‘People gravitate towards the soulful’: Melbourne Art Fair returns

Kerrie O'Brien, Sydney Morning Herald, February 19, 2022



The fair brings together 63 galleries and 130 artists, from the firmly established to the emerging. With names such as Mirka Mora and Brett Whiteley, contemporaries such as Sally Smart, Christopher Langton, Thea Perkins and Vincent Namatjira, it’s a rich and diverse offering. Just hours into the unofficial launch, a swag of red dots appeared beside a number of artworks. Gallerists and artists were clearly keen to be back IRL, but so were buyers.


This year the event is being held in the cavernous Denton Corker Marshall-designed Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, a stark contrast to its decades-long 19th century home at Carlton’s Royal Exhibition Building. The acclaimed architects also designed the layout of the fair, their space allowing generous areas for the galleries at the event.



Six large-scale installations in sculpture, video, fabric, river reed and dance, by Matt Arbuckle, Maree Clarke, Sean Meilak, Nabilah Nordin, Caroline Rothwell and Sally Smart, were commissioned for the Beyond program. It’s a new element this year and curated by Emily Cormack, who says the commissions were inspired by COVID-19: seeing our world without people, which made her think hard about place and what it meant.


“Each of the works question what this place is when we are without each other,” she says. “In different ways, the works draw us to one another – inviting physical proximity, wrapping us, inviting us to dance, sit or digitally interact, enveloping us and affecting us.”


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