Hidden art space: The Dirty Dozen


Melbourne is home to various hidden art locations, and one of them – The Dirty Dozen – is hidden just right under our noses. Located in an underground tunnel underneath Degraves Street, also known as Campbell Arcade, the exhibition space consists an array of 12 glass display cabinets, each consistent in sizing and resembles art pieces mounted on the walls of art galleries. 

The display cases are enveloped by the arcade’s distinct tiles in salmon pink or “Mamie pink” – a term believed to be popularised by Mamie Eisenhower, wife of United States president Dwight D. Eisenhower and the First Lady of the United States from 1953 to 1961 – dating back to the mid-century colour palette. 

The time lapse video is recorded on the 4th of September, capturing the essence of The Dirty Dozen display during the Tuesday 6pm rush hour. You can see passers-by making use of the subterranean walkway turning their heads to look at the displays and also tourists or wanderers who tend to stay longer to observe the artworks. (A tip: if you’re ever around the area with looking for a quiet lunch spot, the space will not disappoint.)

Image Source: Jacklyn Yeong

What differentiates the exhibition space with other art galleries is that it is open to any creative individuals with expressions of interest. Skunk Control who showcased the first ever Dirty Dozen exhibition were a group of engineers and scientists from Victoria University. 

Skunk Control exhibition in 2015. (Image Source: Trouble Mag)

The art space was initially managed by artist-run initiative Platform for almost 20 years before the City of Melbourne’s Creative Spaces program took over the space in January 2015 and rebranded it as The Dirty Dozen project. 

Image Source: Jacklyn Yeong

The project currently hosts five exhibitions a year, approximately eight weeks for each theme. However, the exhibition is set for closure on July 1 next year due to Metro Tunnel development works. 







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