Mel Kerr - 'These Days'

Wednesday 22 June - Saturday 9 July 2022

The concept for this exhibition was born out of the intensity that was the ever present Melbourne lockdowns. The sudden fierce confinement to one place that was indicative of the COVID lockdown caused me, like others, great anxiety. It also gave me pause to think of memories of when I was most free, when the world was most free.

I remembered how as a kid in the 80s we would ride to the milk bar, no helmet, no shoes on hot days to buy a 20 cent ice cream. How the milk bar was this wondrous Aladdin’s cave full of 2 cent sweets and signs for all sorts of things. How as a kid a bike could take you anywhere and 50 cents was a big deal. I found myself thinking of my university days in the 90s, of going to friends parties in old terrace houses in Carlton and how they were always half falling down, full of an eclectic array of furniture and people. Hanging out on Brunswick Street on a Friday night. Going to openings at Roar Studios, wandering through bookstores, music stores and comic stores. The street full of life and bright quirky shops with these wonderful sculptural awnings. I wanted to feel these memories again, to physically hold them and share them - in a way reliving a freedom that I couldn’t experience at that moment.

I was no stranger to these types of architectural sculptures having explored them on and off over the last 20 years. A key ingredient to how the works were created comes from the times of lockdown restrictions. Getting art supplies was a tricky business and so required me to be inventive and source a lot of found items. Walking around the block, I would see so much Styrofoam out for collection and these surprisingly architectural objects made me think of buildings and so folded into my memories of these wondrous past places. So while listening to music of the time, of my time, These Days was born.

After almost two years, there are 13 sculptures, 13 stories, 13 memories. I have always found the most intriguing of stories, the richest of memories to be told through buildings. Buildings unashamedly show their age, they tell the stories of their years, the trials and the triumphs in their facades. Unlike portraits of the human face which we read and label off almost instinctively, buildings provoke us to look deeper and enquire as to its story. Often provoking our own memories of like places, with this exhibition I invite the viewer to share in my memories and walk through their own.