Hats off to a local talent

Published on 30 September 2022

Felt hat adorned with colourful design

A stylish new Gallery Shop exhibition hits Benalla Art Gallery in time for Spring, with local artist Melanie Ball presenting Art aHead!

The colourful exhibition celebrates Ball’s range of artisan hats depicting flora, fauna, landscapes, and quirky scenes.

Ball, who runs an upcycled fashion label Appliquez Moi, explains, “I rescue (mostly 100 percent wool felt) hats from op shops and decorate them in a range of themes from abstract to Australiana, creating one-off wearable artworks. I applique fabrics to the hats, and finish the edges with glue and paints. Every hat is unique, because every blank hat I rescue is different.”

“I started upcycling jackets in the 1990s because I was bored with my then home of Melbourne’s obsession with basic black. I decorated my first hat as a gift and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Benalla Art Gallery Director, Eric Nash, said the exhibition has an immediate impact.

“It’s a wonderful time of year in Benalla. With the brighter and warmer weather and beautiful colours of the Gardens coming to life, it’s fitting for our guests to be greeted by a selection of locally made, cheerful hats on entry to the Gallery.”

“Melanie is a wonderful local artist. Following from a number of previous successful Gallery Shop exhibitions, this exhibition is further evidence of not just the depth, but the diversity of creative talent in our region, from painting, ceramics and sculpture, to photography, printmaking, jewellery and fashion.”

In January, Benalla Art Gallery announced a process for artists of the region to apply for rotational, monthly exhibitions in the Gallery Shop glass cabinets. The program is designed to better promote and support local and regional creative practices. Melanie Ball follows successful Gallery Shop exhibitions by Pauline Fraser, Maggie Hollins, Lorna Hobbs, Susie Buykx, Joan Mullarvey, the Border & North East Basketmakers Group, Liz Walker and Molly Herry-Carscallen.