Melbourne is one city that doesn't need to put on more pedestals. She has hogged the crown for EIU's Most Liveable City 7 years in a row until 2018 and has bragging rights to being at or near the top of almost all the most influential liveability lists available out there. But just try to stop us swooning over her luscious green spaces, world-class arts scene across various disciplines and characteristic neighbourhoods full off individualistic charms, and you might find yourself engaged in an exercise of futility. Looking forward, Melbourne's plans to further entrench her position as Australia's "Cultural Capital" are well on their way and Bespokcracy is particularly excited about the expansion of the National Gallery of Victoria that will create Australia's largest contemporary art gallery, and surely the most exciting too. With her population just past Sydney's, making it Australia's biggest city (and also its most diverse), it seems you will always be on the money if you bet on Melboourne.
wee black book : MELBOURNE EDITION
TOKYO WEE BLACK BOOK
D I S C O V E R
NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA
Australia’s oldest and arguably the most prestigious public art gallery, the NGV comprises of the NGV International and The Ian Potter Centre in Federation Square. It anchors Melbourne’s cultural precinct and is often the only place in Australia that is able to pull in blockbuster exhibitions like the Dior 70 Years Retrospective show in 2017. In a few years’ time, it will also include the NGV Contemporary, which will become Australia’s largest contemporary art venues. This extension is also expected to further entrench NGV’s position as the most important arts institution in the country- and Melbourne as a major art centre anywhere in the world. The Contemporary blow-out will also include the establishment of a new creative hub that will be home to the Australian Performing Arts Gallery, the Australian Music Vault and other diverse independent arts organisations.
AUSTRALIAN CENTRE OF CONTEMPORARY ART (ACCA)
“A sculpture in which to show art” is quite simply, how architects Roger Wood and Randal Marsh or Wood Marsh describe their now-iconic rusty steel building for one of Australia’s prime contemporary art spaces, the ACCA. It is based on the “kunsthalle” model and is Australia’s only major publicly-funded gallery focused on commissioning rather than collecting, and has since produced a most eclectic and artistically diverse collection that continuously aims to encourage rigourous discussion and artistic intellectual curiosity. This symbiotic programme of new commissions and exhibitions has since established its place amongst the other greats in the public gallery world in its 30 years history.
HEIDE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
The Melbourne suburb of Bulleen might be an unlikely location for showcasing one of the most respected collections of modern art in Australia but the Heide Museum of Modern Art is well worth your half-hour drive from your central Melbourne pied-à-terre. John and Sunday Reed transformed this once-neglected 15-hectare farmland into their art wonderland, and the collection has now grown to include both towering figures in Australian modern art like Sidney Nolan and Joy Hester and iconic international artists like Anish Kapoor and Peter Booth. The museum also upholds a glorious tradition of promoting living contemporary artists who are predominantly Australian but also with a noteworthy international influence. The collection is now spread over three buildings, including the handsome Heide III cloaked in the distinctive black zinc and the magnificent Sculpture Park and Garden.
D I S H
GIMLET AT CAVENDISH HOUSE
In evoking a Prohibition-era old-school charm that befits the 1920s Art Deco building that it is situated in, Anthony McConnell conjures brilliant chicanery into making you think that his latest project is established way before 2020. The menu offerings are a little from a bygone era too but executed to a lofty a height as its soaring ceilings and still unmistakably Aussie. But of course, start (or end) the meal with a namesake cocktail, which is updated to be made with 3 types of citrus.
Rich in heritage, in its name and everything it represents, Aru is the group of islands which ancient seafarers frequented as part of the Sino-Indonesian-Australian route. It proudly focuses on early cooking technicques to come up with the delectable plates of Southeast Asian-skewed grub. Stylishly decked out but yet retaining its casual regional charm, this is one happy, hearty place you would want to frequent.
Of course, Australia's best Chinese food is in Melbourne and we suspect asking around Melburnian foodies, the name Flower Drum would be on the tips of most tongues. Superbly prepared Cantonese food set against the backdrop of an imperial opulence that is retro but not old, this legendary restaurant seems here to stay for awhile more to come.
S N O O Z E
THE ART SERIES HOTELS
A quintet of boutique hotels (albeit owned by the larger Mantra Group under its enlightened ‘Art Series Hotels’ brand) each dedicated and inspired by a renowned Australian contemporary artist, The Blackman, The Cullen, The Olsen, The Chen and The Larwill, is well worth a hotel-hop in Melbourne should an ideal vacation entails you living and sleeping side by side with the art. Each is also thoughtfully situated in a vibrant and exciting neighbourhood which ensures your cultural immersion extends beyond your hotel room and lobby. The Larwill is especially popular and celebrates the work of Ballarat-born artist, David Larwill, whose eye-catching figurative expressionists works are bound to put that skip in your beat; while The Olsen offers a more contemplative experience through the honouring of the works of John Olsen, a household name in contemporary Australian landscape painting.
With only 12 exclusive suites and greenery offered by the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, this is easily the poshest that the Melbourne boutique hospitality scene is serving up these days. It is immediately apparent how much thought the Carr Design Group has put into the design of the place, with the luxurious velvet draps, hardwood floors and charcoal bathroom pods. This is further complemented by the commissioned artworks around, first with Laura Woodward’s ethereal installation piece headlining its foyer and Marc Freeman’s imposing mixed-media painting not far away. And with beautiful touches like curated in-room breakfasts by chef Scott Pickett, this is one place to write home effusively about.