Exhibition Buildings and the winter sun

The last couple of Saturdays were dry and crisp, making it easy to be outside in a sunny spot by the beautiful Exhibition Buildings for an hour or more to do some sketching.

I found this view from the south side with the gardens in the foreground and then developed the painting from photos. (As Andy Goldsworthy pointed out – once you start to struggle, you get cold so I worked fairly fast.)

Exhibition Buildings Melbourne

Exhibition Buildings Melbourne

I liked this perspective of the monumental building rather modestly shielded by trees. Once upon a time I drew and painted lots of buildings, but I need to get back into the swing of it and this one is crackingly complicated – so I might have another go one day – it’s got me in.


The Royal Exhibition Building and gardens are World Heritage listed and are a superb oasis and the crown of Melbourne. The Carlton side north of the Exhibition Building was completely stripped out to house the newer Melbourne Museum and the ‘boulevard’ between the two buildings is sadly unresolved in landscape architect terms (unless minimalism and unruly expanses of gravel were an intended design statement.)

Designed by Joseph Reed and built in 1880 to host the World Fair (or International Exposition if you are a bit posh) – the Exhibition Buildings still stands and continues to fulfil its original function, as do Joseph Reed’s other great contributions to Melbourne – the State Library, which he designed as a young skip of 30 fresh off the boat from Cornwall – and the Melbourne Town Hall.

However Reed is somewhat pipped in the excessively youthful Melbourne architect stakes by Liverpool born J J Clark who designed Melbourne’s elaborate renaissance revival Treasury Buildings at the age of just 19. Clark came to Melbourne to seek his fortune in the Goldfields but ended up as a draughtsman’s apprentice at the age of 14. 

You can’t help wondering what all these young people are doing wasting their time at University studying architecture when 150 years ago the Victorians seemed to just get on with it and build stuff.


10 thoughts on “Exhibition Buildings and the winter sun

  1. Beautiful painting. Do you like Lucian Freud’s work? Yours has that sort of energy.

    Enjoyed the architectural notes too; architecture used to be wide open as you suggest and in America at least attracted lots of people with no formal “training” who built the most marvelous things! This was a theme of one of my favorite blogs, Clio’s Calendar, which I sorely miss.

    Thanks again for sharing your work and photographs.


    • Hi Celia – so nice of you to come by and sorry for not replying sooner. Most rude. I might have been a bit overwhelmed by being linked to Lucian Freud (who is a hollowed demi-God … ) I’d love to think I might travel fearlessly in that direction and will one day be standing in a shed encrusted with spent paint. Whether the art will be any good is another thing!


      • art gets easier when we leave others to judge. . . being very critical myself, i’m amazed how much happier i am in my creative life when i leave that aside.


      • Yes, it’s definitely good to just keep going. The blog’s good for that – it’s my prompt which just says – ‘get it posted and get on to the next thing’ – without spending too long agonising and getting disengaged.


  2. Is there no end to your talents dear Chas?! These are fabulous, I’m really impressed. You’ve inspired me to get painting again so I’ve been out today to buy some fruit and veg and shall attempt to paint them tomorrow.


    • Hello m’dear – I may have stretched a bit far doing this one (don’t let Pete see – it’s what my daughter rather disparagingly calls ‘old lady art’ – but I fear it’s a phase we must go through to come out the other side!) And what’s all this galavanting about you’ve been doing?! So amazing the pair of you whipping about the planet. Buy some lovely juicy fruit for me.


    • Thanks Mae – I feel quite rusty trying to draw sometimes – my brain says I should be able to but then the hands don’t quite agree. I think it’s mainly a matter of taking things in sections and tackling them a bit at a time. (My mum used to call this the ‘Swiss Cheese’ approach.) It’s quite hard to keep patient long enough to do this!


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