Our Program

Beyond functioning as a lending library, Melbourne Art Library develops and presents events, installations and creative programs. These programs aim to further the appreciation and discussion of art and design in Naarm/Melbourne; provide opportunities for artist development; and promote critical thinking and engagement with libraries and information sharing.We believe that libraries are places for the exchange of skills and experience, as well as books and physical forms of information.Most of our programs are borne through collaboration with like-minded organisations. Get in touch if you have an idea you'd like to co-develop.A calendar of upcoming events and an archive of past events will soon be added to the website.

Creative Residencies 

With thanks to the Besen Family Foundation, MAL began a Creative Residencies program in 2022.How do artists interact with an art library? What does creative and critical intervention into the library space actually look like? How does a young, public organisation realise de-colonised institutional practice and totally open dialogue?

Over the year, MAL will host four artists, researchers, curators, and cultural leaders at the library. Melbourne Art Library’s inaugural Creative Residency program engages diverse perspectives to prod, unravel, and provoke the foundational underpinnings and offerings of MAL’s collection. Each resident will share their findings and musings with the MAL community, with the residency culminating in a public sharing event.

As an organisation, we hope to learn from the experiences of the artists we engage with; and welcome critique, intervention, and suggestions for reassembly or altered practice. We want to ensure that artists play a key role in the development of the art library, and are keen to explore the role of libraries as a key resource (tangibly and intangibly) for creative practice.

Jahkarli Romanis

MAL's inaugural Creative Resident, February-March 2022, was Jahkarli Romanis.

Jahkarli Romanis is a proud Pitta Pitta woman and Naarm-based artist and researcher. 

Jahkarli is currently undertaking a PhD at Monash University through the Wominjeka Djeembana Research Lab. She has most recently co-curated “Still Here, Now” at Platform Arts Geelong; a First Nations show which seeks to assert survival and sovereignty. In the coming months Jahkarli is part of two group exhibitions in Naarm, showing new work centred around her PhD research.

Jahkarli’s work is inextricably intertwined with her identity as a Pitta Pitta woman and explores the complexities of her lived experience and the continuing negative impacts of colonisation in Australia. Her practice aims to subvert and disrupt colonial ways of thinking and image making. She utilises her research and art as tools for investigating biases encoded within imaging technologies and photo-media. Jahkarli’s PhD examines how contemporary mapping technologies, such as Google Earth, represent place and continue colonial narratives of ‘terra nullius’ through the omission of Indigenous Knowledges.

Daniel Jenatsch

Daniel Jenatsch is an artist and composer who makes interdisciplinary works that explore the interstices between affect and information. His work combines hyper-detailed soundscapes, music and video to create multimedia documentaries, installations, radio pieces and performances. His work looks at the social construction of subjectivity, with a concern for the ways in which forms of knowledge and power construct and inform our social and mental ecologies. His works have been presented in exhibitions and programs at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Arts House, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, the Athens Biennale, NextWave Festival, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Liquid Architecture Festival, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and the MousonTurm, Frankfurt.
Who's Afraid of Public Space - Reading Space: The Common Room

Image: Installation views, Who’s Afraid of Public Space?, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2021. Photography Andrew Curtis. Commissioned by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.

Listen: Distributuion Forum Series

From December 2021-March 2022 MAL collaborated with the designers Nicola Cortese, Lauren Crockett and Stephanie Pahnis on their commission Reading Space: The Common Room for the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art's (ACCA) summer exhibitionWho's Afraid of Public Space. Read more about the exhibition here.For this collaboration, MAL contributed resources to the library space and ran a series of three workshops and three forums.

What power dynamics are at play in the distribution of information? How democratic is collective knowledge? And how are individuals and collectives disrupting the flow of information?

The Distribution forum series prods, unravels, makes-visible, and excites non-mainstream ways of information sharing. Engaging publishers, editors, and alternative institutions, the series explores active projects in Naarm/Melbourne that question the traditional flow of information.

Listen: #1 Introduction to Art Librarianship. Nell Fraser (MAL) and Romany Manuell (Monash University) unpack the role of the contemporary art librarian.

Listen: #2 Alternative Collections. Caroline Phillips (Womens Art Register), Nick Henderson (Australian Queer Archives), and Nell Fraser (MAL) discuss the role and importance of independent archive collections.

Listen: #3 Publishing Art Serials.
Spiros Panigirakis (Un Projects), Jack Murray (Caliper Journal), and Andrew Copolov (MAL) discuss the power of editing and publishing art and design journals.

Craft Contemporary - Crafted Conversations

As part of the 2021 Craft Contemporary festival, MAL presented Crafted Conversations.

The month-long festival presented by Craft Victoria explored how contemporary ideas are being expressed by today’s makers with skill and creative innovation, whether using new technologies or centuries old techniques. To celebrate and showcase the handmade, MAL presented virtual tours and talks with craftspeople over Instagram live.

Watch: Crafted Conversations

Watch: Studio Tour with artist Jenna Lee. Explore the meticulous techniques behind Jenna’s papercraft and multimedia art, and learn about the raw materials that make up her work: books!

Watch: Luciano shares upcoming projects
, including Spinning Yarn, an interactive performance work, and how the past two years have transformed his practice.

Watch: Reading and library tour with Dr Kevin Murray.
Kevin reads from the Garland Magazine compendium series – Copihue, Chrysanthemum, Frangipani, Marigold, and Jasmine – and shares some meaningful texts held within his personal library collection.

Watch: Bedtime story with Hannah Gartside.
Hannah shares some of her favourite stories ranging from magical realism to her own academic writing. Each tale considers the role of memory and agency in cloth.

12pm-5pm, Thursday-Sunday

Melbourne Art Library, Naarm
Testing Grounds Emporium,
438 Queen St,
Naarm / Melbourne VIC 3000
We acknowledge the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we operate, and respect their enduring connection to country. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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