Words by Ella Shi

Technopia Tours curator Kim Donaldson and VCA student Caitlin Patane meet me wearing bright orange jumpsuits. The colour, they tell me, is an ode to the urban. Their particular shade—International Orange—represents the colour of the city, and it demands attention and respect. “I see it on the uniforms of construction workers, Metro employees, traffic cones, and street signs,” the enthusiastic Patane tells me. It’s a colour that is diverse in its context, but shares in the role of keeping people safe and steering them in the right direction.

The destination, in this case, is George Paton Gallery. Within this space, Donaldson says her team are literally “art workers making art works.”

Technopia Tours is a collaborative project featuring the work of five VCA students—Raymond Carter, Aya Hamamoto, Dot Kett, En-En See, and Patane—who each signed up without any knowledge of what was in store. “A little bit like a blind date,” Donaldson laughs. Donaldson is curating this exhibition for her PhD and taking on an experimental approach. “I’m working with each artist individually, so the end result is still unknown. In a way, I’m exploring the roles of curator and artist and how they’re different but still similar.”

Though the full scope of the exhibition is only to be realised at the last minute, it promises to include a diverse range of art forms, including performance, sculpture, paintings, prints, and installations. It’s decidedly broad, but Donaldson hopes the exhibition has something to satisfy everyone. “It’s about breaking down boundaries of what is or isn’t art, and bringing the everyday urban landscape into a gallery setting,” Donaldson says. “Like saying language is only English, art is a visual language and has many forms,” Patane adds.

As the name suggests, the exhibition runs like a tour and parallels the experience of a tourist faced with the unknown. “Art galleries can often seem intimidating,” Patane explains. “The aim of Technopia Tours is to create a welcome art experience for people that might not feel welcome in other art spaces.” This is perhaps particularly relevant to Parkville student unacquainted with the art world. Like a good tour guide, the exhibition doesn’t wave flags at people or tell visitors how to find the good stuff. Instead it nudges patrons in the right direction so that they may discover the art for themselves.

The exhibition has previously travelled throughout Venice, London, and Singapore, and most recently transformed Melbourne’s own Edinburgh Gardens.

Technopia Tours runs from the 8 – 17 April at the George Paton Gallery, Second floor Union House.