More than MONA: Art & Design in Hobart
If you’re planning a trip to Hobart you’re likely planning on making a stop in at MONA. While it’s definitely a must-see when you’re in town, don’t miss out on the other amazing art and design stores, galleries and museums all within this one beautiful harbour city. Like many Aussie Expedia travellers, we nipped over the Bass Straight for a just few days but that was plenty of time to hunt down a whole host of great places to visit for the design enthusiast. Here are some of our favourite stores and galleries to make the most of your next trip!
You really can’t come to Hobart and skip MONA – it would be like not visiting the Empire State Building at least once when you’re in New York. Since the opening of the Museum of Old and New Art in 2011, the museum has cemented itself as an important cultural destination. As Australia’s largest private museum, it’s probably one of the only places you can see Egyptian sarcophagi next to a Brett Whitely, with a machine manufacturing excrement just around the corner. We made MONA our first point of call so we could maximise our time there, taking time to appreciate all of the sights and, erm, smells of the artworks. You can catch the dedicated MONA ferry from the Brooke Street Pier (the Posh Pit at the front of the ferry serves sparkling and canapes!), or you can drive there too – but be warned there’s stiff competition in the car parks. Guarantee a spot by splashing out on a night in the MONA Pavilions. The staircase that descends into the darkness of MONA is your first hint at what sort of experience to anticipate. With so many different artists and types of art represented, it can take quite some time to get through, and the ‘O’ iPhone you’re handed on arrival to learn about the artworks means that you’ll spend more time engaged with the pieces rather than the cursory glance at the wall plaque you’d find in many traditional museums. The Sidney Nolan ’Snake’ mural was our favourite piece, a giant rainbow serpent of colour in Nolan’s signature style, made from more than 1,600 paintings.
A jam-packed space with a strong focus on handmade Tasmanian goods and natural products makes Merchant a hard store to walk away from empty handed. Organic soaps shaped like birds eggs (that you can buy in a sweet half dozen carton too!), knitted woollens, and handmade chocolates, are piled high on every surface. This is a great place to find a gift for that friend who has everything, but appreciates a local touch
On the same street as Merchant is the very cute and a little bit cheeky Red Parka. With their own designs featured on tote bags, tea towels and gift cards, Red Parka also stocks a variety of commissioned artists featured across the wares. Colourful and funny, it’s perfect for picking up a couple of cards to stash away for upcoming birthdays and celebrations.
Salamanca Arts Centre
Just away from the docks and fishing boats is the Salamanca Place precinct. The Salamanca Markets are held every Saturday here, popular with tourists and locals alike for food and fresh produce, craft and design. Nearby, the Salamanca Arts Centre is home to more than 20 different artists; painters, sculptors, jewellers, graphic designers and a whole lot more. Busily working away over multiple floors, it’s a hub for Hobart talent. We stopped in for a visit with Rosie Malham and Ruth Valentine, from design studio Flock of Two for a behind the scenes peek at some of their work and to hear more about the other artists in the centre. Under the Flock of Two label Malham and Valentine create a range of jewellery and accessories handmade by the two of them – leather tassels, acrylic jewellery, and leather purses. They also collaborate with other Tasmanian creatives under the label Tinfoil Collective, a platform to showcase small brands and makers, and to expand their design skill sets by working with creatives from different design fields.
Also in the studios is talented jeweller Emily Snadden, who’s work is often inspired by Tasmanian flora and landscapes. Using specimens she collects and wax casts, her work can be found in several galleries and stores nearby.
Below the artist studios are a variety of galleries and small stores, many of which stock the work of the designers working above them.
You can stop into Maker Gallery for beautiful contemporary jewellery, womens fashion, and clothing for the little people in your life too.
At the rear of the centre is Spacebar Gallery, a treasure trove of accessories, jewellery, homeware, art and more. Local designer Lisa Link opened up the gallery in 2010, after seeing a lack of support for the local Tasmanian talent. Inside you can find prints from Sam Lyne, the tassels and purses from Flock of Two, jewellery from Little Shop Wishing, and work from ex-Tasmanian locals Cat Rabbit and Beth Emily.
Just outside and on the front of the Salamanca Arts Centre is Handmark Gallery, which hosts a combination art and jewellery exhibitions. Find special one off pieces, alongside more affordable creations by Tasmanian jewellers, and see artwork from rotating artists on the walls.
If you’re looking for some of the more established homewares brands, Luc. is a good stop-in. Tom Dixon, Dinosaur Designs, Vitra, Hay and Gubi, are all carefully curated and well displayed. This is a beautiful store that wouldn’t feel out of place in big European city.
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
Tasmania’s state museum showcases a huge variety of treasures; scientific, artistic, and even Antarctic. The permanent exhibitions cover a great deal of local and Australian history, as well as natural history for Tasmanian wildlife – which is perfect to get your Thylacine fix! Major exhibitions rotate throughout the year, often to coincide with other major events (such as Dark Mofo). With admission by donation, it’s an excellent spot to learn more about Tasmania, early settlement and the local culture.
A bonus tip for architecture enthusiasts when you’re in town; the fountain at the Railway Roundabout is a fun piece to check out, a space-age design that Googie architecture lovers will appreciate.
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