Melbourne Art Safari #1: we’re not in Canberra anymore.

I’ve recently returned from an art safari in Melbourne, aka Struggletown aka The Ghetto. The Canberra ghetto. Moving to Melbourne is somewhat of a rite of passage for young Canberran creative types, just as young Melbourne creative types yearn for New York or Berlin. (I don’t know what’s left for people in New York and Berlin). Henceforth, the place is teeming with artists who have at one time or another called Canberra home, whether it’s something they would openly admit to or not. They’re everywhere.

While the true premise of my visit was to check out the Next Wave Festival (more on that later), the trip quickly morphed into a giant Canberra catch-up, where I was impressed to find just how many former ACT artists are giving Melbourne a run for its money.

This includes (but is not limited to) Liang Luscombe, Dan Bell, Kate Smith, Trevelyan Clay, Geoff Newton, Tim Price, Paul Wotherspoon, Margaret Goninon and Dionisia Salas Hammer. And of course I couldn’t forget  Charlie Sofo, an expat who relocated following his graduation from the ANU School of Art in 2005.

Image: Tim Metherall

His hard work and tireless mind are beginning to pay dividends – Sofo is currently exhibiting in the project space at Heide Museum of Modern Art, where curator Sue Cramer has tackled the enormously difficult task of drawing a selection of works from his huge and incredibly diverse oeuvre. Sofo’s works exist somewhere between, or as a combination of, object, occurrence and documentation. This means the exhibition is comprised largely of video or text-based works, complimented in this case by the three-dimensional piece Balls (2010). This orderly assembly of found or constructed ball-shaped items sits happily in conversation with the work of Simryn Gill in the gallery next door and perhaps even speaks more loudly.

I Wander is a gentle (albeit all too short) introduction to Sofo’s rapidly expanding practice that will ignite curiosity in new friends and inspire nostalgia in old.

I Wander is on show at Heide until the 25th of July.

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