Vale Richard Toop: a force in our musical culture

Vale Richard Toop, who passed away on 19 June 2017. The world renowned musicologist played a pivotal role in encouraging the focus on a Sonic Art Collection as part of the RMIT Art Collection.

RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies, who acknowledged Toop’s influence in the recent Ocean Imaginaries catalogue, said that Toop “opened our eyes, ears and hearts to New Music of the 20th century and beyond.”

“I am feeling bereft. The world is now a lesser place.”

Toop, who retired from the Sydney Conservatorium (University of Sydney) in 2010, spent his entire career in contact with some of Europe’s leading modernist composers, and is remembered by generations of students as an inspiring and generous teacher.

His publications include a book on Ligeti, a book of Stockhausen analyses, numerous analytical articles and book chapters, and several contributions to the Grove Dictionary of Music, including the entries on Ferneyhough and Stockhausen.

In 2011, as part of three exhibitions that explored music and spatial qualities in architecture, Davies invited Toop to give a lecture on the Greek-born composer Iannis Xenakis.

RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies introduces Richard Toop at his 2011 Gallery lecture on Xenakis: Music and Architecture.

Davies said Toop’s lecture on music and architecture furthered the dialogue in this area.

Toop spoke about the relationship between music and architecture in the second half of the 20th century, with particular reference to Xenakis, the seminal modernist composer who was also an architect and, during the 1950s, one of Le Corbusier’s right-hand men.

In his lecture, Toop said, “When Xenakis finally asked in 1954 to have an entire project entrusted to him, Le Corbusier immediately gave him the Convent project of La Tourette. This was a slightly ironic choice, given Xenakis’s implacable atheism, and Le Corbusier enjoyed referring jokingly to ‘Xenakis’s Convent’.

“It was at this time that Xenakis began work on what he was to regard as his first ‘real’ composition, Metastaseis. I should point out here one big difference between compositional and architectural projects. Composers work at different speeds, and if you have a day job, as Xenakis did, then you have much less time for composing. Even so, you would normally expect to dispatch a fairly short orchestral work, however novel, within a year, and indeed that was the case with Metastaseis. A building however, can’t really be regarded as finished until it is built, and that takes years. By the time the La Tourette convent was completed, in 1960, Xenakis had broken with Le Corbusier, and his music had moved in very different directions.”

After splitting with Le Corbusier, Xenakis went on to create many ‘Polytopes’, which combine music, architectural space and lighting in an entirely original manner. Toop included many musical and visual examples in his talk.

The well received lecture drew a large audience and the video remains one of the most popular on the RMIT Gallery YouTube channel.

“RMIT Gallery is a forum for exploring all areas of creative discourse; and architects, designers and musicians benefited greatly from this event,” Davies said.





Kinetic sculpture explores tension between human and machine


Number of the Machine, opening night performance, RMIT Gallery, 2017. Photo by Vicki Jones

Number of the Machine (19 May – 10 June) a compelling new performance-based work by celebrated choreographer Antony Hamilton at RMIT Gallery, explores the complex relationships between humans and technology.

In an age where Artificial Intelligence platforms are making inroads into both white collar and blue collar jobs, and climate issues are impacting on the most vulnerable in our communities as well as the environment, Number of the Machine is open to a range of interpretations and offers a powerful image of where we might be headed.

Audiences are invited to watch as over four continuous hours each day, performers Melanie Lane and Amber McCartney laboriously assemble and disassemble a timber dwelling from one synthetic island to the other.


Number of the Machine, opening night performance, RMIT Gallery, 2017. Photo by Vicki Jones.

Number of the Machine is Antony’s first ever work for gallery spaces. “There is something about the very different spatial and narrative possibilities offered at RMIT Gallery that attracted me to presenting Number of the Machine in this environment,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton was invited by Darrin Verhagen, Director of RMIT’s Audiokinetic Experiments (AkE) Lab, to develop a work following a residency this year.

Verhagen, a senior lecturer in Media and Communication, said that the Audiokientic Experiments (AkE) Lab has facilitated a number of projects over the last three years which have been presented in various exhibitions at RMIT Gallery.

“Many of these projects, such as Object 2 (Experimenta Recharge 2014), Einsturzende Neubauten’s Klangbewegungmaschine (Geniale Diletanten 2015 – pictured below, left), blue|red: VIMS\SIMS (Morbis Artis, 2016 – pictured, below, right) explore the boundaries of what might be classified as fine art – philosophical challenges the gallery has been generous to platform.”

Antony Hamilton’s work takes the question to the next level – not only exploiting the choreography of two 6DOF Motion Simulators, but involving two live dancers in the installation.


Number of the Machine exploits the choreography of two 6DOF Motion Simulators. Opening night performance, RMIT Gallery, 2017. Photo by Vicki Jones.

RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies said that Hamilton’s kinetic work has a powerful resonance that complements the concurrent RMIT Gallery exhibition Ocean Imaginaries, which focuses on some of the contradictions and conflicted feelings raised by how the ocean is imagined in an age of environmental risk.

“We must not forget that climate issues impact on humanity – indeed, the most vulnerable in our communities, as well as the environment. Catastrophic environmental events will affect us all no matter how secure we think we are,” Davies said.


(left to right) Antony Hamilton, Suzanne Davies and Darrin Verhagen, at the opening performance of ‘Number of the Machine’, standing in front of ‘Crossing the Rubicon, 2017’ a large scale photograph of an underwater sculpture by Jason Decaires Taylor that features in RMIT Gallery’s ‘Ocean Imaginaries’ exhibition.

Number of the Machine was created with the support of AkE Lab, City of Melbourne and Creative Victoria.

Kinetic sculpture performance by Antony Hamilton
Performers: Melanie Lane and Amber McCartney
Dates: 18 May – 10 June
Times: Mon-Sat 12.30-4.30 pm/ Thurs 2.30-6.30 pm
Venue: RMIT Gallery, Building 16, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne.
Free – you are welcome to enter and leave at any time during the performance





Vale Peter Corrigan AM – ‘maverick’ architect prepared to take risks


Architectural model, Peter Corrigan: Cities of Hope, RMIT Gallery 2013. Installation image by Mark Ashkanasy

Vale Peter Corrigan AM – RMIT Architecture Professor and RAIA Gold Medal winning architect, well known for designing RMIT’s Building 8 – a campus landmark and city icon.

RMIT Gallery’s Cities of Hope exhibition in 2013 paid tribute to Corrigan’s creative achievements across architecture and set design, and explored his status as a ‘maverick designer’ prepared to take risks.

RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies said her intrigue and respect for Peter Corrigan’s creative output and teaching made the idea of an exhibition immediately compelling both in the achievements of the architectural firm Corrigan and Edmond along with Corrigan’s work in theatre.

“Throughout, it is the voice and vision of Peter Corrigan, nudging, guiding, shaping, challenging, provoking, transforming, enabling and seducing, that we hear and see in all their contrarian passion.”


Installation image, Peter Corrigan: Cities of Hope, RMIT Gallery, 2013. Image by Mark Ashkanasy.

Corrigan, who has passed away on 1 December 2016,  was a professor of architecture at RMIT since 1975. In 2013, the Institute awarded him the Neville Quarry Architectural Education Prize. Read more.

“I first became aware of Peter Corrigan’s energy and influence as a teacher at the time RMIT became publisher of the architectural journal Transition and then through his theatre work having been engaged to photograph a set and costumes,” Ms Davies said.


Peter Corrigan set design, Cities of Hope, RMIT Gallery 2013, photo by Mark Ashkanasy

Peter Corrigan: Cities of Hope traced the creative focus of the remarkable Australian architect, bringing to life many of his designs over four decades including architectural models and drawings by Edmond and Corrigan; set and costume designs for theatre; artworks, records and notations from his personal collection and key works selected from public collections which have enriched his practice.

“Peter Corrigan always made it clear to RMIT Gallery the need to be mindful of historical context. He attended thoughtfully to most if not all our exhibitions.”

Opening night images: new exhibitions at RMIT Gallery


(left to right) Elizabeth Gower and Leslie Cannold at the opening night of Gower’s exhibition ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ at RMIT Gallery.

Two new exhibitions at RMIT Gallery explore the ways women still feel culturally conditioned and socially obligated to seek male approval. Elizabeth Gower’s he loves me, he loves me not and Mithu Sen + Pushpa Rawat’s Quiet Voices were opened on Thursday 10 March by ethicist Dr Leslie Cannold and journalist and author Sushi Das.


(left to right) RMIT Gallery director Suzanne Davies and journalist and author Sushi Das, who opened Mithu Sen + Pushpa Rawat’s exhibition Quiet Voices.

Dr Leslie Cannold said that the mere idea of Gower’s exhibition moved her so much and asked her to question why it is that women ask ‘does he loves me’ rather than ‘do I love myself?”

“Standing among the suspended panels, seeing the words repeated over and over again in the gallery space, I am even more moved by Gower’s work when I see it in the flesh,” Cannold said.


Endless: Elizabeth Gower wrote the phrase ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ 21,319 times, painstakingly transcribed on 20 lengths of semi-transparent drafting film suspended from floor to ceiling in RMIT Gallery.

Sushi Das, The Age opinion editor, said Quiet Voices poetically address issues women in India face with obligation, patriarchy and the inter-generational dynamic. Das, author of the memoir Deranged Marriage said the works by Mithu Sen + Pushpa Rawat strongly address how women are conditioned to seek approval not only from their parents, but everyone, including their husband, bosses, even their children.

“We might not understand the language in these films, but instinctively relate to them and see within them the seed of women’s potential, no matter when that decision to break free from expectation finally comes, and for some, it isn’t until menopause or when they become grandmothers.”


Pushpa Rawat’s film Nirnay (Decision) explores the journey of young, educated women on the outskirts of Delhi who feel powerlessly obligated when it comes to taking any major decision regarding their future.

On Thursday 7 April from 5.30-6.30, RMIT Gallery will be holding a free panel discussion on “seeking Approval: A question of power, gender or culture?”

Speakers Dr Elizabeth Gower (artist, educator), Dr Leslie Cannold (ethicist, researcher, author The Book of Rachael, What, No Baby? The Abortion Myth), Sushi Das (Opinion Editor, The Age, author Deranged Marriage) and Dr Meagan Tyler (RMIT Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow, editor Freedom Fallacy: The limits of liberal feminism) will explore women’s power struggles across different generations and cultures, including sexual violence and intimate partner violence, the need to please, and the ways the arts and the digital sphere provide an arena for women’s voices to be heard.

Free click here – bookings necessary


March exhibitions opening at RMIT Gallery

Please join us Thursday 10 March 6-8 pm to celebrate the opening of three exhibitions by leading Australian artists Richard Bell and Elizabeth Gower, internationally acclaimed artist Mithu Sen and emerging film maker Pushpa Rawat.

Richard Bell | Imagining Victory 

Opening Night: Thursday 10 March | 6-8pm  – All welcome
Exhibition Dates: 11 March – 23 April

Opening Speaker | Professor Paul Gough, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT University Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic and Vice-President, RMIT University

About the exhibition
Curator: Alexie Glass-Kantor | Artist: Richard Bell
Drawing heavily upon the mechanisms of activism, this significant solo exhibition by leading Australian artist Richard Bell is centred on a trilogy of recent video projects that attempts to dig beneath the veneer of cultural integration to expose how racism can be deeply embedded and passed on to future generations.
An Artspace exhibition toured by Museums & Galleries of NSW.

Richard Bell has just been announced as the recipient of a prestigious Australia Council Visual Arts Award.

The 2016 Australia Council awards honour eight distinguished Australian artists who have made an exceptional contribution to the arts over many years.   These prestigious national awards combine long-standing lifetime and outstanding achievement awards in music, literature, community arts and cultural development, visual arts, theatre, dance, and emerging and experimental arts.

Now in its second year, the Australia Council Awards ceremony will be held in Sydney on Thursday, 10 March, so unfortunately Richard Bell will be unable to attend the RMIT Gallery opening of his exhibition.

Richard Bell has held a number of solo exhibitions since 1990 and works across a variety of media, including painting, installation, performance and video. His work explores the complex artistic and political problems of Western, colonial and Indigenous art production. He is represented in major collections in Australia and New Zealand and has had significant solo exhibitions internationally, including at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam this year. His work Embassy will feature in the 20th Biennale of Sydney in March. He received the Telstra National Aboriginal Art Award in 2003. Richard is part of the Proppa Now Collective in Brisbane, which mentors young Indigenous artists.

RMIT Gallery Elizabeth Gower evite

Elizabeth Gower | he loves me, he loves me not  

Elizabeth Gower | he loves me, he loves me not  
Opening Night: Thursday 10 March | 6-8pm   – All welcome
Exhibition Dates: 11 March – 23 April
Opening SpeakerDr Leslie Cannold Ethicist, researcher, author
About the exhibition

Curator: Suzanne Davies | Artist: Elizabeth Gower

Women in all cultures are encouraged to seek validation at an early age, by conforming to prescribed behaviours, sanctioned body image, fashion, career and lifestyle choices. In the handwritten phrase he loves me, he loves me not RMIT Alumnus Elizabeth Gower poses the question 21,319 times symbolically representing a lifetime of re-evaluation and wavering, resilience and resolve.



Mithu Sen and Pushpa Rawat | Quiet Voices

Opening Night: Thursday 10 March | 6-8pm  – All welcome
Exhibition Dates: 11 March – 23 April

Opening Speaker | Ms Sushi Das Opinion Editor, The Age, author

The works by Mithu Sen and Pushpa Rawat poetically address issues women face with obligation,patriarchy and the inter-generational dynamic.

For her multi-media installation I have only one language; it is not mine renowned Delhi-based artist Mithu Sen spent time at a Kerala orphanage to experience firsthand what life was like for these marginalised young girls. Nirnay (Decision) the debut film of director Pushpa Rawat explores Pushpa’s journey and that of her young, educated women friends on the outskirts of Delhi who feel powerlessly obligated when it comes to taking any major decision regarding their future.