I love an open door, a view to something beyond a wall, that little glimpse that creates just enough intrigue to lure your gaze. Open House Melbourne is that door left ajar, it’s a gate that someone forgot to lock. The mystery is still there, only now you can creep in, you can stare about, wide-eyed, imagine a different life, feel inspired, sympathetic, but still like you have only just scraped the surface. Walking around Melbourne while this event is on I feel as though I am walking around for the first time. Every building seems wondrous, mysterious and compelling. The closed doors become as alluring as the open ones. And once inside each building you come out with more questions than answers. And it seems that every year there is some you miss out on, and so many more to put on the list for next time.
The highlight of the weekend was not an open door, nor was it a house, but rather a gangplank and a boat. The boat tour of Port Melbourne was a fantastic gander about the docks, shipping containers and cranes of Port Melbourne. I was blown away by the scale, speed and efficiency of the docks. Seeing such large qualities of goods coming and going, the immensity of the cranes and the ships, and the speed and agility of the machinery is overwhelming in its ability to at once humble and concern.
Government House created a similar atmosphere though through much more traditionally beautiful means. The grandeur and scale of the building was truly awe inspiring but I was rather disappointed that the garden were not also open to the public. The grandeur of Government House made the beautiful Tasma Terrace seem almost small in comparison, and certainly it is in not nearly as good repair. It was fascinating to see inside the home of the National Trust, and see some of the stunning reproduction clothing that is being made there for exhibition.
After seeing so much heritage it was a excellent change to get a glimpse of the future at DesignInc. Set in the heritage walls of the GPO, this architecture firm has created a open flow, bright and airy space which stays true to the heritage of the building while also looking very modern. They are currently working on such projects as the redevelopment of the Queen Victoria Markets, something I feel very nervous about as I always fear the loss of the integrity of such iconic spaces once you start tinkering with them. But knowing that DesignInc is in charge I at least feel assured that the design will be ecologically sound and sustainable.
Though art gallery doors are always open, Nite Art as part of Open House Melbourne allows us a chance to experience the galleries and museums of Melbourne in a new way. Compared with Open House Melbourne I feel as though this years Nite Art was missing it’s usual buzz. Although as the night grew late and most of the galleries were closing we were steered toward the Ian Potter Museum of Art where the party truly began. Though it was a very relaxed party: people reclining on beanbags staring up at people sleeping in Julie Rrap: Remaking the World and a room full of people hypnotised by the tranquillising melodies of Melbourne duo The Orb Weavers.
The haunting art of Brook Andrew silenced the crowds, creating cleverly curated spaces which the viewer has to navigate, ducking under walls to enter entombed rooms filled with beautifully constructed coffins. The exhibition, titled Sanctuary: Tombs of the Outcasts was a perfect example of the power of art and curatorship to combine to create an immersive and powerful experience for the viewer.
And now the doors are closed again. But one thing Open House Melbourne does reveal is just how many doors are open, and open all the time. Churches, Museums, art galleries, heritage walks, National Trust houses, businesses and apartment buildings. And for the rest, we will wait impatiently for next year.