Will Spring go ahead?

By Rhonda Dredge

Galleries are getting ready for Spring 1883, usually a joy-filled, anarchic coming together of Melbourne’s art community at the much-loved Windsor Hotel.

Last year’s event was cancelled in March but Kate Nodrum is confident this one will go ahead.

She’s sorting through paintings at her gallery and imagining them in place in one of the hotel’s sumptuous rooms.

The Gleeson should look good in the bathroom, she said, which is tiled in faux marble, because “it’s over-the-top and will work well”.

Some paintings will be laid on the bed, the Gleeson will be propped on the basin and the Jan Murray will go into a corner where it will have a “bit of a creepy presence”. 

She was pleased to be invited. She loves the venue. “There’s light and fresh air. At an art fair you just get a white box.”

Kate runs Charles Nodrum Gallery with her dad and she’s looking forward, like many, to get out of her suburban neighbourhood and into the centre of town.

Spring 1883 is the seventh art fair to be organised by CBD gallerists Vikki McInnes, Kate Barber and Geoff Newton at the Windsor and it attracts many of the country’s top galleries. 

Thirty galleries have been invited for this year’s event scheduled for August 4 to 7, some from Sydney and New Zealand. 

But Spring, like the rest of the art world, is being forced to adjust to uncertainty. There is currently no bubble between Victoria and New Zealand and even interstate galleries can be given no assurances about possible outbreaks here.

Bookings need to be made in advance and some are worried.

CBD galleries have got more used to the on-again, off-again manner of restrictions by staging sober meet-the-artist events rather than the traditional convivial openings that we all love. 

Both Sarah Scout Presents and Tolarno Galleries have had Saturday afternoon sessions with bookings required. The focus has been more on the art than the socialising.

Organisers of Spring 1883 could not confirm that this year’s event would go ahead in August, when CBD News spoke to them in June.

They are believed to have had an emergency meeting to consider whether to postpone the fair until late Spring but they did not want to pre-empt a press release.

Large scale events, while a feature of Melbourne’s creative scene, just don’t seem to suit our troubled times, witness the cancellation of the much-vaunted Rising Festival.

A group show of work by 90 different photographers was due to open the day after lockdown was announced. It was staged online instead and “didn’t sell that badly,” according to one commentator.

But a lot of art doesn’t look the same on line, she said. “It doesn’t have that wow factor.” •

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