Tag Archives: Fitzroy Street St Kilda

St Kilda Identities Serge Thomann, Johnny Iodine & Henry Greener image by Kerrie Pacholli © pationpics.com

Creativity, art, power & politics

by Kerrie Pacholli © pationpics.com

St Kilda Identities Serge Thomann, Johnny Iodine & Henry Greener image by Kerrie Pacholli © pationpics.com

St Kilda Identities Serge Thomann, Johnny Iodine & Henry Greener at the Vineyard during the inaugural SKAC launch image by Kerrie Pacholli © pationpics.com

Back in mid August 2017 I joined the ranks of the community minded, consisting mainly of a small group of residents.

Over a number of years these individuals had watched their beloved St Kilda in parts, become a barren wasteland. Business in pockets throughout St Kilda had taken a nose drive. Large numbers of the artistic community that had once elevated St Kilda as the artistic epicenter of Melbourne had fled to Brunswick.

Inspired by the strategies of local businesses in other withering cities around the world this group set about igniting creative spirit into the city they loved. The non-for-profit charity The St Kilda Art Crawl was born.

I came on board quite late in the piece, by invitation from one of the founders; it was about 4 weeks before the date of the September art crawl. My first impression was this creative movement has legs. I noted the commitment of the organizers and decided to jump on board boots and all as a volunteer.

My job was to assist with online publicity. The second thing I noted was that the galleries, local businesses and established artists although expressing interest in this event were dragging their heals to officially commit. The main difference between this St Kilda art event and other cities around the world were individuals who were not local property or business owners were organizing this. The pressure was on.

I was way out of touch with the St Kilda art scene and only knew of a couple of galleries that had decided not to participate at that time.

Local artist Marko Maglaic was among the first to commit his time, talents and name on the dotted line in curating a collective pop up exhibition in Christ Church in Acland Street.

A chance meeting with local artist Salvatori Lolicato at 95 Acland Street Café lead me to produce a filmed and written interview with another Shakespeare Grove Artists Studios artist Adrian Spurr and then I was in the business of publicizing local artists in reference to the September 2017 St Kilda Art Crawl.

Two weeks to the crawl date we met Freddie Warschauer owner of a big chunk of real estate on the sunset side of Fitzroy Street. We asked him about the potential of using his window spaces for art and straight up he was keen as punch to put his time, resources and properties to work for a successful Fitzroy Street art crawl contribution.

Property owners Jenny Li and Rob Semple also decided to contribute and gave us the keys to 33 Fitzroy Street and we proceeded to produce what eventually turned out to be two pop up gallery’s showcasing the works of 18 artists over two crawls.

The St Kilda Live Music and St Kilda Comedy Club became proactive and the Espy opened their doors for the first time in years to support them and the crawl with local council deciding to give some money to make this happen.

The seeds of enthusiasm and positive creativity took flight among the arts community.

May 2018 saw the second St Kilda Art Crawl come to life with over 32 galleries including five pop ups stretching from Fitzroy Street, Barkly Street, St Kilda Road and Carlisle Street. With a 60% increase in community participation the event is considered a success by the organizers.

I asked Serge Thomann Photographer and Deputy Mayor of the CoPP between 2012 – 2016 his perspective about art in St Kilda.

How do you feel power, politics and money can assist the St Kilda Arts Community?

It is not known by many that Local Government is the government body that spend the most money on culture and art, from running libraries (Port Phillip has got 5), providing spaces (Gasworks, Linden, Multicultural Arts Victoria, Save the ABC, Carlisle Streets The Gallery, Shakespeare Grove Artists Studios, etc) to supporting local organisations (Red Stitch, Theatreworks, Rawcus, Phillip Adams Ballet Lab, MAV, Brightspace, The Torch, just to name a few) and individuals through various grants. There are also staff members who help artists and companies and mentor them. Obviously, the funds provided by a Council can make a big difference in the cultural landscape of a city. St Kilda has been an art hub for decades and we need to keep some of the creative juices flowing through our village. I believe artists are much better in running art programs – but they need to be funded, e.g. the importance of a Council. After due diligence, of course.

 How do you feel the St Kilda Arts Community can further give voice and make room for artists, art and creative pursuits?

As St Kilda is getting more gentrified, it is always more difficult for artists to find a voice and a space in our village. Artists have always had to fight for survival. And some artists are good, and some not so good. Or should I say popular or not so popular. St Kilda still has got great artists living here – painters (Peter Booth, Andrew Taylor, Lewis Miller, Ann Middleton, Alan Mittleman, Chris Beaumont, just to name a few), film makers and actors, fashion designers, sculptors, photographers, writers, comedians, etc… but most are a bit older and have been in St Kilda for many years. I agree, probably most of the young and up and coming artists live on the other side of the Yarra. There are several artists studios and spaces, but at the end, people should buy more art so more artists can live from their work. The St Kilda Arts Community does provide exposure for artists, creates a buzz around them. Being an artist can be a lonely world but SKAC brings them together and creates a family. This can only be encouraged. I am right behind it. Money can help, but it is not the only valuable ingredient for growth and prosperity.                                            

 

 

Eco Centre’s Neil Blake OAM, Baykeeper of the Watch

In 1992 Robert Mate Mate, a dear friend and creative collaborator introduced me to Neil Blake as the Penguin Man. At that time Neil devoted a big chunk of energy studying and protecting the Port Phillip Penguins that come to roost every night at the end of St Kilda Pier.

As Robert Mate Mate was an Aboriginal from Woorrabinda I naturally believed that Neil was also Aboriginal because of his exceptionally long white beard.  I was later to learn from Robert, who was a tribal elder, storyteller, anthropologist, historian and all-round magic guy, that the ‘Old People’ believed all people born to this land are indigenous and part of the ‘Old People’s’ ancestry; and that when the first Aborigines saw white people they saw ancestors from another dimension. I still find that a head spinner.

Neil has proven to be one of the most dedicated, inspiring and resilient ecological freedom fighters I have had the privilege to meet.  To this day Neil has his long white beard and is hard at it working the Eco Centre in St Kilda, Werribee Riverkeeper, Melbourne’s Western Waterways and Yarra Riverkeeper to name a few of his many projects and involvements. I asked Neil a few questions.

Why have parts of St Kilda’s business community been withering on the vine?

It’s important to recognise that the withering vines are not just in St Kilda, as many property owners across Melbourne leave their premises empty rather than accepting low rents at the true market value. As this financial conundrum is difficult for everyday people to fathom, there is a tendency to lay blame on more visible factors…. a popular sport across the ages.

J.B  Cooper’s ‘History of St Kilda’ recalls (in the 1880’s) “newspapers urged the police to visit the bay line from the Esplanade to the Red Bluff, where several tents were occupied by an undesirable class. Sly grog selling, it was said, was going on in the tents.  The vicinity of the tents was strewn with broken bottles. These vagabonds along the seashore had changed what was once a beautiful walk into a scene of desolation.”

Tell that to the Yalukut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung who for tens of thousands of years respected and maintained that “beautiful walk”.  They harvested shellfish at Point Ormond, but not in the spawning season, so the next harvest would be a good one. The notion of restricting consumption was a foreign concept to the European colonists who, apart from the undesirable classes, were allowed to exploit the environment wherever and whenever they could.

Speaking of Fitzroy Street, Cooper tells us “….it has a dash of his (Sir Charles Fitzroy’s) pleasure-loving vice regal spirit. Sir Charles was… a gentleman whose hospitality extends over a wide circle of friends… as good a judge of Claret and Burgundy as you’ll find in the Colony.” His spirit seemed to have permeated through to the 1990’s when a St Kilda Mayor remarked at the funeral of a well-known street drunk: “He was noisy and looked scary, but those who got to know him found him quite intelligent but unhinged from his time in Vietnam. You know, if he was in Doncaster instead of St Kilda… he would have been locked up!”

In 1835, the Yalukit Weelam were caught between the reef and a hard place with the arrival of Europeans, their millions of sheep, and their guns. In 1985, the remnants of red sandstone they used to grind seed and stone gradually disappeared from St Kilda south beach by the mechanical beach rakes introduced to solve the daily tide of plastic trash.

Everything in nature must reinvent itself some time… we call it evolution.

How can the local community reinvigorate the rebirth cycle of street life?

In early St Kilda, the land south of Fitzroy Street was known as the ‘wattle paddock’, populated by an open bush of Banksia, Acacia, and Red Gum trees. The elevated land of St Kilda hill and adjacent low lying wetlands (Elwood swamp and Albert Park lagoon) offered a rich landscape to support the diversity of local fauna. They all had a role to play and were at home in that place and happy to stay. But their diversity diminished as swamp was reclaimed; and trees, grasses and wildflower habitats were lost to classy mansions and the stylish new seaside resort of St Kilda. The natural estate became the real estate, which became the unreal estate of today.

By the 1970s, the splendour was in decline with Victorian and Edwardian housing stock in serious need of repair. The upside was that the lower rents attracted a wide range of artists who, in the absence of regular income, managed to thrive on the bohemian atmosphere. The seaside and sunsets across the water grace each day…. and all roads (and public transport) from the northeast and south lead to St Kilda.

Since the industrial revolution, the pace of change continues to escalate due to global population growth, increased consumption and modification of natural resources. For at least the past 50 years climate change (in total contempt of the deniers) has been steadily disrupting and displacing third world populations while ‘first world’ peoples nervously tighten their grip on their comfort zone.

The small fish that come into the Cowderoy Street outfall on the high tide know, that’s when the water’s too deep for the Night Herons to prowl; and they stick together to celebrate another day.

Text & image by Kerrie Pacholli © pationpics.com

GAS (Grid Art Space) presents

Hedron Resurrection by Calthestoner image by Michael Kluge

Hedron Resurrection by Calthestoner image by Michael Kluge

GAS (Grid Art Space) presents the second art exhibition at Punchinello Pop-Up at 33 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda as part of the May 2018 St Kilda Art Crawl.

Contributing artists include Adrian Spurr, Salvatori Lolicato, Geoffrey Hales, Tommy Langra, Calthestoner, Michael Kluge and Marko Maglaic.

 

Geoffrey Hales artist

Geoffrey Hales artist image by Michael Kluge

Unreal Flowers July 2017 by Michael Kluge

Unreal Flowers July 2017 by Michael Kluge

Handsome Man by Adrian Spurr image by Michael Kluge

Handsome Man by Adrian Spurr image by Michael Kluge

Untitled by Marko Maglaic image by Michael Kluge

Untitled by Marko Maglaic image by Michael Kluge

Pop-Up Art Gallery in the middle of Fitzroy Street St Kilda

Known as Punchinello Pop-Up  this extraordinary gallery will remain open till Sunday 3 June from 12 – 7.30pm.

Photographs Michael Kluge, text Kerrie Pacholli

With 23 empty shops along Fitzroy Street St Kilda waiting to be rented, there has been much debate in state and local government, as well as among property developers and on the streets, as to why Fitzroy Street; from Grey Street down to the beach has become a tumble-weed zone.

Mobile artist Tommy Langra working at his draughtsman buggy image © Michael KlugeMobile artist Tommy Langra working at his draughtsman buggy 

Inspired by the May St Kilda Art Crawl and with assistance from owners of 33 Fitzroy Street, Jenny Li and husband Rob Semple, GRID ART SPACE (GAS) organized a group of local artists to join forces.  The result is an outstanding high-end pop-up art gallery in the middle of this neglected zone, to show what can be done with talent and teamwork.

Adrian Spurr. The second manifestation of Zeus, 'The Pariah', Sandstone, Steel table and Chariot wheels, 2018.

Adrian Spurr. The second manifestation of Zeus, ‘The Pariah’, Sandstone, Steel table and Chariot wheels, 2018.

This is the second time GRID ART SPACE in association with St Kilda Art Crawl hosted a pop-up art gallery in that space. GAS is a collaboration between Shakespeare Grove artist Adrian Spurr and producer / publicist Kerrie Pacholli with the aim to fill empty spaces with art and culture to bring about growth.

Hedron Resurrection by Cal the Stoner image © Michael KlugeHedron Resurrection by Cal the Stoner image © Michael Kluge

With encouraging sales on both occasions, the organizers received much praise from delighted visitors with encouragement to keep it open. But this of course can only happen with the community support of both local and state government.

65 Skull Series by Marko Maglaic image © Michael Kluge

65 Skull Series by Marko Maglaic image © Michael Kluge

With the debate still open most would agree that this collaborative artistic and cultural inclusion added much needed prestige to an otherwise depressed local economy.

Ceramics by Salvatori Lolicato image © Michael KlugeCeramics by Salvatori Lolicato image © Michael Kluge

Exhibiting artists include: Master printmaker and sculptor Adrian Spurr, ceramicist Salvatori Lolicato, photographer Michael Kluge, painters’ Tommy Langra and Marko Maglaic.

Images of Port Phillip by Michael Kluge

Images of Port Phillip by Michael Kluge

Punchinello Pop-Up presented by Grid Art Space

Punchinello Pop-Up presented by Grid Art Space