Until 2020, you’d encounter forty artists a day working away in the sun-filled Arts Project Australia studio, immersed in creating bold artworks spanning painting, textiles and drawing right through to photography, digital art and artist zines. When you set foot in the studio, you’d experience the incredible collegiality, energy and warmth of the artists as they interacted with their peers, staff and visitors and share their work, ideas, and creative narratives. The gallery would present 14 solo and group exhibitions, feature 800+ artworks by 190+ studio and invited artists, and welcome 3,000+ artists, families, students, collectors, curators, volunteers and board members to celebrate at our openings. 

In 2020, we presented two exhibitions in the gallery—Will Murray Solo and Pleased to Meet You—then, on the 16th of March, we all went home. Artists and staff retreated to domestic offices and studios and began working toward isolated COVID-safe work environments. As artist and publisher Trent Walter so eloquently put it, “This year has been trying on many levels. Not being able to work alongside your friends and your colleagues is contrary to the essence of inclusion that I’ve experienced at Arts Project Australia. If this year has proven anything, it’s that in a crisis we turn to the arts to nurture us — whether it be through drawing, comics, music or filmmaking. The creative work that they make, the artists from Arts Project Australia, nurture us.” 

As we approach the end of 2020, Arts Project Australia artists, staff and board have not rolled over, stopped working, making or given up in the face of tough times. As Claire Hooper put it, “In such a tough year, 150 APA artists were working from home. Yeah, that’s right, working — not falling in a heap covered in crumbs. I mean, it’s just showing off!” 

And it’s the truth. Arts Project Australia artists, staff and board have risen to the challenge. Art packs were delivered to artists as they set up home studios, artists and staff met daily on Zoom and many new artworks were created that reflect this historic time we are living and creating through. 

The Arts Project Australia Virtual Gala is a celebration of the artists and their incredible work in 2020, as a continuation of the work they do every year, come hail or shine. It is also a celebration, albeit a virtual one, of our vibrant and creative community—our family—of artists, supporters and friends. Enjoy the 201 artworks and the experience of our Virtual Gala and, remember, 100% of every winning bid goes directly into the hands of Melbourne-based artists. 

Visit auction and bid at Leonard Joel or enter the two virtual gallery spaces below to browse Virtual Gala works. For information on how to bid, please visit Leonard Joel’s How To Buy guide.

Join the Arts Project Australia Virtual Gala on Facebook and Youtube live stream on 3 pm Saturday 28 November.  The Virtual Gala will feature special moments with APA artists, words from Arts Project director Sue Roff and curator Sim Luttin, and entertainment from an exclusive line-up:

● Paul Kelly – rock music singer-songwriter & guitarist
● Moira Finucane – actor & burlesque performer
● Claire Hooper – comedian, television & radio presenter & writer
● Trent Walter – artist & publisher
● Mama Alto – jazz singer, cabaret artiste & gender transcendent diva
● Maude Davey- actor, writer & director
● Paul Cordeiro – artist, dancer & choreographer
● Piera Dennerstein – classically trained soprano
● Jazida – burlesque performer
● Rachel Lewindon – composer, pianist, sound designer & musical director

Prices quoted as reserves and don’t include framing and shipping fees. Artworks are unframed and can either be mailed or stored safely. 100% of sales go to the artists.