolous. This is perhaps why she chose to call her apartment La Boudoir Dada, as the Dada movement was against the grand masculine pre-20th century tradition of art and celebrated the ephemera. Melwitz and her boudoir is a celebration of the senses, of beauty, of texture, of history and of ideas.

She is one of the most productive and engaging artists I know and the Boudoir Dada is so rich that I have divided the tour into two stunning posts: one the living/studio and kitchen area and the other the bedroom and bathroom.

So, Meine Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Messieurs, Ladies and Gentlemen! Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome to La Boudoir Dada.

Styling Melwtiz Folino; Photography Kate Challis (me) and Emilie Smith