Melbourne Art Fair 2014

Ken and Julia Yonetani, The Last Suppermarket, Melbourne Art Fair, 2014

I haven’t been to Melbourne in, god, maybe six or seven years. But it’s as brilliant a city as I remember it and the Melbourne Art Fair was the perfect excuse to make a return visit. And not just because it turned the whole excursion into a legitimate tax deduction.

Art fairs being what they are – ostensibly very glossy, visually stimulating, champagne-soaked exercises in high-end retail – I’m always fascinated by the way they expose, so matter of factly, so much of the art world ecology – the collector, the dealer, the price tags.

Frieze London left a huge impression of me the first time I went – more H&M-Oxford-St-flagship-store-two-days-before-Christmas crazy than anything else, but I was grateful nonetheless for the experience and the insight to it all and I particularly appreciated the Frieze Projects platform, offering emerging artists and more experimental art the opportunity for critical consideration amidst the ringing of cash register bells.

As uncomfortable as it makes me, thinking about art in terms of its retail potential, it’s a bit naive to think that the art world can exist without its market. So I suppose it’s a question of power really – and who that ultimately lies with.

But I really enjoyed the Melbourne Art Fair and it was a great opportunity to connect with some artists and galleries that I’ve worked with or interviewed before. And the venue, the Royal Exhibition Hall in Carlton Gardens, is pretty spectacular.

While I was there I conducted a couple of “On the Couch” artist interviews for Art Collector magazine. I’m not sure I have a career in television journalism ahead of me but nonetheless I enjoyed the experience and was reminded yet again how much I get from talking to artists about their work and what motivates them to make what they do.

And because no trip to Melbourne would be complete without some street art watching…