Arts Flashback

To celebrate Arts Victoria's 40th anniversary we've hit the archives
and uncovered some choice moments in the development of
Victoria's arts sector.

Click on the images below to view the stories and photo galleries, share them with others, and find out how Victoria grew to be the arts and cultural powerhouse it is today.


Bell-bottoms, handlebar moustaches, platform shoes, our daring approach to fashion (and facial hair) belied an era of serious social change and political drama in 1970s Australia.

We scrapped the White Australia Policy and welcomed an era of multiculturalism. Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.

We had more leisure time that ever before. Norm coaxed us off the couch with Life. Be in it and we got fit. But when we weren't out BMXing, ten-pin bowling or roller-skating, we were listening to Skyhooks and Sherbet, tuning into the new world of FM radio, and watching Number 96 on our brand new colour TVs.

Here in Victoria, a creative community of artists, craftspeople, theatre-makers and musicians were laying the foundation of the mighty independent arts sector we enjoy today.

Premier Rupert Hamer put the arts firmly on the Government's agenda with the creation of Australia's first state Ministry for the Arts. Its first priorities? Getting the construction of Southbank's Arts Centre complex moving, creating a chain of regional performing arts centres, and bringing art out into the public.

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Gertrude Street, Gilding the Lily (detail of exhibition), 1986. From left- Luanne Noble, Philip Faulks, Guiseppe Romeo, Loretta Quinn, Tim Jones
Gertrude Street, Gilding the Lily (detail of exhibition), 1986. From left- Luanne Noble, Philip Faulks, Guiseppe Romeo, Loretta Quinn, Tim Jones


Gertrude Street Artists' Spaces

The Gertrude Street Artists' Studio Spaces project was officially opened by the Minister for the Arts in August 1985 in a revitalised former art supply shop. Housing nearly 20 artists at subsidised rentals, and including the use of two studios for visiting interstate and international artists, the centre's primary aim was to stimulate the development of the contemporary arts in Melbourne.


The Gertrude Street site also had a gallery space to be used for a changing temporary exhibitions program and focus for the studio artists. It was to form a direct link between the artists and the community.

Named initially after its address – 200 Gertrude Street – the organisation has since expanded, transforming from an address to an entity, and changing its name to Gertrude Contemporary in 2010.

Since 1985 the organisation has accumulated a vast alumni of past exhibiting and studio artists including some of Australia's leading names in contemporary art. Every artist who has represented Australia at the Venice Bienniale since 1999 has either held a studio or participated in an exhibition at Gertrude Contemporary.

In recent years, Gertrude Contemporary has built a strong international presence, with leading artists and curators from all over the world exhibiting in the galleries and staying in the studios.

With the momentum of its history behind it, Gertrude Contemporary is now the oldest, continually running contemporary art centre in Australia.

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