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Maritime Porthole Gallery closes

03 Sep 2015

Maritime Porthole Gallery closes Image

Local artists and art lovers were disappointed last month when the Mission to Seafarers Maritime Porthole Gallery closed.

The gallery opened at Harbour Town two years ago, however the Mission was last month advised its lease would not be renewed.

While the decision had disappointed some, it also signals renewed commercial interest at Harbour Town.

The Mission had leased the space through a charitable agreement with former Harbour Town owners ING, however it was not renewed under new owners Ashe Morgan.

Similar artistic and innovative initiates developed under the Docklands Spaces scheme have also closed at Harbour Town.

Under the previous management, empty spaces were opened to a number of Docklands Spaces participants on short-term, low-cost, rolling leases.

Maritime Porthole Gallery artist-in-residence Robert Lee Davis said the news of the closure was disappointing for the artists and writers who had used the Maritime Porthole Gallery.

Mr Davis had both worked and exhibited in the space, while writer-in-residence Lyn Beattie had been working on her second novel in the gallery.

A further two artists had been lined up to exhibit in the coming months, as Mr Davis is due to begin an artist’s residency in London.

While disappointed by the decision, Mr Davis said the opportunity and experience had been a positive one.

“For me personally as an artist, to have a space where I can show the artwork, where I can work and where I can engage with the public, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience,” Mr Davis said.

“It hits all the buttons for me in terms of how art should be public, where people can walk in at anytime and talk to you about your work.”

Mission to Seafarers CEO Andrea Fleming said the artist-in-residency program and workshops had created a rich community experience.

“The Mission to Seafarers is thankful to Harbour Town, the artists and everyone who had supported the gallery since 2013,” Ms Fleming said.

“The new hotel being built across the road from the tranquil environment of the gallery is a sign of progress and we look forward to seeing Docklands flourish and future opportunities for the Mission to engage with our community.”

“The activities established at the gallery will transfer over to 717 Flinders St so keep an eye on the Mission to Seafarers Victoria Facebook page for more updates,” she said.

While there has been disappointment over the closure of the Maritime Porthole Gallery, the move potentially signals increased commercial interest in the Harbour Town tenancies.

Harbour Town Melbourne general manager Stephen Beaumount said: “Works to transform and reposition Harbour Town as one of Melbourne’s premier retail and leisure destinations have now started.”

“The licence agreement with Mission to Seafarers’ Maritime Porthole Gallery was not renewed as part of the centre’s long-term strategy.”

“As the redevelopment is completed, it will provide for a dramatically improved retail offer for the growing Docklands community.”

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