Lost in a world of illusion

Rhonda Dredge

Visual illusions were waking up the CBD to the possibilities of art as Melbourne Now opened for its first weekend.

How did the artist make a black circle gain red and green ghosts?

The answer is in an 1800s theatrical trick called the Pepper’s ghost effect.

Taree Mackenzie shows how the trick works, using angled side windows to project colours in her installation.

Mackenzie is one of 200 included in this showcase of Victorian artists at the Ian Potter Centre at Fed Square.

Other thought-provoking exhibits include Temple by Rel Pham who has made the internet into a tangible form using fans out of computers.

Pham is one of the last generation to be born into an internet-free world and he has been wondering about the transition ever since.

Some are calling Melbourne Now a blockbuster but compared to the first exhibition 10 years ago it is constrained and stylish.

NGV director Tony Ellwood and the Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos were enjoying the limelight at the media launch.

An over-sized newspaper examines some of the questions a survey show can answer about the development of the city during that period.

According to the official analysis, Indigenous artists are more prominent, as are advances in digital technologies.

The latter were reflected in photography, in particular, with some beautiful still life/montage pictures by Ali McCann, such as the esoteric Narcissus, which depicts a floating form in a ghostly setting.

Architects, this decade, have also come out of their built-form box and demonstrated artistic tendencies with a subtle modernist design by John Wardle Architects woven by the Australian Tapestry Workshop.

Most of the various art forms have been given a chance to show off with the Vessels display including impressive new microbial materials invented by the artist.

Director Tony Ellwood said if people didn’t know where they were because of all the global art they saw, they should visit Melbourne Now.


“You know you’re here in an Australian, Victorian gallery because the creative content is uniquely Victorian,” he said.


The exhibition pays tribute to four local artists who recently died. In Memorium shows the familiar hard-edge abstractions of John Nixon and the floral paintings and texts of Kate Daw.

The exhibition includes 70 stand-alone commission projects but can be viewed in two hours.

Melbourne Now, Ian Potter Centre, until August 20.

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