Flinders Lane Gallery turns the big 3 0

Flinders Lane Gallery (FLG) celebrates 30 years of exhibiting contemporary and Indigenous artworks and supporting a diverse range of practices by some of Australia’s leading artists. In staying true to its commitment to presenting high-quality, exceptional artworks that demonstrate conceptual rigour, technical expertise and creative sensitivity, as well as nurturing the passions of both new and seasoned art buyers alike – the gallery has become a staple within Melbourne’s vibrant art scene.

To celebrate this milestone, invited represented artists have created artworks, sized at 30 x 30cms or inches, indicative of the artist’s practice and inspired by Melbourne; showcasing the varied yet strong creative talents of the artists of FLG. The exhibition, ‘FLG 30 x 30’, will be on show at the gallery’s new digs in the Nicholas Building on the corner of Flinders Lane and Swanston Street, from 3 to 21 December 2019.

The Nicholas Building viewed from Flinders Lane. Photograph by Mark Strizic, 1962. Courtesy State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.
Featuring Flinders Lane Gallery. Image supplied.

Gallerist Sonia Heitlinger established Flinders Lane Gallery in 1989 at 137 Flinders Lane, where she actively promoted the work of Indigenous communities such as Yuendumu and Utopia. One of the first city galleries to promote Australian Indigenous artists – and with a Director willing to go out and visit communities to establish a relationship in a time before the Internet – Heitlinger presented these artworks to the world stage, exhibiting in art fairs both nationally and internationally.

After working alongside Heitlinger for six years, Claire Harris took over the gallery in 2006. Continuing with the promotion of Indigenous communities but with a strong refocusing on contemporary Australian artists, Harris has established a formidable stable of award-winning Australian contemporary artists that inform its annual exhibition program.

With a deep commitment to supporting the Australian arts industry, the gallery not only presents the work of mid-career and established artists but also nurtures artists who are emergent in their practices. Since 2000, FLG has presented an annual exhibition titled ‘Exploration,’ specifically designed to showcase a curated selection of emerging and unsigned artists. Not only is this often the first exhibition in a commercial context for these artists, but it also offers discerning collectors the opportunity to acquire a work from ‘the next big thing.’ Previous ‘Exploration’ artists have included Heidi Yardley, Sophia Hewson, Ry David Bradley, Zoe Croggan, Valerie Sparks, Michael Staniak, Sanne Mestrom, Camille Hannah, Jo Davenport and James Parrett to name but a few. In total, ‘Exploration’ has highlighted the practices of close to 200 artists.

FLG has developed a reputation for presenting ambitious exhibitions, along with commissioning critical catalogue essays for every exhibition anchoring the work into the broader contemporary art context. FLG Print has now published extensive monographs on four gallery artists: Davenport, Blackwell, Schawel and Quinlivan. FLG has facilitated the development of a number of our artists’ practices into the public realm with major public artworks commissioned by Quinlivan, Horstmans, Schawel, and Blackwell.

Artworks are held in prestigious public collections and private collections, and artists have won major awards including the Sulman Prize, the Calleen Art Award, the EMSLA Art Award, and the Rick Amor Drawing Prize. They have been finalists in awards such as the Archibald, the Sulman, the BP Portrait Prize, Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize, The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, the Alice Prize, ‘the churchie’ national art prize, the John Fries Memorial Prize, and the Tattersalls Club Landscape Art Prize among others.

In 2019, in its 30th year, FLG left its flagship gallery and relocated to the iconic vertical creative precinct of the Nicholas Building, on the corner of Flinders Lane and Swanston Street. Working closely with an architecture firm to build a bespoke and flexible contemporary exhibition space and a generous stockroom, Harris and her curatorial team launched FLG’s new home in April 2019.