The kitty residents are delightful – some very inquisitive and playful, balanced by more sedate “don’t touch me” cats. The new policy about restricting children should also be extended to those who are Cat person versus Cat person person. What does this mean? It’s the difference between people that like cats, and people who understand how to interact with other people who also like cats. It’s having an apprecation of whether someone wants quiet time or wants to play (being considerate about animals’ needs as well as the other people there).
The main rooms can be quite busy with people depending on whether they’ve been booked out for that time slot (you enter on the hour). I didn’t really want to hang out with other cat people, I came for the cats – so I slunk off into another room and sat with the cats who don’t like others (we had lots in common – Clara and Lynx were the best).
We were relaxing together, and then another lady came along with her fancy noisy feather toy, waved it at the cat in my lap, then they ran off together into the sunset. She totally cut my [cat]grass, like I was lying on the beach telling my life story to the man of my dreams and a distracting vapid bikini type walked past. Of course the cat ran away of their own enticed will, but that lady should have been sensitive enough to realise that we were already having a nice time without her prying.
It’s okay, I won in the end because I found some cat toys behind the couch which were very exciting for all the residents. It occurred to me that perhaps I’m more of a cat than Cat person or Cat person person.
Of course you visit for the cats more than for the drinks (‘more cat playroom than cafe…’), I understand that this will change with the menu expanding in the future. Hopeful that they’ll have something like the delicious-looking high teas at London’s Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium or the organic local fare at Paris’ Le Café des Chats.
Some of the cats are also getting wise to photo shoots and offering their preferred poses – this photo from Rachel is very similar to mine above. If the cats had some glamour shoots, I think people would buy good-quality photos. Australia’s first vegan B&B, Bed & Broccoli, already does this by selling prints of some of their animal residents.
It would also be great if you could buy drinks as 1 for the price of 2, with the price of the ‘suspended coffee’ going towards all the cats or a cat of your choice (their very own tip jars). This could be tracked with donation boxes featuring each of the cats (the boxes could be mounted on the wall so the cats could climb on them, similar to perches featured in this article). Each cat could sponsor another cat currently in a shelter.
I’d recommend a visit to the Cat Cafe, I was lucky as a walk-in, but it’s best to book ahead.
Braving Melbourne’s variable weather, ARLIS/ANZ delegates iced the conference cake with a gallery crawl on Saturday.
Here are some quick notes and photos which won’t do the spaces or the works justice, visit them soon as the shows finish on Saturday 15 September.
Hand Held Gallery & Palmistry, Suite 18 of Paramount Arcade, 108 Bourke Street
Gallery owner Megan Herring is currently showing an exhibition of her works crafted from surprisingly expansive tea bag paper. The work reflects on the ephemeral nature of items that were once treasured, a bit like Schwenger’s book “The tears of things: melancholy and physical objects” which explores objects as custodians of our memories. Herring has created tea cups, elaborate doilies, remade teaspoons and beautiful lacy bunting and shelf paper edging. Hand Held Gallery is a charming space focused on the small/hand held and manages to fit lots of tiny zines, jewellery and knick knacks for sale. The gallery shares the space with a palm reader, and I really hope that they will one day offer arty high teas along with the palm readings.
Westspace, Level 1, 225 Bourke Street
Westspace was showing lots of work and was full of lots of people attending the Feminist Forum Day, linked to the show “A Dinner Party: setting the table” by Caroline Phillips and Victoria Duckett. The most telling feminist artwork was a graph from the C0untess showing art school enrolment and female representation in galleries. There are a few more feminist-related events – a talk on 13 September and films on 15 September listed on the Westspace calendar.
There are lots of other works in the other parts of Westspace, my favourites were David Capra’s “I must tell you this” and Jeremy Bakker’s “Satellite” – a marble swallowed and passed through the body undigested (it was still very shiny).
Kings ARI, Level 1, 171 King Street
Kings ARI was showing work by Anna Fuata, Rachel Haynes, and Diego Ramirez. Nina Mulhall’s work was in Dudspace. We accidentally embraced the concept of Ann Fuata’s “Song for the Mountain” waiting room installation and sat on the chairs – very convincing! This was paired with screens showing a dog in desolate landscapes – imbued with what my mother-in-law describes as “quiet, pensive sadness”.
Rachel Haynes’ “Muscleflex” had an amazing multicolour saturation of giant swathes of t-shirts, wall painting and beautifully mesmerising texta drawings. Diego Ramirez’s “Touch me Tiger” considered the role of gendered communication in media like music videos with a nightclub-like installation, and challenged our responses to the microphone in disruptive and surprising ways. Ramirez gave a fantastic talk which traversed music video innuendo, self-observation, perception of a person’s space in the world and the ways that the audience has interacted with his work.
I especially enjoyed Nina Mulhall’s “You came out of me”, which was a video of people imitating their mothers. Her work is in Dudspace, finding it is almost a secret challenge – you might be able to see from this photo that you need to squeeze through an opening on the left to see the video work. It’s in a corridor past the kitchen and near the bathroom! Finding it was really exciting, like Heidi finding Edelweiss on top of a mountain, but with less hiking.
Bus Projects, Basement level, Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke Street
Bus Project’s exhibition “TV Dinners” really lives up to its name and tests normal gallery behaviour by transforming the space into an intimate home environment:
“Visitors are encouraged to sit back and relax on couches and even order and eat takeaway food. Within this setting, the artists’ and art collectives’ elaborations on the creative force of nostalgia and its influence on contemporary culture come to the fore.” – Alana Kushnir (2012) in TV Dinners exhibition catalogue, [p. 1].
Even though the gallery space is like a cave under the building, it really does have a home-like atmosphere and I rate the couches. TV Dinners includes work by Eddie Peake, LuckyPDF, PsychoanalYSL and Soda_Jerk. Soda_Jerk’s “The Popular Front” juxtaposes internet memes with an iconic film clip, which was a fitting end to our tour – the questioning of our whimsical popular culture and a nostalgic yearning for the past which looped back to Herring’s tea bag paper works at Handheld Gallery.
Thanks to the wonderful John Stevens for introducing us to some of Melbourne’s lovely artist run spaces! There are heaps of ARIs all over Australia, find out more from Crawl’s great ARI list.