Front Beach, Back Beach turns Mornington Peninsula into a public outdoor art gallery

Artist Hiromi Tango entwined in her colourful soft sculpture creations

Nicola Dowse

Posted November 03, 2022

Some of the peninsula’s most iconic locations are taking part in a month-long public art project that showcases the stories and culture of the famous seaside escape.  

The Mornington Peninsula might be one of Victoria's best known summer playgrounds, but the festivities are starting early this year.   

Front Beach, Back Beach is a public art project showing on the Mornington Peninsula from November 4 to 27, turning the idyllic seaside locale into a huge art gallery. Think of Front Beach, Back Beach as a month-long art festival with works dotted across the region, tours, and events - including an exclusive lunch at RACV Cape Schanck Resort - locked-in as part of the celebration.  

Presented by Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and Deakin University’s Public Art Commission, Front Beach, Back Beach brings together 18 leading Australian artists and arts collectives to showcase the region’s landscape, community and culture.  

Danny Lacy, the Director of Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and one of the Artistic Directors for Front Beach, Back Beach, says the project can be thought of as a “road trip for art lovers.” 

“You can come down to the peninsula, and you can spend a day or a weekend travelling around and you get to experience all the amazing landscapes.” 

Front Beach, Back Beach encapsulates the land and culture of Mornington Peninsula through a number of artforms. Image: Geoff Robinson, Durational Situation / Monmar 2020, Courtesy the artist and Mick Russel
Artist talks, tours and workshops are taking place in addition to the project's artworks and performances. Image: Bus Tour, Courtesy Willow Creative

Art across the peninsula

There’s a lot of territory to cover when talking about the Mornington Peninsula, a challenge Front Beach, Back Beach organisers tackled by dividing the 15 artworks into three distinct hubs - Western Port, Foreshore, and Point Nepean. 

Across these three hubs, the art in Front Beach, Back Beach is tied together in their shared exploration of the peninsula through site-responsive works - that is, artworks that have been created in response to the history, culture and geography of the site they're located on.

“Each of the projects is really exploring the unique sights and place of the peninsula,” says Lacy. 

Just how they do that is up to the creatives – there’s sculpture and installation (turning the peninsula into a sampler of Bondi’s famed Sculpture by the Sea), but also film (including a screening at Dromana’s beloved drive-in) and performance. Artist talks, tours, and workshops are also happening as part of the Front Beach, Back Beach programming.

One artist exploring the history of the peninsula is Lucy Bleach, who’s tackling the once thriving chicory industry, with the brick kilns still standing in some locations. "Lucy's work is responding to that history, but using a very contemporary representation,” says Lacy.

“She's making a big ice block, that will melt over November. And within that ice block, there's chicory that she's grown in her vegetable garden, and there's other objects that she's collected from the site.” 


Hiromi Tango will take over Beleura House with her signature colourful sculptures. Images indicative of artist's practice: Traces Blue 2013, Courtesy the artist.
Hiromi Tango, Rainbow Circles (Healing Circles) 2020, Courtesy the artist.
Hiromi Tango, Healing Chromosomes 2017. Courtesy the artist.

Another installation that is set to shake-up one of Mornington’s most grand attractions is Hiromi Hotel: Art Garden by New South Wales-based artist, Hiromi Tango. 

Tango is taking over the palatial 19th century grounds of Beleura House and Garden with her signature installations that explore the intersection of art and mental health. Using vivid and colourful soft sculptures created from a variety of materials, Tango draws on her own experiences of anxiety to make you think about art can be therapeutic.  

“Hiromi is a fantastic artist... she’s a real rainbow of energy,” says Lacy.  

For Hiromi Hotel, Tango created an installation inspired by flowers and made from recycled materials in Beleaura’s vegetable garden, in collaboration with age care residents, students, artists, and local community.  

“Basically, we're transforming that whole garden with these multicoloured rainbow sculptures,” Lacy says. “The whole garden will be transformed with this amazing assemblage that covers the glass house, that covers all of the archways.”

It’s a participatory work too, with visitors invited to create their own art and reconnect with their creative juices. “Through November, there will be workshops where visitors and community groups can come in and make little soft sculptures and then add it to the the artwork.”


Headshots of artists Vera Möller, Lisa Waup and James Geurts in a composite image

Artists Vera Möller, Lisa Waup and James Geurts are joining guests at the RACV Cape Schanck Resort for an exclusive lunch. Images: Courtesy the artists

A visual – and literal - feast

It’s not just the visual arts that visitors to Front Beach, Back Beach can enjoy, with the culinary arts also on show.  The Art of Lunch is an exclusive, one-day-only lunch happening at RACV Cape Schanck Resort where guests will be treated to an afternoon of food, wine and (of course) art. 

Front Beach, Back Beach artists Lisa Waup, Vera Möller, and James Geurts are joining guests for a leisurely long lunch on November 18, where they’ll deep-dive into their creative practice and works for the public art project. 

RACV Cape Schanck Resort’s award-winning chefs are curating a three-course menu for the event, with each course drawing inspiration from one of the presenting artists and their Front Beach Back Beach works – each of which creatively respond to the landscape.

“The lunch will be a unique opportunity to meet Vera, Lisa and James and hear from the artists about the inspiration behind their work,” Lacy says.

“The executive chefs at RACV Cape Schanck Resort are preparing a unique locally inspired menu and wine selection, so the Art of Lunch will be an event not to be missed.”

Tickets for the Art of Lunch are $110 per person and includes three courses, beverages and can be booked online

Front Beach Back Beach is on from November 4 to 27 at various sites across the Mornington Peninsula.