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Expression of Interest - A Boy's Own Story @The Johnston Collection

  • The Johnston Collection PO BOX 79 East Melbourne, VIC 3002 Australia (map)
Trevor Smith, Minerva as bread Crock, 2010, pure wool, synthetic yarns and wool/synthetic mix | basic crochet stitches. Image courtesy the artists

Trevor Smith, Minerva as bread Crock, 2010, pure wool, synthetic yarns and wool/synthetic mix | basic crochet stitches. Image courtesy the artists

The Johnston Collection invites artists and craftspeople, from in and around Melbourne and Victoria, to create and contribute to our annual Christmas / Summer exhibition. We are seeking expressions of interest to be considered for the exhibition with the working title A BOY’S OWN STORY scheduled to be held from Tuesday 1 October 2019 to Tuesday 4 February 2020.

By tradition, our annual exhibition is based on our benefactor, William Johnston’s own craft-related skills, in which he was encouraged to make things at an early age. Johnston, the son of a bootmaker. was a competent knitter, and was taught basic sewing and tailoring skills, as well as upholstery, all of which led him into an early career in soft furnishings.

For our 2019 exhibition we will mix-it-up again, do a mind shift and invite male artists and creatives to make works for A BOY’S OWN STORY.

The intention of A BOY’S OWN STORY is constructed on a too often repeated assumption, both internally and externally, ’that men did not and do not have any manual skills in knitting and sewing.’ In fact, many men had these skills which have been traditionally and customarily acceptable throughout time. Likewise, we are also seeking out ‘female’ artists who are working in traditionally demarcated crafts and trades.

We will maintain our collaborations with makers, inviting, supporting and encouraging them to create new works based on old objects. We encourage challenges to traditional making, thinking and practice through contemporary responses to the Collection, along with more traditional responses that reflect historical techniques, materials and making.

Inspired by the Collection, a gift from William Johnston to the people of Victoria, our annual Christmas / Summer exhibition responds to traditional ways of making through contemporary makers’ thinking and practices.

In order to explore new contemporary practices and ideas, we envisage that this project will provide creative opportunities for new works to be showcased in a remarkable public venue.

The Johnston Collection supports practices that reflect innovative work, demonstrate new ideas, techniques and refined craftsmanship, and extends critical debate within craft. This exhibition offers an inspired interpretation of the Collection aiming to generate new, more diverse audience and responses.

Applications for A BOY’S OWN STORY are welcome from emerging, mid-career and established Melbourne-based artists and makers. Applicants can respond to the themes outlined above, or simply provide a short outline of current concepts and practices for initial consideration.

We hope you will be encouraged by this invitation and idea, and hope that we can talk to you further about it.

You can view Fairhall and our programs on

For further information about the exhibition project please contact

Louis Le Vaillant, Director | Curator

03 9416 2515 |