Every year the beautiful 1850s mansion that houses the Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts is overrun with thousands of small artworks for its Postcard Show.
The show is a competition, open to artists of all ages and experiences, working across all media. The only proviso is that the submissions have to be mini masterpieces, no larger than 30cm x 30cm. But while the works may be small, the scale of the show certainly isn’t. As Linden’s director Melinda Martin says, “thousands of artworks are hung across nearly every surface of the gallery's exhibition spaces… in a frenzy of colour and movement.”
Running for over 20 years, the Linden Postcard Show has become a staple of the Melbourne art calendar. “The show provides opportunities for artists to take the first step to display their work in public,” says Martin, “many well-known artists such as Patricia Piccinini, Penny Byrne and Rob McHaffie all first displayed their work in the Postcard Show.” The calibre of the judges – usually some of Australia’s leading curators, critics and art historians – also keeps the competition lively.
The exhibition is always popular and noisy and unpredictable and unpretentious. Many of the entrants are terrific but some are...not. The gallery is proud that there isn’t a pre-selection process, as Martin boasts, “in the history of the prize we have never not hung an entrant.” The winners vary from year to year; sometimes they are first-time entrants and sometimes well-known artists. The works are all for sale, and the small format means they’re reasonably priced. Big names rub shoulders with passionate amateurs. In the sometimes slick world of contemporary art, the Linden Postcard Show is a welcome breath of fresh air.