Enter into a museum of the curious and idiosyncratic world of Alfred Felton, goldfield entrepreneur, self-taught pharmacist, committed art-lover and patron, benefactor of desolate women and children, and long-term resident of the Espy… whose legacy-built Melbourne into one of the great artistic and cultural capitals of the world.
A pop-up contemporary museum that celebrates the life of Alfred Felton and sheds light on the little-known story of his impact on Melbourne’s high art and low living opens from Friday 8 until Sunday 17 November 2019.
In addition to the museum itself, there is a week-long program of evocative storytelling, talks and adventures.
The Felton Museum
Discover the world of Alfred Felton, where the past and the present meet. Felton lived at Hotel Esplanade from 1892 to 1904, and in fact, died on the premises. He is an unsung hero of the visual arts of Melbourne and a quiet benefactor to an extraordinary number of women and children in need. In the Felton Museum – a transformed space on the top floor of The Espy – you will discover his impact, his times, his passions and his progressive spirit through artefacts, film, audio stories, performances, readings and the collision of old and new art. Be prepared to be blown away by this modest man’s legacy – and the sea view. Including appearances by Matt Crosby, Maude Davy and Joseph Sherman.
Deadly (Maurial Spearim and Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir)
A women’s only trip from The Espy to Point Nepean exploring the story of kidnap and escape of a St Kilda / Yaluk-ut Weelam woman from a sacred indigenous women’s place.
A live performance reading of extracts from Flinders Lane by Russell Grimwade and Mr Felton’s Bequests by John Poynter.
Storytelling Tours, Talks and Adventures
Art x Cocktails
An exploration of the links between the 11-original works of art that adorn the walls of The Gallery and Felton, set against guided tastings of the cocktails inspired by each artwork from the newly released Ghost Of Alfred Felton cocktail menu.
Green Room Diaries (Brian Nankervis)
Join us in a fly-on-the-wall account of the good, the bad and the ugly of the history of live music in the Gershwin Room. A personal account from a Gershwin Room alumni staged in an intimate dressing-room setting where what really goes down is revealed. Includes a special performance, taste of the rider and backstage visit to the Gershwin Room.
A virtual walk and talk through the historical graves of Alfred Felton, his friends and colleagues, set against the new world practice of online memorials. Commentary from those who really know the business of being dead and how it differs between 1904 and 2019.
The Ghosts of Hotel Esplanade
Not your average ghost tour, this storytelling experience explores the ever-evolving Euro Yroke / St Kilda shoreline from pre-colonisation through to the current landscape where The Espy stands today. Over its 140 years, The Espy has housed all manner of inhabitants, notorious incidents and former grand extensions now combined into a compelling storytelling hour while exploring what this iconic building has to offer. Dr Bo’s entwined stories about the permeating walls of Australia’s only 19th-century resort-style hotel on the shifting Euro Yroke and St Kilda shoreline.
Behind the Scenes
History, music and mystery weaved with stories and invitations into unseen spaces. See areas and learn stories never revealed to the public before from the tunnel in the cellar to its magical transformation today. Behind the Scenes are a compilation of fond memories and quirky anecdotes presented by third-generation St Kilda rock’n’roller Suzi Q P Dhol.
A treat for culture lovers, history buffs and those who like a good yarn, this storytelling experience illuminates the little-known life of former Hotel Esplanade resident Alfred Felton, Australia’s largest philanthropist to the arts.
Melbourne publican Matt Mullins is an art and history lover. Like many publicans he tells a great tale and loves a few laughs. His passion is perhaps best demonstrated by the obsessive number of sticky-notes hanging from the pages of Mr Felton’s Bequests, a biography by John Poynter that has been a permanent fixture under Matt’s arm for many months.
Architecture Now (Technē)
Hotel Esplanade was originally built as a 60-room hotel in the Renaissance Revival Regency Resort-style before alterations in the 1920s transformed it into a celebrated live music venue. From the 90s onwards, the Espy survived numerous sales and threatened demolition before undergoing a major refurbishment in 2018.
The owners endeavoured this ambitious and meaningful transition through the guides of their long-standing relationship with the architects from Technē. Meet them as Nick and the team unravel their story of transforming an already iconic venue into a place that would further unlock greatness and mystery.
Janenne Willis, Artistic Director of The Felton Museum is available for interview.
The Felton Museum, Friday 8 until Sunday 17 November 2019 as part of Espy Arts, Hotel Esplanade, 11 The Esplanade, St Kilda. Booking details and tickets https://hotelesplanade.com.au/arts-program/