Vali Myers

Visionary artist and Melbourne’s bohemian darling, Vali Myers, in her studio in the Nicholas Building. Image by Liz Ham, 1997.

It’s been hot in Melbourne lately. One great way to beat the heat is to step into the beautiful State Library of Victoria. There’s always something good going on there and this summer there’s a fantastic exhibition that shines light on Melbourne’s cultural misfits.

Bohemian Melbourne celebrates the lives of writers, visual artists, rock stars and other rebels who made art their lives and their lives an art form. Explore history’s backstreets with their cafes and studios to discover the visionaries who pushed against convention and changed Melbourne.

The exhibition begins in 1860 with the arrival of English dandy Marcus Clarke who went on to become an important Australian literary figure and the father of bohemian Melbourne after establishing its first bohemian club. Travel through history, through political and economic upheavals, to find smoky salons, covert house parties, and underground nightclubs.

For those of who are not from here, Bohemian Melbourne offers a glimpse into a side of Melbourne’s history we don’t typically get to see. Some of the names, such as Vali Myers, Barrie Humphries, and Nick Cave, are familiar; most are not. When it comes to bohemianism, it’s the likes of Paris, New York, and San Francisco that often get the spotlight. Bohemian Melbourne is a welcomed change. I really enjoyed it and walked away with a new and different appreciation for Melbourne.

Bohemian Melbourne is free at the State Library of Victoria and runs through 22nd of February.

Have you been to this exhibition? Are you familiar with Melbourne’s bohemian past and present? What does your bohemian Melbourne look like?




  1. Looks very cool. I love learning about the fabulous misfits in history!
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