Abbotsford Convent partners with other arts and cultural organisations, festivals and events to develop artistic practice, diversify our public programs, attract diverse audiences and create new conversations and thought-provoking experiences for everyone to enjoy at the Convent.
Image: Mathew Lynn
In 2020 we were delighted to partner with AsiaTOPA on an electrifying program celebrating the creative imagination of artists and cultures in the Asia-Pacific region from January – March. The Convent hosted four programs as part of the festival to present collaborations and intercultural works spanning music, dance, theatre, contemporary performance, film, digital, visual art, public talks with a thrumming dive bar at the centre of it all.
We are proud to co-present with Midsumma Festival, Victoria’s premier queer arts and cultural festival, for and by LGBTQIA+ communities. The Convent prides itself on being a safe, inclusive, vibrant and welcoming community hub that supports diverse voices, practices and forms of expression.
ButohOUT! is an annual festival celebrating creative communities and the profound performance art of Butoh. Originally called Dance of Darkness, Butoh was conceived in the late 1950s during the social turmoil of post-war Japan. It goes beyond the confines of specific culture, gender, status and religion, aspiring to a universal expression that describes the true nature of humanity.
Abbotsford Convent is proud to be a long-standing partner of this big, bold (and gloriously messy) celebration of independent art. We support Fringe’s mission for cultural democracy by hosting works across all art forms in our non-traditional spaces. For nearly a decade, the Convent has been a perfectly unconventional stage for Melbourne Fringe’s annual experimental design showcase, Fringe Furniture. Established as an experimental playground, Fringe Furniture is a standout exhibition of emerging and market-ready design and has provided a platform for artists and designers to exhibit their work for 33 years, making it one of the longest design events in Australia.
In 2019, we were delighted to be an Associate Partner of Dance Massive, Australia’s largest and only continuing contemporary dance festival. Since 2009, Dance Massive has welcomed audiences of over 40,000 to 71 contemporary Australian dance works. In 2019, the Convent hosted two major dance works presented in partnership Dancehouse: Dark Night by Jill Orr; and Quake by Hellen Sky and Myrian Gourfink with Marc Cauvin and Kasper T. Toeplitz. The works took place in the South Magdalen Laundry—a place of incredible architecture and history of contrasting female experiences; from struggle to leadership. Through ambitious programs like this, the Laundry can be an accessible canvas for artists, creatives and community—a space for artists, audiences and communities to experience new practices, narratives and histories, while respecting the heritage and social history of the Laundry.
The Convent also partnered with Ausdance Victoria to present a series of special showings at the Convent as part of the Dance Massive Open Studios program. The showings featured a selection of artists whose work was site-specific, site-responsive or sits outside traditional performance venues. The showings may inspire and provide insight into the making process, the ways that place inspires structure and choreographic adaptability. Participating artists included: Michael Smith, Ryiochi Fujimura, Prue Lang, Yumi Umiumare, Leah Landau.
We would also like to acknowledge Luke George’s A Call to Actions presented at Arts House for Dance Massive 2019. Luke George was the inaugural Abbotsford Convent Studio Residency Program recipient in 2018 and developed, rehearsed and invited members of the public to join his ‘Public Actions’ at the Convent.
In 2018, the Convent partnered with Wurundjeri Land Council on the project Ngulu-nganjin, a two-part project celebrating contemporary Wurundjeri culture through storytelling, song, ceremony and language revival.
Wurundjeri Elders, musicians and artists created an Indigenous Sound Trail to capture the story of the Convent’s Traditional Owner history and heritage. Ngulu-nganjin (Our Voice) features original soundscapes by Wurundjeri artist Mandy Nicholson, acclaimed Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung musician Dr. Lou Bennett AM, and Wurundjeri community. You can discover the self-guided walking tour here.
Ngulu-nganjin then launched the Convent’s Open Spaces festival in 2018. The beautiful grounds of the Convent leapt to life with music, sound, food and energy as the event celebrated the Indigenous heritage of the land, and brought a voice to spiritualism and stories held in the past, present and future.
Ngulu-nganjin was led by Wurundjeri Artistic Director Mandy Nicholson and Musical Director and Language Activist Dr. Lou Bennett (Yorta Yorta Djaara), with support from Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Diane Kerr. Ngulu-nganjin was developed by Wurundjeri Council in partnership with Abbotsford Convent. This project was supported by the Victorian Government’s Rockin’ The Laneways program.
The Convent is proud to be a Festival Partner with Next Wave Festival, Australia’s leading platform for a new generation of artists taking creative risks. Next Wave’s learning programs and biennial festival reflects a commitment to social and cultural diversity, environmental sustainability and inclusion—values that we share. We look forward to hosting more events, works and exhibitions showcasing new generation talent with Next Wave into the future.