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Melissa Loughnan, 2011 Anthill 30under30 Honourable Mention


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What is 30under30?

30under30 is an Anthill initiative launched in early 2008 to encourage and promote entrepreneurship among young Australians. This year saw more outstanding entries than ever before. So, we thought we would highlight some of the bright and innovative nominees who just missed Top 30 by a wink. Behold, our 2011 30under30 Honourable Mentions! More.

Melissa Loughnan, VIC (b. 1982)

Name: Melissa Loughnan
Age: 29 (Born: February 1982)
Gender: Female
State: VIC

Melissa Loughnan doesn’t just make publicity out of art; she makes an art of publicity.

Owner and curator of Utopian Slumps gallery in Melbourne, Loughnan has become an undeniable player on the stage of contemporary art in Australia. She’s given artists a reason to believe and reinvigourated an enterprise steered largely by collectors and philanthropists twice her age. And she has developed a durable model to handle the business behind the artwork.

Utopian Slumps began as a not-for-profit in 2007 with the goal of “shifting the focus of Australian art from the trend of high-tech video, photography and monumental installation to the use of lo-fi materials and craft-based practices,” says Loughnan. In 2010, she restructured it into a PL and reopened as a curator-run dealer space in the Melbourne CBD.

Her artists have  already participated in four major exhibitions and two international biennales, and she has placed their work in two government collections and with a major hotel, the Citadines Melbourne. Loughnan herself has participated in several renowned art fairs including Art Forum Berlin.

“My desire is to succeed at improving and innovating the Australian arts sector by expanding public awareness, participation and access,” says Loughnan. She has done her part by forging ties with arts journalists and winning the confidence of blue-chip collectors, all the while enticing academics, established curators and social media users.

Each one of the gallery’s represented artists (who currently number 11) covers unique aesthetic grounds. But Loughnan knows that, in the end, hers is a game of business. She remains faithful to innovation, but finances are what keep it functioning.

“I strive to coordinate and mastermind every facet of a small business, then grow it,” she says. “I’m driven by the flexibility of being able to travel, take up short-notice opportunities and keep my own hours, and the reward of building strong relationships with my artists and clients.”

Visionary artists and entrepreneurs alike can take heart.

Anthill asks: Melissa Loughnan, what’s your superpower?

“My ability to speak with people at all levels without judgement; my accessibility; and my openness that leads to mutually beneficial relationships with my artists and clients. I have the potential to bring youth, ideas and innovation to what can be seen as an aging, inaccessible and austere business sector.”

Utopian Slumps Gallery


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To check out the full list of Anthill’s 30under30 winners, click here.