2016 HOUSE OF DREAMS | with Barking Spider Visual Theatre

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Thursday 12 July – Tuesday 20 September 2016

The Johnston Collection is delighted to announce its latest collaboration with ground-breaking independent Melbourne arts company, Barking Spider Visual Theatre with the new exhibition-house tour the HOUSE OF DREAMS opening in Fairhall on Tuesday 12 July and running until 20 September 2016.

HOUSE OF DREAMS is a hauntingly beautiful new tour inspired by Carl Jung’s dream theories, using the metaphors and symbols of dreams to convey stories exploring the history of William Johnston and his residence, Fairhall.

In the HOUSE OF DREAMS, Director of Barking Spider Visual Theatre, Penelope Bartlau, will work with a team of artists to transform Fairhall into a series of rooms installed as dreamscapes. Cross-platform arts forming part of the installation include found and historic object assemblages, sound and lighting design, visual art and creative writing. These will evoke the experiences, moods and sensations of dreams and the dreamer.

Visitors to the HOUSE OF DREAMS will experience powerful and evocative dreamscapes – some enchanting and mysterious, while others will be uncanny or disturbing.

HOUSE OF DREAMS will present selected items from the Collection along with works made especially for the exhibition by the Barking Spider Visual Theatre team of artists. In this exhibition-house tour, Fairhall will come alive with a fusion of elements of theatre combined with visual arts and sound design which will be incorporated throughout the exhibition-house space.

Bartlau says, “ My dreams are always so vivid – with every sense engaged – and very often include houses. I had read about the significance of the house in Jung’s dream theories. This seemed a natural fit. What better way to explore the unconscious, the uncanny, the strangeness of “the night mind”, than through the lens of a glorious collection of historic objects in an elegant old Melbourne house.”

Barking Spider Visual Theatre is an innovative visual and performance arts company creating projects that intersect multiple art forms. The company enjoys working with a variety of cultural institutions including a number of leading Australian museums, enabling it to engage with a broad audience. Museums they have previously worked with include Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, the Immigration Museum, Melbourne, the
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart and the National Museum of Australia, Canberra.

Bartlau says, “Museums are storehouses of stories. So of course working in the museum sector is like being let loose in a lolly shop of stories. TJC presents dense layers of stories – some that can be told, some that can be invented and some that must remain obscured. It is intriguing indeed to create in shadow of the forbidden. I hope that audiences to the House of Dreams will come away from the experience enriched, enlivened and curious.”

It was Melbourne-born antique dealer and benefactor William Johnston’s wish that his East Melbourne home, Fairhall, be regularly rearranged. Past rearrangements have included those by fashion designer, Akira Isogawa, architect, Pascale Gomes-McNabb, fashion-house, Romance Was Born, artist Rosslynd Piggott, Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister, milliner and artist Richard Nylon, and most recently, design studio Hecker Guthrie.

HOUSE OF DREAMS is a continuation of the annual House of Ideas series at The Johnston Collection where guest curators from the contemporary arts communities are invited to use Fairhall exhibition-house as an installation site to recreate and reinterpret the Collection.

This series of rearrangements provides an opportunity to re-imagine William Johnston’s extraordinary collection in new ways. The Johnston Collection is thrilled to have the exceptionally talented Barking Spider Visual Theatre team continue this exciting series.
Penelope Bartlau says, “ This is an incredible invitation to create. TJC is quite unique in the opportunity it presents to artists. Unlike larger museums, artists have the time and space to mine a single collection, and an entire house in which to research, explore and present. For Barking Spider, it is a rare and invaluable opportunity also, to have our work installed for a long period as the company so often creates ephemeral work.”

For further information, images or interviews, please contact:
T: 03 9416 2515 E:


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