An Artful Escape
As well as artist recommendations, we’ve got unexpected spots to enjoy art alongside other activities. No visit to Melbourne is complete without a vineyard tour, plus you presumably want to stay in a hip hotel while you’re there. These three wineries are just a short, scenic drive from Melbourne, and feature impressive art collections and programmes, while the walls of this city-centre hotel serve as a mini gallery.
POINT LEO ESTATE
Set on Mornington Peninsula, Point Leo Estate comprises rolling vineyards, wild indigenous flora, its fine dining restaurant Laura and an impressive sculpture park. As Australia’s foremost privately owned sculpture park, the outdoor gallery features more than 60 artworks by Australian artists such as Deborah Halpern, Bruce Armstrong, Dean Bowen and Reko Rennie. There are also works by renowned international artists including Kaws, Jaume Plensa, Julian Opie and Antony Gormley. With a prospective programme of future acquisitions and site-specific commissions, the park is ever evolving.
Yering Station’s historic winery building, built in 1859, is a work of art in itself with its rustic charm, high ceilings and white-painted, handmade brick walls. The winery operates as both a tasting room and a contemporary art gallery, featuring works by established and emerging Australian artists, with exhibitions rotating every four to six weeks. A percentage of art sales is donated to the Leukaemia Auxiliary of the Royal Children’s Hospital.
If you’re visiting between October and December, be sure to check out the Yarra Valley Arts/Yering Station Sculpture Exhibition, which has taken place at Yering Station since 2001.
The young trio behind Fin Wines are a new generation—and breed—of winemakers. Calling themselves “a fermentation collective”, their boutique winery in Dixons Creek, Yarra Valley has become something of a cult favourite not just for its sustainable, organic, biodynamic wines, but also for its beautiful bottles featuring original artwork by Melbournebased block printing artist Simon Bethell.
“I started following Simon’s work on Instagram and had purchased some of his prints,” says Fin Wines co-founder Angus Hean. “He’s such a great guy, and we sort of leave all the design work up to him.”
Bethell’s illustrations are a playful interpretation of Fin Wines’ cheeky wine names—like I’m All Ears, Farm Daddy and Area 51, an “extra-terrestrial rosé” featuring an illustration of a baby alien that the folks at Fin describe as a “homage to Carl Sagan and Sigourney Weaver”.
OVOLO SOUTH YARRA
The design-forward Ovolo South Yarra boasts one of the largest—and loudest— private art collections in an Australian hotel, featuring pieces owned by the hotel group’s Hong Kong-based founder, Girish Jhunjhnuwala.
Lined up above the elevators in the lobby are a series of paintings by Australian pop artist Ben Tankard which celebrate icons of pop culture from the Seventies, including David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, as well as book covers such as those of Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las
Vegas and Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid
Test. In the basement, one of a trio of artworks by Paris-based artist Monika Nowak functions as a secret entrance to the hidden basement bar—a space where “Studio 54 meets art deco charm”, says Rachel Luchetti, co-director of the award-winning design firm Luchetti Krelle that oversaw the hotel’s interiors.
Other featured artists include Australia’s Johnny Romeo and France’s Punk Me Tender, Mr Brainwash and Jean-Baptiste Launay, better known as Jisbar, who is known for reinterpreting classical masterpieces, and was the first artist to send a piece of artwork into space. His vibrant rendition of the Mona Lisa hangs at the entrance of the hotel’s plant-based restaurant, Lona Misa.