Australia’s oldest and most visited art museum, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, celebrated International Women’s Day by announcing the launch of a major exhibition series that will showcase the work of five international women designers and architects. The series is presented by the NGV in collaboration with the Australian beauty retailer MECCA (a kind of Sephora at the antipodes), which made the series possible thanks to a major contribution from its philanthropic arm, M-Power.
In addition to announcing the series of general exhibitions, the inaugural designer who will be part of the Annual Women in Design Committee of Mecca XXV has also been revealed, and she should not be not-known to any reader: the Mexico City-based architect and educator, Tatiana Bilbao.
For the Commission, Bilbao will design a large-scale installation for the NHI, which will be officially unveiled in September. The work will be on display at NGV International in Melbourne’s Arts District until March 2023. As stated in a press release, the Bilbao installation at the NGV “will combine textiles and architectural structure, relying on the use of collage, drawing and model making in its workshop. The Commission will be a body expression of Bilbao’s commitment to liberating architecture from the conventions and canon of the 20th century; propose a new trajectory focused on community, sustainability and ethics.”
For the next four years—in 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026-commissioned designers will be announced on International Women’s Day, culminating in a “great exhibition to present the five works and the remarkable result of the collection.As According to the announcement, the Mecca XXV Design Commission is a one-of-a-kind exhibition series for Australia and will provide “a platform to showcase current world-premiere works of international importance that enhance the contribution of women designers to shaping our world.””
In a statement, Bilboa expressed gratitude to the NHI and Mecca, noting that the new series of exhibitions “contributes in many ways to advancing the discourse on the importance of opening channels for people who have not had opportunities.”
“When I was elected, I took this responsibility very seriously and I am really grateful for this opportunity,” she added.
“Tatiana Bilbao is a compelling voice from outside the traditional canon of architecture and offers a unique perspective on history and the future,” said Tony Ellwood, Director of NGV. “As a North American woman, an advocate and spokesperson for change, Bilbao does a job that is both intellectually rigorous and visually dynamic.”
Although the Mecca XXV Women in Design Commission is a new Commission, the museum and the retailer have been working together since 2016 and have already launched initiatives that also aim to “empower and engage” women artists and designers. A major ongoing collaboration between the two is a limited edition holiday campaign and packaging for Makkah makeup and skincare lines created by a female designer or artist. As stated in the announcement: “Mecca supports the NGV to acquire works by the artist selected for the NGV collection, which contributes to the enrichment of contemporary art and design.”Previous female artists and designers whose works have been added to the NGV collection thanks to the generosity of Mecca include Naomi Hobson, Louise Zhang, Tammy Kanat, Claudia Moodoonuthi, Atong Atem, Rebecca Baumann and Tanya Schultz.
“We have had such wonderful times with the NGV thanks to our long partnership, and I am incredibly happy that it has resulted in this NGV Women in Design Mecca Committee, allowing us to shine a light on the creative minds of women in the design space,” said Jo Horgan, founder and co-CEO of Mecca Brands. “Working with designers of this caliber, such as the global innovator Tatiana Bilbao for the inaugural commission, is really very special.”