You probably don't remember me but you took me on one of the fascinating art walks some months back I posted the story on my website here because the newspaper here seemed to be delaying publication but this past weekend it was the cover story to the "herald on sunday" travel section (great readership at this time of year as you can imagine) it is here
"It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find these places on your own – which is why it is best to sally forth with knowledgeable curator Jane O’Neill on one of her Art Aficionado Tours"
It’s the best way to see some of the city’s best-kept art secrets, with the help of the experts at Art Aficionado. Run by the in-house curator of the Art Series Hotels, Jane O’Neill, Art Aficionado tours include hidey-hole commercial galleries, artist-run initiatives and public art collections. Tours run from the CBD, Prahran and, later this year, Brunswick.
I’m on O’Neill’s Art Aficionado tour and, just as I get my balance out the front of our meeting place, Pellegrini’s, we’re off and (almost) running. First stop is nearby gallery Neon Parc, and I’m delighted because, straight off, we’re climbing a narrow staircase to a gallery I wouldn’t have found myself to see pop art by an American nun. Cool.
A walking tour through Melbourne’s laneways provides a tantalising glimpse into the city’s vibrant art scene. Hip galleries and artist-run-spaces are concealed in the most surprising spaces such as a former underground car park or the foyer of an old building where minute works of art are displayed in glass-fronted mailboxes.
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find these places on your own – which is why it is best to sally forth with knowledgeable curator Jane O’Neill on one of her Art Aficionado Tours.
The itinerary covers hole-in-the-wall operations such as Gallery Funaki, where Dutch artist Nel Linssen’s sculptural paper jewellery is a highlight, and the sleek Murray White Room ❯ tucked inside an old car park. However, it also makes a pit stop at the Reserve Bank of Australia building to admire Sidney Nolan’s specially commissioned, 20m-long copper mural, Eureka Stockade. Other ports of call might include the blue-ribbon Anna Schwartz Gallery and artist-run spaces such as Neon Parc and Blindside in the Nicholas Building, one of the city’s last remaining artist enclaves. O’Neill, a freelance curator since1995, offers a mix of history, interpretation and artist introductions.
Starting from the iconic Pellegrini's - whose coffee might also be reckoned a work of art - O'Neill leads small groups to the more interesting of the city's downtown galleries."It's about the promotion of contemporary art to a broader audience, that's my key motivation," O'Neill says. "The geographical layout of Melbourne is very exciting for a tour, as it means exploring lots of laneways and unusual places."
The Art Series’ curator, Jane O’Neill, also runs brilliant tours of Melbourne’s very excellent art scene through her company, Art Aficionado Tours...On a walk through Melbourne’s Laneways recently, we found small dealer galleries tucked away on side streets, headed down lanes that looked like loading bays to find slick contemporary exhibitions and checked out one-room galleries, high up in 1950’s office buildings.
We dropped in on an artist friend’s studio and checked out artist-run collectives. O’Neill’s enthusiasm and knowledge of the Melbourne art scene is infectious, but never pretentious.