Art & us: Art & the city

Art & us: Art & the city

Where there are cities, there are artists. They are often the first human developers on the fringes of urban areas, and no city is complete without its galleries, its music venues and its literature. The great metropolises of the world lean heavily on their arts communities to define their artistic signatures, created and shaped by the artists who live and work there. But what role does the city play in forming the artistic practice of those who live within her boundaries?

Writer and editor Penny Modra sits down with a panel including Tony Ellwood, director of the National Gallery of Victoria and the brains behind the Melbourne Now exhibition, design Professor Paul Carter, Artistic Director of Next Wave Emily Sexton and cartoonist and creator of Melbhattan short film Oslo Davis to talk about the two-way artistic interaction that is life in the modern city.


Portrait of Tony Ellwood

Tony Ellwood

Tony Ellwood is the director of the National Gallery of Victoria, and was the initiator behind the concept of the current exhibition Melbourne Now.

Portrait of Paul Carter

Paul Carter

Paul Carter is a writer and artist. Recent books include Ground Truthing: Explorations in a Creative Region (2010), Meeting Place: the Human Encounter and the Challenge of Coexistence (2013) and Ecstacies and Elegies, Poems (2013). Alterations (2014), a public artwork for Dandenong’s new Civic Square, was delivered through his design studio, Material Thinking. Paul is Professor of Design (Urbanism) at RMIT University.

Portrait of Penny Modra

Penny Modra

Penny Modra is the editorial director at The Good Copy, a Melbourne-based writing school and consultancy. She is a regular ‘grammar enthusiast’ guest on ABC Radio Melbourne and teaches editing in RMIT University's Professional Writing and Editing program. Penny writes occasional features for the Guardian, Vice Australia, Frankie and Smith Journal.

Portrait of Emily Sexton

Emily Sexton

Emily Sexton is a former Head of Programming for the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas.

She was the recipient of a prestigious Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in 2014. Previously, she was Artistic Director of Next Wave (2010–14), where her key achievements were a radical rethink of an arts festival model, and a series of landmark commissions, publications and talks featuring First Nations artists, co-curated with Tony Albert and Tahjee Moar and titled Blak Wave.

In 2013, she was Artistic Director of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations at the Melbourne Recital Centre. She was also Creative Producer for Melbourne Fringe Festival for 2008–10.

Emily has been a proud Board Member for Arena Theatre Company, Snuff Puppets and Theatre Network Victoria, and is alumnus of the Australia Council’s Emerging Leaders Program (2011). She is a regular peer assessor for the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, and other philanthropic trusts and foundations. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications, English) from the University of Sydney (2005). She is a regular host and facilitator for writers’ festivals and arts organisations around Australia.

Portrait of Oslo Davis

Oslo Davis

Oslo Davis is an illustrator, cartoonist and artist who has drawn for a number of organisations worldwide, including the New York Times, the Age, the MonthlyMeanjin, SBS and the Guardian.

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