The 9pm Arty Greek Melbourne Chat with Esther Anatolitis

Esther Anatolitis dominates the Melbourne artscape. (Photo: Sarah Walker Photography)

As the autumn series of the Edict overflows into Official Winter, we go arty with Esther Anatolitis, editor of Australian literary journal Meanjin and a colossus striding the Melbourne arts scene and beyond.

In this episode we discuss the controversy over Vincent Namatjira’s portrait of billionaire Gina Reinhart, and why Melbourne is so arty and, allegedly, so liveable. We touch upon Cole’s Book Arcade, Melbourne being a UNESCO City of Literature, being Greek — her not me — and much more.

This conversation was recorded on 20 May 2024, so listen all the way to the end for some updates.

[Update 7 June 2024: I’ve edited this podcast to correct something. No, Melbourne never did have the complete prohibition of alcohol. Otherwise it’s all the same.]

Disclosure: Meanjin is a client, though I am not being paid for this and it was all my idea.

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  • Editor of Meanjin Esther Anatolitis is one of Australia’s most influential advocates for arts and culture, and a respected champion of artists’ voices. She is a member of the National Gallery of Australia Governing Council, a member of the Australian Republic Movement’s Victorian Council, and Honorary Associate Professor at RMIT School of Art.
  • Since 1940, Australia’s literary culture has set out its fiercest ambitions in Meanjin. Quarterly in print, Daily online. Embrace Australia’s finest writers.
  • The city of Melbourne was founded in 1835. The exact circumstances of the foundation of Melbourne, and the question of who should take credit, have long been matters of dispute.
  • In the 1850s gold discoveries in Victoria, in Beechworth, Castlemaine, Daylesford, Ballarat and Bendigo sparked gold rushes similar to the California Gold Rush.[6] At its peak some two tonnes of gold per week flowed into the Treasury Building in Melbourne.
  • Mechanics' institutes, also known as mechanics' institutions, sometimes simply known as institutes, and also called schools of arts (especially in the Australian colonies), were educational establishments originally formed to provide adult education, particularly in technical subjects, to working men in Victorian-era Britain and its colonies. They were often funded by local industrialists on the grounds that they would ultimately benefit from having more knowledgeable and skilled employees. The mechanics' institutes often included libraries for the adult working class, and were said to provide them with an alternative pastime to gambling and drinking in pubs.
  • Edward William Cole, also known as "E. W. Cole of the Book Arcade", (4 January 1832 – 16 December 1918) was a bookseller and founder of the Cole's Book Arcade, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia... On 30 September 1865, Cole started a bookshop at the Eastern Market, Melbourne, with a stock of 600 volumes. His total takings at the end of October amounted to £15 12s., most of which was spent in buying fresh stock. He gradually prospered moving to bigger and better stalls.
  • In 2008, Melbourne joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network when it was designated the first City of Literature in Australia, and the second in the world.
  • [22 May 2024] One of the world’s largest bookstores that once called a CBD laneway home during the gold rush era, and visited by literary legend Mark Twain, has been honoured.
  • Collingwood Yards is a new, permanent and affordable home for scores of artists and independent arts organisations working across music, visual arts, performance, digital media, creative industries and beyond.
  • [22 June 2023] Melbourne is fighting its way to the top of the ‘world’s most liveable cities’ this morning, ranking third on the global ranking list - however other Australian cities aren’t far off.
  • The Global Liveability rank Ranking is a yearly assessment published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), ranking 172 global cities (previously 140) for their urban quality of life based on assessments of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
  • Various temperance groups were active in Australia, such as the Independent Order of Rechabites, the Band of Hope and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. These movements aimed to educate the public about the dangers of drinking, and also campaigned for changes to the law, such as the introduction of six o’clock closing and the development of ‘dry’ suburbs... One of the effects of the temperance movement was the emergence of coffee palaces. The coffee palaces aimed to compete with hotels, providing all the amenities and conveniences of hotels, but without the alcohol.
  • Canberra is a planned city and the inner-city area was originally designed by Walter Burley Griffin, a major 20th-century American architect. Within the central area of the city near Lake Burley Griffin, major roads follow a wheel-and-spoke pattern rather than a grid. Griffin's proposal had an abundance of geometric patterns, including concentric hexagonal and octagonal streets emanating from several radii. However, the outer areas of the city, built later, are not laid out geometrically.
  • Located in the heart of Melbourne's Fed Square, ACMI (formerly Australian Centre for the Moving Image) celebrates the wonder and power of the world’s most democratic artform – fostering the next generation of makers, players and watchers.
  • The Federal Coffee Palace was a large, elaborate French Second Empire style 560 room temperance hotel in the city centre of Melbourne, Victoria, built between 1886 and 1888 at the height of the city's 1880s land boom, and demolished in 1972-73... The Federal Coffee Palace was by far the largest and grandest product of the late 19th century temperance movement in the southern hemisphere. The Age wrote that the £150,000 hotel was one of "Australia's most splendid" buildings; in fact, it was "one of the largest and most opulent hotels in the world".
  • Designed by the Griffins for Antony J.J.Lucas at 268-274 Collins Street. Richly detailed and ornamented, Café Australia has been described as “undoubtedly the most handsome café in Australia” (Turnbull and Navaretti p.138).
  • Corner Hardware Lane & Little Bourke, Melbourne, Victoria 3000.
  • At the Melbourne Supper Club. Join us for a culinary love affair that merges the best of Melbourne's charm with authentic Greek cuisine.
  • Sitting opposite the Victorian grandeur of Parliament House our three venues have gained iconic status amongst Melbournians and visitors alike.
  • Big Sound ~ Quality Cocktails ~ Open Late.
  • Brisbane sits on land known also as Meanjin, the name used in the Turrbal language of one group of traditional owners. Meanjin means "place shaped as a spike", referencing the shape of the Brisbane River along the area that Brisbane CBD now straddles. A contemporary Turrbal organisation has also suggested it means "the place of the blue water lilies". Local Elder Gaja Kerry Charlton posits that Meanjin is based on a European understanding of "spike", and that the phonetically similar Yagara name Magandjin — after the native tulipwood trees (magan) at Gardens Point — is a more accurate and appropriate Aboriginal name for Brisbane.
  • Published 15 September 2023. Devoted entirely to work by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and artists, Meanjin 82.3 Spring 2023 is Guest-Edited by Bridget Caldwell-Bright and Eugenia Flynn, and framed around notions of cultural sovereignty and place.
  • Some original names have persisted [...] albeit with distortions, Meanjan being one. Popular use, however, does not make it accurate. It is the right of First Nations peoples to address historical errors.
  • [21 May 2024] Cities in the US and Europe dominated the top 50, based on factors ranging from economic output to quality of life.
  • Our Global Cities Index provides a consistent framework for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the largest 1,000 cities across the world, and when coupled with our forecasts, it enables organisations and policymakers to make more informed strategic decisions.
  • Prepare for an experience that will ignite your passion for Greek culture like never before!
  • Greeks of Melbourne (Greek: ??????? ??? ??????????) compose one of the largest Greek diaspora communities in the world and Melbourne hosts the largest Greek-speaking population outside of Greece and Cyprus. According to the 2016 Australian census, Melbourne has the largest Greek population in Australia with 173,598 Greeks, making up 3.87% of Greater Melbourne's population.
  • In contemporary Australia, the term "wog" may, in certain contexts, be viewed as a "nickname" rather than a pejorative term[1]—akin to the nicknames ascribed within Australian English to other historically significant cultural groupings such as Australians ("Aussies"), the English ("Poms"), the Americans ("Yanks") and New Zealanders ("Kiwis").
  • The Australian Natives' Association (ANA) was a mutual society founded in Melbourne, Australia in April 1871. It was founded by and for the benefit of White native-born Australians, and membership was restricted to that group... The last remaining branch of the ANA closed in 2007 in Western Australia.
  • [15 May 2024] Around 90 years ago, two-thirds of Western Australian voters voted in favour of leaving the Commonwealth at a state referendum. This 1933 result – often seen as a protest vote against the economic and political disadvantages imposed on WA and exacerbated by the Great Depression – was never enacted.
  • When Jane is accused of having a 'white man fetish', she throws herself into a quest to reprogram her libido, only to find that she is inadequate and way out of her depth.
  • Jane Thomas is a woman who knows what she wants - she has a love of hairy white men. When her friends call her out for having a white man fetish, she sets out to reprogram her libido, reigniting a connection with her childhood friend Yu.
  • The international adoption of South Korean children was started after 1953 because a large number of mixed children became orphaned during the Korean War, but later, the children who were adopted in accordance with the international adoption program included orphaned Korean children. Religious organizations in the United States, Australia, and many Western European nations slowly developed the apparatus that sustained international adoption as a socially integrated system. However, this system is essentially gone as of 2020.
  • [18 May 2024] The mining billionaire Gina Rinehart has demanded the National Gallery of Australia remove her portrait from an exhibition by the award-winning artist Vincent Namatjira.
  • [16 May 2024]
  • [18 May 2024] A second portrait by Vincent Namatjira of Gina Rinehart has emerged which supporters of the mining magnate want pulled from the walls of the National Gallery of Australia.?
  • Vincent Namatjira OAM (born 14 June 1983) is an Aboriginal Australian artist living in Indulkana, in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY lands) in South Australia. He has won many art awards, and after being nominated for the Archibald Prize several times, he became the first Aboriginal person to win it in 2020. He is the great-grandson of the Arrente watercolour artist Albert Namatjira.
  • The first survey exhibition of acclaimed Western Aranda artist Vincent Namatjira, Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour, charts the artist’s career, revealing the power of his painting and the potency of his words.
  • Albert Namatjira (pronounced [namac?ra]; born Elea Namatjira; 28 July 1902 – 8 August 1959) was an Arrernte painter from the MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia, widely considered one of the most notable Australian artists. As a pioneer of contemporary Indigenous Australian art, he was arguably one of the most famous Indigenous Australians of his generation. He was the first Aboriginal artist to receive popularity from a wide Australian audience.
  • The first official painted portrait of King Charles III since his coronation has been unveiled at Buckingham Palace. The vast oil on canvas shows a larger-than-life King Charles in the uniform of the Welsh Guards. The vivid red work, measuring about 8ft 6in by 6ft 6in, is by Jonathan Yeo, who has also painted Tony Blair, Sir David Attenborough and Malala Yousafzai.
  • Jonathan Yeo (born 18 December 1970,) is a British artist of contemporary portraiture who was educated at Westminster School. He rose to prominence for having painted Kevin Spacey, Dennis Hopper, and Cara Delevingne, among others. GQ described him as "one of the world's most in-demand portraitists."
  • Praiseworthy (2023) is a novel by Australian writer Alexis Wright. It was originally published by Giramondo Publishing in Australia in 2023. It was the winner of the 2024 Stella Prize and also the 2023 Queensland Literary Awards — Fiction Book Award.
  • Maestro in Blue (also known as Maestro in Greece) is a Greek drama television series airing on Mega Channel in Greece and through Netflix worldwide. The series consists of three seasons with a total of 19 episodes.

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CONVERSATION TOPICS: Barry Anderson, Joanna Forbes, Paul McElwee, and Peter Viertel.

THREE TRIGGER WORDS: Bernard Walsh, Joanna Forbes, Joanna Forbes again, and two people who choose to remain anonymous.

ONE TRIGGER WORD: Andrew Kennedy, Benno Rice, Bruce Hardie, Chris Rauchle, Dave Gaukroger, Frank Filippone, James Moore, Katrina Szetey, Mark Newton, Michael, Michael again, Michael Cowley, Miriam Faye, Nicole Coombe, Oliver Townshend, Oliver Townshend again, Paul Williams, Peter Blakeley, Peter Blakeley again, Rami Mandow, Rhydwyn, Ric Hayman, Tom Carding, and five people who choose to remain anonymous.


PERSONALISED AUDIO MESSAGE: Matt McLeod and Kimberley Heitman.

FOOT SOLDIERS FOR MEDIA FREEDOM who gave a SLIGHTLY LESS BASIC TIP: Brenton Realph, Garth Kidd, James Connor, James Henstridge, Karletta Abianac, Lindsay Jenkinson, Matthew Crawford, Peter McCrudden, and one person who chooses to remain anonymous.

MEDIA FREEDOM CITIZENS who contributed a BASIC TIP: None this time, which is curious.

And another 17 people chose to have no reward, even though some of them were the most generous of all. Thank you all so much.

Series Credits