A new cultural institution, the Australian Music Vault, was unveiled on Monday, in a purpose built exhibition space within the Art Centre Melbourne. Described by Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, as “more than just an exhibition space, it’s the beating heart” of Australian contemporary music. Promising a celebration of history, stories, digital and interactive experiences and education.
Open daily and featuring a free permanent exhibition – designed to be organic and evolving, exploring specific rotating themes with content courtesy of the ACM’s extensive Performing Arts Collection (home to 30,000+ contemporary music objects alone) ensures there’s something new to explore and learn with each visit.
Its four founding patrons are all luminaries in the Contemporary Music Industry - co-founder of Mushroom Records Michael Gudinski, music legend Ian “Molly” Meldrum, songstress Kylie Minogue and Indigenous singer-songwriter Archie Roach, who performed at the Media Launch saying, “it’s a great day, an exciting time, there’s nothing better than Australian music.”
The Victorian Government invested $8.3 million into the creation of the Australian Music Vault as a cornerstone of its Music Works policy and commitment to strengthening the state’s music industry and culture.
Artists represented at the time of the launch include: Peter Allen; Chrissy Amphlett; Tina Arena; Bill Armstrong; Courtney Barnett; Daryl Braithwaite; Nick Cave; Johnny Chester; Jen Cloher; Judith Durham; Renee Geyer; Missy Higgins; Rowland S Howard; Dami Im; Col Joye; Marcie Jones; Paul Kelly; Jimmy Little; Little Pattie; Betty McQuade; Ian "Molly" Meldrum; Kylie Minogue; Olivia Newton-John; Ngaiire; Johnny O'Keefe; Helen Reddy; Archie Roach; Margret RoadKnight; Normie Rowe; Wendy Saddington; Billy Thorpe; Urthboy; and Ecca Vandal.
With Australian bands represented including: AC/DC; The Birthday Party; Boys Next Door; Daddy Cool; Divinyls; Equal Local; The Easybeats; Goanna; The Go-Betweens; Hush; Icehouse; INXS; Laughing Clowns; Little River Band; Men At Work; Midnight Oil; Models; The Moodists; News; No Fixed Address; Radio Birdman; Redgum; The Saints; The Scientists; The Seekers; Sherbet; Skyhooks; Spiderbait; Split Enz; The Triffids; Tsk Tsk Tsk; X and Yothu Yindi.
The Australian Music Vault is not approached chronologically or by genre. Rather themes are broad in scope with interlinking content encouraging visitors to create and discover unexpected connections across time periods and styles.
The Real Thing explores whether or not there really is an "Australian voice" by looking at musical influences, lyric composition and the impact of performance venues on the Australian "sound". It celebrates the contribution of hit makers and heroes and highlights the contributions of lesser known but equally influential performers and industry personnel. Items featured in this area include: handwritten and photocopied lyrics for 'To her Door' by Paul Kelly; stage and performer passes for Sunbury Festival; tunic worn by Chrissy Amphlett of the Divinyls in the late 1980s and drumsticks used by Kram from Spiderbait.
Australia's music scene has been both significantly enriched by the contribution of its First Peoples and influenced by many music makers from around the globe who have made Australia their home. Two Way Traffic looks at the careers of the many performers who have helped put Australian music front and centre on the world stage. Featured items include: jacket and trousers worn by Neil Finn of Split Enz; top and skirt worn by Kylie Minogue in the In Your Eyes video; maracas purchased by Peter Allen in Rio de Janeiro in 1977; semi acoustic guitar used by Harry Vanda from The Easybeats and the school boy outfit worn by Angus Young of AC/DC.
Highlighting innovation and improvisation, from handmade instruments and recording equipment to role models and indie label stars, The Wild Ones uncovers the role of the trailblazers whose creative approaches to playing, recording, performing and distributing music have helped shape the Australian music industry. Items showcased in this area include: a performance costume worn by Jimmy Little in the mid 1970s; a hat worn by Ian 'Molly' Meldrum; Go-Set and Weekender magazines and photographs of and notebook belonging to Wendy Saddington.
Agents of Change delves into the role of music in responding to and affecting social change. Australian artists and bands have also been activists, uniters and drivers of progress, giving voice to some of the seminal issues to shape our culture, community and way of life in ways that many other civic and political leaders have been unable to capture. Featured items include: Gold Record Award for Treaty by Yothu Yindi; Grammy Award received by Helen Reddy for I am Woman in 1972; placards from the SLAM Rally; rhyme book belonging to Urthboy and badges, flyers and press release from Stop the Drop concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in 1983.
Also featured is a series of displays highlighting the power of music to bring people together across socio-economic, political, gender and geographical boundaries and the notion of "musical tribes". One of the first to be presented is Punk/New Wave, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of punk. This area looks at identity, belonging and the pivotal period of Australian music between 1977–85, with a focus on performers, venues and do-it-yourself recording, distribution and publishing. Items on display include: guitar and amplifier used by Rowland S Howard; Fanzines Fast Forward, Pulp, Spurt and Oh Deadset and a costume worn by Deniz Tek of Radio Birdman.
The Australian Music Vault also features a special installation showcasing 2017 ARIA Hall of Fame Inductee Daryl Braithwaite and items from his personal collection.
Through the partnership with Spotify, the Australian Music Vault experience can be revisited and celebrated long after visitors leave the space as they are able to collate the music they encounter throughout the course of the exhibition to create a personal Mixtape playlist that they can keep. Artists involved in the exhibition will also curate their own "favourite Australian music" Spotify playlists, which fans can follow through the Australian Music Vault website.
The Australian Music Vault Learning Program invites everyone to deepen their connection with, and contribute to, the Australian music story. A key component of the exhibition, the program consists of a schools program and a public program. The schools program links with students, teachers and school communities, offering online resources, workshops and music participation programs. Schools will be supported with a variety of programs to help students find inspiration and develop creativity, whether they're able to physically visit the Australian Music Vault exhibition or not. The public program supports creatives in their artistic practise, creating an environment through discussion, meetups and workshops where they can share stories, experiences and inspirations.
The Australian Music Vault was created in collaboration with the music industry, with its development supported by an Advisory Group of music industry leaders including: Jane Gazzo, broadcaster, journalist and author; David Anderson, Arts Centre Melbourne; Peter Bain-Hogg, RocKwiz ; Janine Barrand, Arts Centre Melbourne; Dr Lou Bennett, Indigenous language scholar and musician; Shaad D'Souza, The Push; Patrick Donovan, Music Victoria; Adam Jankie, Illusive Entertainment Group; Jan Muller, National Film and Sound Archive; Joel Ma, Multicultural Arts Victoria; Bruce Milne, In-Fidelity Records; Jenny Morris, singer/songwriter and APRA Chair OAM; Chris MacDonald, City of Melbourne; Dobe Newton, musician and lecturer OAM; Fifa Riccobono, music industry consultant; Kirsty Rivers, Creative Victoria; Dan Rosen, ARIA; Melanie Smith, Arts Centre Melbourne Executive Director, Performing Arts and Dan West, producer and instrumentalist.
Top left – Peter Allen. Photo – Bob King Photography
Bottom left – AC/DC. Image reproduced courtesy Tony Mott