Exhibition review: A1 Darebin Art Salon, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre

The A1 Darebin Art Salon is a lovingly curated art prize exhibition showcasing the breadth of local talent.

The City of Darebin in Melbourne’s north is home to diverse creative practitioners and, each year, the A1 Darebin Art Salon offers a snapshot of their myriad approaches, subjects and sensibilities.

The art prize is open to artists and crafters at any stage of their careers who live, work or study in the area. This time it features over 150 artists whose work covers every two-dimensional (and spanning into the three-dimensional) manifestation imaginable.

Spread across Bundoora Homestead Art Centre’s ground and upper level galleries, the prize exhibition guides visitors into an enclave of vibrant artworks. Curatorial pairings can be seen throughout the show, where nearby works share a synergy – some subtle, others bold, but all with satisfying visual and contextual links.

These include Maria Gambaro’s Raging Bush Fire (memory of the wall of bushfire while driving along a highway and trying to escape through) (2022) in conversation with Tahlia Palmer’s No Records (2021), Xavier Wear Gardener’s 7 minutes (2022) with Kim Loughran’s equally energetic collage Ordinary People (2022) and George Eustice’s still life Fruit Bowl (2021) that seems to have been plucked from Heidi Schoenheimer’s painting Preston Market Morning (2021).

Some standouts for this reviewer include the all-too-relatable Pandemic Daze (2021) by Bronwyn Calcutt, where cubicle profiles on Zoom dominate our vision, only tolerable accompanied by a glass of wine (the works in the background of the painting are equally fascinating), Jason Morey’s powerful photographic work Pandemic Blues (2022) and Karen McDonald’s sentimental pastel drawing of a fish and chip shop for lease, titled No more Friday night dinners from here (2023).

Bronwyn Calcutt, ‘Pandemic Daze’, 2021. Photo: ArtsHub.

Included in the exhibition are also works by artists such as Aylsa McHugh, Serene Paul, Sonia Kretschmar, Sheila D’Cruz, Penny Pollard and more.

The winning work, Of A Hot Summer With Few Resources (2022) by Chilean artist Miguel Villanueva, is a linocut print that depicts a masterfully rendered neighbourhood scene and evokes memories of the small, ordinary joys of childhood. Villanueva will be presenting a solo exhibition at Bundoora Homestead in 2024.

Read: Exhibition review: On the Edge, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Set in Bundoora Homestead’s red-brick building and heritage interior, the exhibition is a proud showcase of the talent that Darebin has to offer, and a reminder of the connection between art, people and place.

A1 Darebin Art Salon 2023 is on view at Bundoora Homestead Arts Centre until 24 June; free. Don’t forget to cast your vote for the People’s Choice Awards.

The exhibition is part of City of Darebin’s FUSE Autumn Festival, running until 26 March.

Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. Most recently she took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne. Instagram: @lleizy_