Cover image of the review
Niagara Galleries Spring 1883 installation view. Courtesy of the artists. Photo Anu Kumar.


8 Aug 2021
Niagara Galleries, Charles Nodrum Gallery

Richmond is cool again. Of course, it always was. Now the baby galleries have arrived: Discordia and LON intervene in the relatively staid locale that since the mid-eighties has been home to Charles Nodrum Gallery on Church Street, and lends positive ballast to the faded icon of the Niagara Galleries opposite the Punt Road Oval of the Richmond Tigers. Retaining an inner-suburban charm abutting the ex-industrial estates and footy pubs, being the epicentre of the twenty-first century property-bubble bonanza means the once heroin-chic of Howard Arkley’s aesthetic entryism now look like airbrushed monuments to the White Australia Policy.

Given the satellite improvisation of the otherwise online Spring1883 fair, where galleries hastily installed their offerings at home base rather than in the suites of the Windsor Hotel, the unexpected pleasantness of a pre-lockdown stroll through the streets connecting the two galleries reminded me of how important the suburb was to my vision of modern Australia, if not for the motorways “removing the last trace of dignity from the poor Yarra in this part,” as Robin Boyd put it in the 1960s. It’s not true. Seen today there is something almost charming about an inner-city suburb that hasn’t been completely railed by high-rise apartment complexes and fluorescent cafes. Well, almost.

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