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 Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.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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Noel Counihan working on his lithograph, 1986. Courtesy of the Australian Print Workshop
Noel Counihan working on his lithograph, 1986. Courtesy of the Australian Print Workshop


Australian Print Workshop opens

The Australian (formerly Victorian) Print Workshop was established in 1981. The idea was developed by a group of prominent Melbourne artists, inspired by places they had seen and experienced in Europe – at that time nothing of its type existed in Australia. The Workshop got off the ground with the assistance of the Ministry for the Arts, which appointed the inaugural committee and provided funding towards core operations.


The initial purpose of the Australian Print Workshop was to provide artists with access to a professionally equipped printmaking studio that offered a range of printmaking equipment, facilities and services. Its foundation committee included artists Noel Counihan, Bea Maddock, Grahame King and Brian Seidel (chair), and the inaugural director was printmaker, John Loane.

Its scope quickly grew and in 1989 the organisation changed its name from the Victorian Print Workshop to the Australian Print Workshop to more accurately reflect its national role.

Originally housed at the Meat Market Craft Centre in North Melbourne, the Workshop became an incorporated association and was re-established at Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, in February 1985. It has been in its current premises at 210 Gertrude Street, since 1991.

Today the Australian Print Workshop is Australia's leading centre for fine art printmaking. It collaborates with artists to produce high quality, innovative work, presents exhibitions, undertakes commissions and runs education programs. Works produced at the Australian Print Workshop are represented in all major Australian public art gallery and museum collections.

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