Accessible Exhibition Labels

This guide contains interpretive text and high-contrast versions of the text contained within Joy exhibition.

Joy Introduction

We can all feel joy.

Seven artists and designers explore this essential emotion creating powerful encounters with colour and story. Take a moment to reflect and revel in their gentle sparks and brilliant flares.

It’s time to come together.

First Peoples Acknowledgement

This exhibition was developed on the lands of the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people, who have always nurtured connections and celebrated creativity.

We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which we work, and we pay our respects to all First Peoples across Victoria and Australia, and to those from other countries who are visiting today.



Nadia Hernández

Que te puedo decir, así son las cosas

These works commemorate cotidianidad (everydayness), where daily moments conducive of joy are examined and revered.

To me, nourishment is a poetic act, a manera (way) of strengthening connections. Using my personal archive as a reference point to construct bold paper cut-outs, the vignettes

encountered here evoke and celebrate familial connections and cultural traditions revolving around food and music, such as Venezuelan recipes written and shared by my mom, the exchange of these meals with friends across different locations, digital expressions of connection and sustenance through WhatsApp conversations, song lyrics, poetry and mor recent experiences spent caring for my abuela in a time of difficulty.

These vignettes propose joy as a methodology and daily practice parallel to the often disconnected and disjointed experience of living away from family and friends.

Spencer Harrison

Bring It to the Runway, Runway

My artwork Bring It to the Runway, Runway uses the aesthetics and visual vocabulary of drag, nightclubs and fashion runways to queer the architecture of the gallery. Oversized coloured jewels are used to ‘drag up’ the interior, with the play of colour and light creating a joyful space in which all identities can be celebrated.

Colour plays an important role in my work as a queer artist, acting as a powerful force that can convey emotion, be a symbol of pride and serve as a form of protest against discrimination.

In this space, I invite you to strut your stuff, dance, pose and celebrate who you are.


Nixi Killick

Joy Generator

Joy exists within us always, a pilot light to be awakened and activated.

Colour has always fuelled my joy and provided the key to unlocking a positive reflection from the world.

Joy Generator hopes to fan flames of optimism and elation, to stimulate the senses and ignite the imagination. Ecstatic turbines of technicolour … Pillar of positivity …

My imagineering practice focuses on creating tools for interactive experiences that connect communities, and facilitate intimacy with colour, technology and mixed reality to probe the perimeters of possibility, uplift our imaginations and immerse ourselves in positive storytelling.

Step into colour and use augmented reality to spark your joy!

Wall and floor graphics printed by Boom Studios

Follow the steps below to activate the augmented reality

Celebrate the ever-changing nature of life!

Download the Eyejack app

Launch the Nixi Killickaugmented reality experience

Find the bugs on the walls and pillar

Hold your camera over them

Watch them dance and leap into life

Capture the morphing motifs and share on social media #JoyExhibition #nixikillick


Elyas Alavi with Sher Ali

In search of the Simurgh

This artwork is inspired by the story of the Simurgh. According to an ancient Persian legend, birds from all over the world gathered to find a mystical giant bird called Simurgh. They embarked on an epic journey crossing many places and overcoming challenges. At the end only 30 birds reached the destination. There they realised they themselves, collectively, had become the great Simurgh. In Farsi/Dari language, ‘Simurgh’ can be read as ‘30 birds’.

There is a beautiful connection between this story and migration experiences. As a former refugee myself, I celebrate the resilience and strength of immigrants and refugees in this artwork. The colours in this room represent happiness, togetherness and the joy of being connected.

Wall text

The story of the Simurgh is symbolic of a spiritual journey. This mythic bird is believed to be thousands of years old and still alive today. Revered as a purifier of the earth and water, the Simurgh represents fertility and the union between heaven and earth.

The calligraphies and neon text in this room are from The Conference of Birds, written in the 12th century by Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar. The words in neon describe a moment of unity, patience and hope in the poem, when the 30 birds saw the Simurgh in full and realised they were the Simurgh all along. The prints to the left depict illustrations created up to 400 years ago by miniature masters.

In the soundscape you can hear a poetry reading in Farsi about the Simurgh, birdcalls, including native Australian birds, and traditional music featuring the sound of the rubab which is the national instrument of Afghanistan.

Captions for prints

The Simurgh learns about Rakhsh, 1500 CE, from the Shahnameh, the 10th century Persian Book of
Kings by Firdawsi Source: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0

Zal rescued by the Simurgh, 1500 CE, from the Shahnameh, the 10th century Persian Book of Kings by Firdawsi Source: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0

The Simurgh, from the Mughal period, 1620 CE

The conference of the birds, illustrated by Habiballah of Sava, 1600 CE


Callum Preston

Video Land

My pre-social media, late 90s teenagehood was carefree and joyous. And with technological limitations, our window to pop culture was through TV, magazines and VHS.

Perusing the video shop was sacred. For some, the hunt was about speed and accuracy, or a 15-minute whip around waiting for fish and chips, and others, scouring to compile 10 for $10 of 80s weeklies. There was something for everyone; a choose-your-own adventure. A joy I never thought I would miss, until I realised it was long gone.

From the bold bright colours of the walls and shelves, to the energetic movement of the custom-designed carpet, the visual joy of Video Land lies in the chaos and contrast. The spectrum of imagery across thousands of video covers ties it together. Everything is considered. Part film set/time machine/historical archive, Video Land transports guests to a simpler time.

Take a wander, and please make sure to be kind, rewind.


Jazz Money

Our Laughter Will Become the Waterfall

Cultivating joy in the everyday to me is one of the most radical acts an oppressed group can do. Through laughter and joy we cease to be defined by our oppression. The sovereignty of First Nations people and our Country is eternal, despite the colony that tries to erase us.

The waterfall that once flowed with laughing water here upon Birrarung Marr can still be heard in the laughter of First Nations people who continue to honour Country every day. In particular, I want to thank the Kulin Nations who have cared for this waterway since the first sunrise, and whose custodianship has always overseen the flourishing of joy upon this Country.

To me, joy is all around us, a tender and often domestic space of gathering, sharing, laughing and caring for one another. I want this work to remind audiences that joy can be a private space, an eternal and unshakable state.

Our Laughter Will Become the Waterfall was made with gratitude to the rivers and waterways of the Kulin Nations, and for the custodians who have cared for and been cared for by those sites since always.

Audio recording made with Mudjingaal Yangamba
Mural painting by Remy Bergner
House construction by Adam Groth


Beci Orpin

Bunny Dearest

As we become older, joy becomes harder to find. We often turn to joy in simple and everyday things, but on occasion it’s fun to step into an overwhelming experience of joy, which is why I created this giant rabbit. I’m hoping they bring about that all-encompassing sensation of childlike joy, forcing you to be present in the moment.

This work relates closely to my own childhood, the memories of which are a source of joy to me. The patchwork feet and ears are based on a quilt my grandmother made me, the wall colours represent those of my much-loved soft toys, the stickers are reminiscent of those I collected as a child.

Bunny Dearest’s soft exterior was made to be touched, squished and hugged. I hope their larger-than-life scale provides an abundance of joy for you as well.

Bunny construction and manufacture by GAAS Furniture
Wall stickers printed by Alpha Lewis


Joy Pops

The sight of the mountains and valleys of my hometown in New Guinea, whenever I have returned by airplane. No matter how long it’s been, they always welcome me home and my heart feels an immense uplifting joy.

Joy for me is being outside with friends, listening to the forest and water. Giving myself a moment of calm in an environment of peace is so fulfilling.
Liam, 28

Quite probably my greatest joy was the birth of my first baby, a daughter. The feeling of deep love for this vulnerable tiny human life and the need to protect her was overwhelming.
Susan, 73

Yellow because it’s the colour of sunrises and sunsets, lemons and butter, sunflowers and daffodils, honey and autumn leaves. It’s the crackle in the fireplace and the sparkle in all our hopes, dreams and beliefs.

A moment of joy for me is thinking back to myself as a teen who was really scared to come out to my family and now about to marry the love of my life.
Ally, 31

Joy provides people with a drive and motivation to build the things that are truly meaningful to them. Seeking joy can encourage people to make important changes to their life.
Lachlan, 26

Joy is getting hugs from my two little boys, nothing beats that!
Rabia, 37

Joy is an evocative experience that takes me to a beautiful place, where all of my senses are heightened, and a calm sense of wholeness and peace takes over.
Sione, 54

The world is full of sad things that can gather like rainclouds. Joy pierces through like sunshine and reminds us that people, and the world around us, are beautiful and unique.
Monique, 38

Joy ignites us, makes our eyes brighter and our souls tingle.
Yasmin, 42

Joy is one of the simple pleasures of life. It doesn’t need to cost us anything and it does not ask anything in return.
Amanda, 42

Joy keeps us going, it fills our cup. It’s the best of the feelings, the pinnacle, the tops.
Gemma, 38

Pink! Fresh baby skin, flowers, rosy cheeks, strawberry ice cream and sunset sky, la vie en rose : )
Aurelie, 37

The colour green gives me the most joy! Green is the colour of plants, trees and forests. Being around these makes me feel safe and happy.
Shaun, 31

Lapis blue reminds me of swimming in the ocean, connecting me to my Samoan heritage.
Weena, 35

Orange! It’s warm, like a hug or a sweet smile, like a soft sunrise or the aroma of apricots. Orange is joy, laughter and connection with loved ones.
Ruth, 52

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