Pavilion residency: CoLab Arts in the Park

Written by Nancy Lane

CoLab Popping Up in the Park for Everyone

CoLab Arts in the Park is a pop-up workshop space and gallery dedicated to bringing people and art together. It is a place where people from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities can create, experiment and interact.  

Located in the Pavilion at Fitzroy Gardens, next to the miniature Tudor Village, it runs from July until the end of September. Opening hours during August and September are Thursdays to Mondays, 10.30am to 4pm. CoLab Arts in the Park is supported by the City of Melbourne through its Creative Spaces program.

A Hive of Activity

CoLab Arts in the Park serves as a venue for art workshops, demonstrations, artist talks, guest speakers, exhibitions, spoken-word bilingual readings, artist collaborations and more. The CoLab facilitators are working closely with several organisations that support vulnerable and priority communities, enabling their members to actively participate in activities free of charge.

During the first week of operation in July, participants in two screen-printing workshops created their own designs to make colourful T-shirts and carry bags. The ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aahs’ as they finished applying the ink and removed the screens was a joy to hear.

There are many more demonstrations and workshops on offer, across a range of mediums – from creating glass lampwork beads or designing elegant dried floral arrangements, to sketching in the Fitzroy Gardens Conservatory and making brooches from found objects. Check what activities are on and sign up through Trybooking.

Drop In with Family and Friends

CoLab has also proved an attraction to casual park visitors. During school holidays, numerous families dropped in. The children especially loved the workshops where they sculpted ‘crazy critters’ from clay; the critters ranged from a many-armed monster to a dancing banana cyclops.  

The children and their parents also enjoyed chatting with the artists about the works on display. The children were amazed at the vertebrae made from porcelain and gold; the ‘cities’ created from nuts and bolts, and the delicate wreathes made from dry flowers. Adults appreciated the beautiful handmade jewellery, serving boards and tea towels available for purchase.

The Artists Involved

Several artists, themselves from diverse backgrounds and working across a range of mediums, are organising the exhibition and program of activities. They include the following:

Elsa Thorp merges the outdoors with indoors, creating unique botanical sculptures from natural materials that are locally grown or that she has gathered. She also creates fresh flower and dried flower arrangements. Elsa is holding workshops that share her passion for nature and the benefits of hand making with natural materials.

Roze Elizabeth uses screen printing techniques on textiles and wood. She focuses on sustainability in her art by reducing the use of or reclaiming exposed screens. The products she creates are heavily influenced by Oceanic culture and Italian architecture. She is running screen printing workshops as well as bilingual poetry readings.

Nancy D Lane is a found object assemblage artist and jewellery designer. She creates wall sculptures, 3D sculptures and brooches from the metal, wood, tiles and plastic she finds on Melbourne’s streets. Nancy is running workshops where participants can make brooches or small cityscape wall sculptures from street trash.  

Pauline Delaney loves working with hot glass, because it is fluid and ‘alive’. She tries not to over-control it, as it tends to have a life of its own. To her, a glass bead is like a canvas, expanding the boundaries of light and colour. She will be giving demonstrations of her work methods, and sharing her passion for glass.

Vincenza Fazzalori interweaves the multi-dimensional threads of her creative and professional practice with being a provider of Art+Health programs and services. She uses fine white and terracotta clays to produce small production runs of individually handmade ceramic beads and components, as well as creating larger vessels from Raku.

Laurie Franklin works with oils, acrylics and mixed media, including glass, textiles and collage. She collects vintage newspapers and magazines, as well as dated advertising, which she incorporates into her work. She also uses salvaged and everyday objects like scrap wood, tin foil and scrap fabric from second hand clothing.

Dan Elborne is an artist whose preferred working material is clay. He creates ceramic installations and sculpture, which intersect personal experience with broader-reaching subjects and historic events. He designs, produces and exhibits his work as a means of inviting viewers into a gentle space of contemplation and reflection.

Responding Positively to COVID-19

COVID-19 has highlighted the role and importance of the arts in ameliorating the impacts of social, cultural and economic dislocation. The impact of the many lockdowns in Melbourne and across Victoria have created a need for artists to re-connect and re-engage with audiences.

CoLab Arts in the Park is creating an environment that brings diverse people together by encouraging participation, creativity and expression. The goal of the artists involved is to provide positive experiences that will help sustain the community through difficult times.

Follow the group on Instagram at @colabartsinthepark and like CoLab Arts In the Park on Facebook