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35 Johnston St,
VIC 3066 Aust.

Opening Hours

Wed–Fri 12–6pm
Sat 12–4pm



Curated by Grace McQuilten and Amy Spiers, with Dewi Cooke and The Social Studio, David Mackenzie and Youthworx, and Irine Vela and Outer Urban Projects Takeover

Dates: February/March 2022

Takeover is a program of public events for Who’s Afraid of Public Space? that celebrates the agency of our communities of diverse young and emerging creatives, and creates the opportunity to take back public spaces following Melbourne’s successive COVID-19 lockdowns. Together, the curatorial team have commissioned young artists from Outer Urban Projects, Youthworx and The Social Studio to present works that activate Melbourne’s public spaces, and the Bus Projects galleries.

Young people of colour have been impacted by the public housing towers lockdown, the racialised and heavy-handed police enforcement of restrictions, barriers to homeschooling due to limited access to personal computers and reliable internet, as well as disruptions to casual and precarious employment. Culturally diverse communities and young people were also incorrectly attributed with the spread of Melbourne’s outbreaks and are being further disrupted by an economic downturn with major impacts for the arts and creative industries.

Conversely the last year has also seen an eruption of youth-led creative community organising, mutual aid and inventive public protests in response to the global COVID pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. It has been young volunteers, for example, who have led the community response to providing essential provisions to communities locked in Melbourne’s public housing towers in 2020. Takeover’s aim is to honour this youthful spirit of community care and social change.

Takeover will showcase the talented contributions of our young emerging artists and communities. It will challenge the stereotypes and stigma directed at young people and instead promote diverse and unique perspectives, creative skills and aspirations for a better, diverse city post-pandemic.


Victorian Parliament Steps

Spring St, East Melbourne VIC 3002

Curators Grace McQuilten and Amy Spiers have partnered with Dewi Cooke (The Social Studio), David Mackenzie (Youthworx) and Irine Vela (Outer Urban Projects), and their three organisations that foster the creativity of young people from culturally diverse, asylum seeker, First Nations, neurodivergent and disabled communities through training and employment in fashion design, digital media production and performing arts respectively.

Dewi Cooke is a creative leader and CEO of The Social Studio, as well as an experienced reporter, editor and producer of digital media and podcasts. She was a print reporter at The Age newspaper for more than a decade writing on migration and multicultural affairs.

David MacKenzie is a video artist, filmmaker and media trainer/mentor at Youthworx. He has worked across video art, documentary and collaborative media for over ten years.

Grace McQuilten is a curator with a passion for contemporary art and community development. McQuilten founded The Social Studio in 2009, a fashion-based social enterprise that supports young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. From 2006-2021 she has curated 12 major exhibitions/projects at venues including the Immigration Museum and NGV International.

Amy Spiers is an artist and researcher with an interest in socially engaged and politically charged art. Spiers has also produced and curated numerous public programs and exhibitions including Counter-monuments: Indigenous settler relations in Australian contemporary art and memorial practices symposium with Genevieve Grieves (ACCA, 2021) and AAANZ Conference (RMIT, 2018).

McQuilten and Spiers are also researchers at RMIT School of Art working on a four-year Australian Research Council project which analyses how creative organisations support marginalised youth. Grace and Amy curated “Joining my future”: Art, Work, Inequality and Crisis for Bus Projects gallery in early 2021 with artists from The Social Studio, Outer Urban Projects and Youthworx.

Irine Vela is a composer, director, musician, producer, dramaturg, theatre maker and artistic director of Outer Urban Projects. She has collaborated with many of Australia’s finest performers, writers, directors and theatre companies including the MTC, Melbourne Workers Theatre and Brunswick Women’s Theatre.
Films by Ruci Kaisila, Joseph Samarani and Damian Seddon of Outer Urban Projects from this project will also be presented at ACCA, in the Project Space: The Hoarding over the duration of the exhibition.