NGV Art Book Fair 2015: Highlights

From glossy publications to lo-fi zines and artwork galore, our favorite finds at the inaugural event

by Sinead Stubbins

Melbourne, Australia is a city bursting at the seams with independent publishers, arts organizations and zine-makers, so it was only a matter of time that it hosted its own Art Book Fair. Orchestrated by the National Gallery of Victoria, the fair celebrates all realms of art, architecture and design with a diverse program that represented local and international participants alike. Publishers, writers, artists, designers and locals congregated under the stained-glass ceiling of the gallery’s Great Hall and talked about books for two days straight. It was a spectacularly nerdy, charming affair. Here are our picks from the inaugural event.


Head Full of Snakes

This is the kind of magazine that is so beautiful that you want to buy it before even finding out what its contents are. Started by Stuart Geddes and Luke Wood, “Head Full of Snakes” is primarily a motorcycle magazine, intertwined with photography, art and music. Apart from the unique stories, one of the reasons it has developed such a cult following (and sells out almost immediately) is the bold three-color design executed with Stuart’s own Risograph. Issue 3 of “Head Full of Snakes” is available online.

He’s Got A Nug

Melbourne-based creatives Heavytime Books (a joint project between The Heavy Mental and Smalltime Books) have collaborated with artist Benjamin Lichtenstein to make “He’s Got A Nug” (nug being biker slang for gun), a lo-fi zine that combines photography with hilarious, perplexing newspaper headline-style statements. The limited edition publication is a reminder that you don’t need a whole lot of flash to make something great. (For example: “You say tomato, the court says life for largest drug bust.”) The more you read, the more you wonder if these excerpts are actually taken from real news stories, but not knowing is half the fun. “He’s Got a Nug” will be available online soon.


Bus Projects

A Melbourne-run organization that collaborates with artists to produce exhibitions, events and publications, Bus Projects produces all things creative. Their original artworks showcase the work of creatives from a multitude of disciplines, ranging from one-off prints by local artists, T-shirts, cassettes and zines. While that may sound daunting to those who don’t feel so comfortable in the indie art scene, Bus Projects approaches its endeavors with a lack of pretentiousness and a genuine accessibility that makes them the perfect curators of local creativity. Various prints are available at the Bus Projects website.

Who Goes There

Ronnie Van Hout is a New Zealand-born artist who has exhibited in Germany, Japan and throughout Australia. In 2009, he created an installation called “Who Goes There”—a trippy exhibition involving life-sized robots, dolls and peepholes into linked rooms. The artist also released a puzzle book that includes mazes, connect-the-dots, coloring-in pages and quizzes. Contact Ilam Press with stock enquiries.


Filmme Fatales

Taking on the spirit of “Sassy,” the credibility of “Little White Lies” and the “me too!” relatability of “Rookie,” indie zine “Filmme Fatales” creates an encyclopedia of film, celebrity and original art. Founded by Brodie Lancaster, the feminist publication discusses movies in the way that women talk about movies to their friends. It’s not condescending, but it’s also unafraid to tackle lofty ideas and difficult topics—much like a round table email thread with your funniest, smartest friends. Issue 6 is due out later this year, but you can purchase “Filmme Fatales” back issues online now.

Strange Arrangement

Wakai Haruka is a Japanese artist who creates clean, crisp photography that’s intriguing and soothing in equal measure. Her zine “Strange Arrangement” plays with bold colors, cutting and pasting objects (usually food) in a strange and surreal way, and expertly positioning eccentric elements in a manner that rivals the most elaborate flower arrangement. Wakai Haruka’s work is fun but never cutesy, serene but never boring. You can buy issue 1 and 2 of “Strange Arrangement” online.

Hero image by Sean Fennessy, all others by Sinead Stubbins