Showcasing contemporary art and hosting live music, nestled in the heart of Chinatown is FAD Gallery. It’s one of Melbourne’s venues that is just waiting to be discovered.
‘‘I didn’t want to work a corporate, 9 to 5 life anymore,’’ venue owner Johnny Halleday explains. ‘‘So I decided to open up a gallery. It has taken a long time, but it’s continued because it’s good fun.’’
FAD Gallery doesn’t limit itself into one visual aesthetic when choosing works to display, and has curated an array of exhibitions, ranging across mediums of photography, mixed media and painting. ‘‘This place has always been about welcoming different people. Variety is the spice of life I find.’’
Previously, the gallery has exhibited the works of Dennis Ropar, Karl James and Andrew Pearson, with new installations occurring every three to four weeks. ‘‘It’s about putting up good, aesthetically pleasing work that is going to challenge the public and make them think. Hopefully, you can show some work that people do like and want to buy as well. Art is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder.’’
In addition to exhibiting art, FAD incorporates live music into the gallery space, with bands playing every Thursday and DJs on Friday and Saturday nights. The calibre of resident artists includes Frank Raymond & The Silhouettes, Rocky and the Two Bob Millionaires as well as recognised songwriter and vocalist Bernadette Novembre.
‘‘Rocky is a mate of mine and the band have been playing here for nearly 14 years. He’s basically part of the furniture. Frank Raymond is a band I’m in that’s been going for about six years. I’m fairly into melodic music, and we advertise funky, folk rock’n’roll, which is anything from the ‘60s through, so people get the idea.’’
As well as presenting exhibitions and musical talent, every year the venue hosts acts from Melbourne’s International Comedy Festival. Performing this year will be Andrew Dawson, Big Boiz of Brisbane Comedy, the three-piece of Chris Marlton, Nick Schuller and Taylor Coughtrie as well as 2 Animals (That Don’t Traditionally Get Along), Jai Ashman and Ciaran Lyons. ‘‘We have held acts from the International Comedy Festival for years. We do three shows a night in the room on the first floor. It’s a great space to have comedy.’’
On top of the art, music and comedy, the venue seamlessly integrates a vibrant bar and dancing atmosphere into its role as a gallery. ‘‘We love people dancing. I want people to be able to come in on any occasion and have a good time. The music is good, but if someone was on a date, they could chat too. It’s a bit like the art I put up – I appeal to a lot of people so it’s accessible.’’
The bar offers an assortment of drinks for patrons to enjoy while they peruse the work on the wall, or groove to the music. “We offer cocktails, basic spirits, beers and wine and host a ‘Whine & Wine’ night every Wednesday. Our prices aren’t too expensive either.’’
Looking to the future, Halleday has plans to grow into even more diverse territory. ‘‘We will be starting up a political poetry slam on Tuesday nights and putting together a bar food menu with nuts, dips, groovy chips and other nibbles. Currently, I’m working on exhibiting a retrospective show for Kevin Mortensen, his work is fantastic.’’
As a whole, the venue offers an eclectic mix of art and music, fusing them together with ease in a bar setting. ‘‘It’s an interesting joint. We are one big family, with people who have been coming here for years from all over. With everything that happens here, whether it’s art, music or the bar – it’s a place of assembly.’’
FAD Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 4pm to late. To check out what’s on or enquire about exhibiting or performing, head to the venue’s website for further contact details.