MELVILLE – a swanky version of God’s waiting room with gophers, walking sticks and fish oil capsules stretching into oblivion.
Well that’s the stereotype, but if you dig beneath the surface there’s a thriving sub-culture of young artists and performers spearheading the suburb’s transition from sleepy hollow to Andy Warhol’s Factory.
You can get a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into their creative minds when 60 artists across the suburb open their studios, galleries and homes to the public on April 29 and 30 as part of Melville Open Studios.
They’ll be a wide range of art on show with everything from painting, sculpture and ceramics to textile and printmaking.
One of the younger guns taking part is visual artist and educator Luke Morgan.
He specialises in funky portraits that combine the candour of Lucian Freud with a hint of pop art. By mixing portraits with street art and text, he subtly explores social control and the themes of mental health and wellbeing.
“Contemporary artists such as Andrew Salgado, Kehinde Wiley and Mwanel Pierre-Louis have influenced the way I see portraiture as being about more than just the sitter, but rather as a way to communicate a message to the viewer,” Morgan says.
“Artists such as Jeffrey Smart and Ed Ruscha have inspired my use of text and the imagery of street signs and other forms of traffic control.
“I aim to communicate ideas of mental health and internal thoughts through the form of portrait paintings. My recent artworks have included people who connected to the themes in my works and were willing to pose as the subject for my paintings.”
Artists are by nature a sensitive bunch and many would recoil in horror at the thought of someone seeing their half-finished creations, but Morgan says he finds the open days “liberating”.
“For me it is a very liberating experience as discussing my paintings and sculptures helps to clarify ideas for the projects I’m currently working on, ensuring that concepts are being appropriately communicated to the viewer,” he says. “Having these interactions across an entire weekend leaves me motivated to make new work, energised with new ideas to explore.”
There have been signs of a burgeoning young art scene in Melville in recent times with the opening of the innovative NextDoor 24/7 gallery on Canning Highway, as well as some fantastic edgy productions at Melville Theatre and a series of free summer concerts with young bands in local parks.
Morgan says Melville council has played a key role in growing the local art scene: “The art scene in Melville is thriving with a number of opportunities for people to get involved in exhibitions, workshops and networking meetings, regardless of age. The City supports the arts through competitions, awards and activities such as mural projects that allow artists to be involved and build their experience and skills.”
Now in its fifth year, the annual Melville Open Studios features some great local talent including renowned ceramic artist Sally Smith and mixed media artist Jacqueline Gibson. For more info visit melvilleopenstudios.com
by STEPHEN POLLOCK