Ugly-beautiful: aesthetics and icons in Australian art and architecture

The Australian Ugliness is one of the most important texts on the Australian city. A book that has influenced the professions understanding of architecture and planning. With a preoccupation with questions of taste and aesthetics in suburbia, Boyd’s seminal text failed to address the fundamental urban issues facing the modern city.

The progressive development of Australian cities peak at the 56 Olympics, with the city as a civilising ‘project’ abandoned by our cultural elite. Economically and Intellectually the Australian ‘project’ became suburban and the detached house. The Australian ugliness was published in 1960 and is a record of this shift of focus.

A man of his time, did Boyd’s nostalgia for a particular European history and love of formal modernity blind him to the vibrant urban fabric that was already in place? A talk that will examine the Australian cities changing understanding of beauty and ugliness though the evolution of 200 years of architecture. Hosted in partnership with Rothelowman.

Speakers: Andre Bonnice (WOWOWA), Eugenia Lim (artist), Dr Christine Phillips (Senior Lecturer, RMIT)
Chair: Jonothan Cowle (Rothelowman)


About Eugenia Lim

Eugenia Lim is an Australian artist who works across video, performance and installation. Interested in how nationalism and stereotypes are formed, Lim invents personas to explore the tensions of an individual within society — the alienation and belonging in a globalised world.

The Australian Ugliness collaborators:

Eugenia Lim – writer, director, performer, editor
Alexandra George – producer
Virginia Kay, Jamie Houge – executive producers
Tim Hillier – cinematographer
Dan West – composition and sound design
WOWOWA with Robin Boyd – installation design
The Post Lounge – Kurt Royan (general manager), Ela Furdas (post producer), Kali Bateman (colourist), Alan Bennett (online editor)
Amos Gebhardt – mentor
Nat Cursio – choreography
Kat Chan – costume design and art department
Julia Spizzica – wardrobe assistant
Shylo Tui – lighting consultant (Walsh Street)
Tom Ross – stills photographer
Eleanor Orchard, Alice Cummins, James Andrews, Gregory Lorenzutti, Alice Dixon – costumed figures
Miau Teng Tan, Daria Tolotchkov, Aryan Azizkhani, Rifat Muharram, Phoebe Kramer, Alex Jeanne Macdonald, Tamara Baksheev, Matthew Li – MADA Wearing the City designers
Dan West, Jessie French, Emma McRae, Georgia Nowak, James Stephens, Louise Terry, Rachel Feery, Simon Winkler, Belle Bassin, Sophia Cameron, Bridie Wilkinson – Walsh St partygoers
Tony Isaacson – project manager
Peter Felicetti – structural engineer
Lapel Industries – construction
Paul Christian, Emeile Dawkins, John Fang – installation
3D Inflate – inflatable
Mitra Jafarpour – curtain maker
Warren Davey – signwriter
Ark Coatings – painting
Jacqueline Miller, Grace Carver – studio assistants

The project is made possible through the generous support of the following partners:

Presented by
Open House Melbourne
Melbourne School of Design

Supported by
Australia Council for the Arts
Creative Victoria
City of Melbourne
Australian Cultural Fund
Gertrude Contemporary studio program

Cultural Partners
The Robin Boyd Foundation
Plot Media
The Post Lounge

Industry Partners
Kane Constructions
Wojo Signs

Location Partners
Australian Academy of Science
Australian Islamic Centre
MAB NewQuay Docklands
Melbourne Museum
Melbourne Recital Centre
National Museum of Australia
Save Our Sirius
RMIT University
Scape Swanston
Sydney Opera House
University of Melbourne
Waverley Council

Photo Credit: Eugenia Lim, The Australian Ugliness (2018) production still by Tom Ross

Important Details


Robin Boyd Foundation, 290 Walsh St, South Yarra

Time & Date

23 August 2018


Booking Info

$20 full / $15 concession / $10 Foundation member; registrations essential via

Booking Link

Stay in the loop