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Top 10 unmissables at the Melbourne Art Fair

Miranda Tay

From live performances to a salt-of-the-earth recreation of a supermarket, this year’s Melbourne Art Fair has surprises galore. And this year we're blogging live from the Vernissage!
Top 10 unmissables at the Melbourne Art Fair

Detail from a Joana Vasconcelos artwork, Pearl Lam Galleries. Image: supplied

Interested in this year's Melbourne Art Fair? Don't forget to click the 'View Live Event' icon to the left, or at the end of this article, to see our live tweets, images and other coverage of this year's Vernissage.

  1. Michael Zavros and Rolls Royce: In this first-time unique collaboration, leading contemporary artist Zavros (seen below with the Rolls Royce, image: supplied) will present a bespoke performance entitled Forty that features a Rolls-Royce Wraith and international twin models, Jordan and Zac Stenmark, in an elaborate, composed performance, which will complement Zavros’ showing at Auckland gallery Starkwhite’s stand: a melange of baroque and pop influences with references to the art historical tradition of stilllife. The performance marks a moment in time. Three days after the Fair closes, Zavros will turn 40, a milestone he has chosen to mark with the Fair. The models will offer chocolate gold coins embossed with the artist's signature monogram and birth date, sourced from the Rolls-Royce to an assembled audience, with quiet ceremony, as a gift. Zavros said Rolls-Royce, a luxury partner of the Fair, ‘espouses the timeless values of authenticity, bespoke craftsmanship, charisma and attention to detail, all of which I embrace in my own work.’ The installation will be unveiled at Vernissage, the opening night of the Melbourne Art Fair.
  2. Pearl Lam Galleries: For the first time, one of Asia’s hottest contemporary art galleries, Pearl Lam, which has bases in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore, will exhibit at the Fair with a major body of cross-cultural works such as Chinese artists Zhu Jinshi (whose work, Yellow Yulan Magnolia Spread on the Floor, 2013, is shown below, image: supplied), Qin Yufen, Su Xiaobai and Michael Chow, Australian painter Ben Quilty, English painter Loreta Saez Franco, Japanese artist Sayaka Ishizuka, and Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. Gallery owner Pearl Lam told ArtsHub she sees art as communication and prefers art works that are ‘formless’ and about ‘cross-cultural experiences’. ‘The point of this Australian representation is to interrogate “what is different culture, and how does it establish this co-existence in art form?” ’ she said at a media lunch. ‘We do not want homogeneity and uniformity of art. We want an art world that is different.’
  3. Luke Roberts Presents Pope Alice: For opening night Vernissage ticket and collector pass holders only, performance artist Luke Roberts will bring his world of elaborate mythologies and multiple personae to the Art Fair, as his most celebrated persona Pope Alice – a cross between the pope and an alien – continues her pilgrimage ‘Walking to the New Jerusalem’.
  4. Ken and Julia Yonetani, The Last Suppermarket: a full-sized, fully functional supermarket (below, image: has been especially conceived for the Fair by this artist duo represented by Fehily Contemporary. Every item is sculpted out of deathly white salt – which has direct connections to the increasing salinity of Victoria’s farmland – and will be available for sale.
  5. Dianne Tanzer Gallery + projects in collaboration with Helen Gory Galerie: This Is No Fantasy presents Outland, a collaborative installation by Valerie Sparks and Abdul-Rahman Abdullah that brings together a shared interest in notions of migration and cross-cultural identity. For the Fair, Sparks has created a 16-metre long, lush utopian landscape that references French scenic wallpapers of the 19th Century, while Abdullah’s hand-carved sculptural work will provide an autobiographic exploration of the natural world.
  6. MAF Edge, Social Capital: Curator Jacqueline Doughty presents a new exhibition platform dedicated to experimental contemporary art practices. ‘Social Capital’ brings together performative and socially engaged artworks that blur the boundary between artist and audience, and features practitioners of relational and participatory art including Peter Burke (seen below at Artstage Singapore, 2013, image: and Adele Varcoe (who will stage a series of seemingly accidental ‘mishaps’ throughout the Royal Exhibition Building); and Jess Olivieri, who will commission the Brunswick Women’s Choir to perform amid the crowd.
  7. Erwin Wurm at the Anna Schwartz Gallery: The quirky Austrian artist will present several of his unusual and humorous sculptures presented at the Fair by Anna Schwartz Gallery, including a ‘fat track pants’ and ‘hoodie’.
  8. Toms Art Project: Place a bid for the sole efforts of artists Julian Meagher (whose shoe design is seen below, image:, Jasper King and Mark Whalen, who are painting pairs of white Toms shoes with their own bespoke designs to be auctioned online for the Red Dust charity, which helps disadvantaged Indigenous communities.
  9. MAF Platform: The Platform continues the Fair’s commitment to exhibiting the best emerging talent by presenting curated galleries and artist-run initiatives younger than five years. This year’s participants include blackartprojects, .M Contemporary, Art Collective WA, Venn Gallery, Lindberg Galleries, Moana Project Space and Daine Singer.
  10. Pop-up performances on Melbourne trams: Going to work on the tram tracks during Melbourne Art Week – a seven-day citywide program of lectures, forums, free children’s workshops and events running 11-17 August – will be a hoot. Expect to be surprised by pop-up performances by artists during your morning commute. It could be a flash musical performance or just someone trying to make you laugh. Do. Please.



  1. Anna Pappas Gallery: Chair of the Melbourne Art Foundation Anna Pappas has been a long-time supporter of the Fair, which she describes as a Melbourne institution that has been operating for over 24 years. ‘This year, we will push conceptual boundaries and offer some exciting new concepts,’ she said of the Fair. Pappas’ gallery will feature artists such as Stephen Giblett, Michaela Gleave and Jarek Wojcik.
  2. Flinders Lane Gallery: Two gallery spaces comprises The Light Side, which will feature the gallery’s artists who engage with the Light and a brighter abstract aesthetic – artists include Jo Davenport, Terri Brooks and Marise Maas – and The Dark Side, where artists such as Rebecca Hastings (whose work Rude Fingers II 2014 is shown below, image: supplied), Meg Cowell and Garry Pumfrey will engage in the genre of realism to create work that explores the darker shades of the human experience.
  3. Michael Reid Gallery: new works by Joan Ross, Christian Thompson, Ham Darroch and Joseph McGlennon.
  4. Stills Gallery: the Sydney gallery presents a group exhibition of works by leading photographic artists Pat Brassington, Ricky Maynard, Trent Parke, Robyn Stacey and Roger Ballen.
  5. Arc One Gallery: a group exhibition of works by Australian artists Dani Marti, Nike Savas, Justine Khamara, Janet Lawrence and Imants Tillers.

Melbourne Art Fair
Royal Exhibition Building
13-17 August 2014

Note: At the Melbourne Art Fair, galleries will be presented in two sections, with established galleries in the main MAF Galleries section and emerging galleries and artist collectives in the MAF Platform section.

Click here for a full list of Melbourne Art Fair exhibitors.

Click here to book tickets for the fair.

About the author

Miranda Tay is Deputy Editor of