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Spotlight on maverick architect Peter Corrigan

RMIT University

RMIT University

Distinguished Melbourne architect, set and costume designer Peter Corrigan has taken over RMIT Gallery with his life, his library, and his vast personal art collection.

Even the gallery walls, painted a startling riot of different saturated hues, reflect Corrigan’s own riotous palette choice in his overflowing home and studio.

The exhibition Peter Corrigan: Cities of Hope opens on Friday, 12 April, and those expecting white walls and a staid collection of architectural sketches and models will be in for a far wilder ride into the maverick designer’s creative mind.

Professor Corrigan is an RMIT University Architecture Professor and RAIA Gold Medal Award-winning architect, best known for designing the University’s bold Building 8 on Swanston Street.

He has maintained his commitment to architectural education at RMIT from 1975 to the present day, while also engaged in successful practice.

This remarkable continuity of contribution was recognised with the 2013 Neville Quarry Architectural Education Prize awarded at the recent Australian Achievement in Architecture Awards in Canberra.

Professor Corrigan divides his passions between architecture, teaching and theatre, and has completed three times the number of stage designs than the buildings designed by his architecture office Edmond & Corrigan.

His striking and witty set and costumes for Verdi’s Falstaff, directed by New Zealand-Australian actor and director Tama Matheson, feature in the new production currently being performed at Oper Graz in Austria.

As well as Professor Corrigan’s own architectural models, drawings and books, the RMIT Gallery exhibition features his set and costume designs, including a bespoke set he created for a play based on Marguerite Duras’ The Lover, starring Kate Kendall and directed by Greg Carroll, to be held within the exhibition (16-25 May).

RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies said Professor Corrigan’s students and contemporaries knew his studio as a treasure trove of books and paintings, where he replenished the creative spirit and found sustenance for the wit and cultural references that were an intrinsic part of his work and character.

“That creative world is being replicated in RMIT Gallery in this extraordinary and unique exhibition,” Ms Davies said.

“This is an important exhibition both for RMIT – in honouring one of its long-standing contributors to the academic landscape – and for Melbourne, whose architectural and theatrical identity Corrigan has helped shape over many years.”
Curated by Vanessa Gerrans, the exhibition takes viewers into Professor Corrigan’s world of ideas.

Ms Gerrans said the vast selection of artworks, including paintings by Rick Amor, Roger Kemp, Philip Hunter, Peter Booth, Bill Henson and Howard Arkley, were intended to suggest influences as well as moments of reflection.

“Corrigan calls these artworks and books his nourishment, but he is also an educator and he wants students to be immersed in ideas and the importance of ideas when they see this exhibition,” she said.

What: Peter Corrigan: Cities of Hope
When: 12 April – 8 June
Where: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne

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