Tees: Exposing Melbourne’s T-shirt Culture

29/12/12 – Skulls in Temporary T-shirt Exhibition at the NGV Studio

So today I decided to visit Federation Square in Melbourne, while I was walking through the building, I recognised a very large t-shirt collection that was displayed within the NGV Studio; the temporary exhibition was titled, “Tees: Exposing Melbourne’s T-Shirt Culture”. For those who have not visited Melbourne, The National Gallery of Victoria do have a small studio located in Federation square that often exhibits contemporary art, illustration and graphic design.


T-Shirt Designs Displayed in Tees: Melbourne Street Culture Exhibition at Fed Square, Artists Unknown. 

In the first gallery space, I was amazed by all the different t-shirt designs that have been mounted to the wall. All the different patterns, colours and designs do add an interesting effect, the actual display immediately persuaded me to enter the gallery space. I had also realised that the skull was a very popular t-shirt design that continually reappeared throughout the entire exhibition.


Design by Harvey Nichols 

The display was quite tall, all the different designs were attached to the wall, one on top of the other in a grid formation. The way the designs were displayed was very creative, it’s not everyday where you see t-shirt designs / illustrations displayed on a large-scale in an exhibition. According to Federation Square website, the exhibition features Eddie Zammit’s t-shirt collection, Zammit also works for a popular T-shirt magazine known as T-World, that often displays a range of t-shirt designs from artist’s, illustrators and designers. On the website, Zammit explains that has collected 4,000 t-shirts in total, Zammit is definitely a t-shirt enthusiast that’s for sure.


Design by Meggs: I have also recognised this design in the streets and ally ways around Melbourne. I though this particular design was familiar when I walked into the exhibition! 

There is limited information on this particular exhibition so I will have to take another visit to find out whether the NGV have displayed all 4,000 t-shirt designs from Zammit’s collection. The gallery space also featured a range of photographs that featured a range of contemporary artists, designers and illustrators who are known for their incredible t-shirt designs. Each photograph featured a photograph of the artist, the artist’s name as well as a short description of the artist’s own professional practise. What I did find really interesting is the fact that most of the photographs did feature a skull within the background; either a metal or a plastic skull.


Design by Grand Scheme

Has the skull become a popular icon in Melbourne’s t-shirt culture? Well for almost a year I have seen so many people walking around the city with skull printed t-shirts and the exhibition does feature skulls in almost every single corner within the gallery space. I would say that there is a growing interest for the skull in contemporary street art and design. In fact, when I first started the blog all I could recognise was skull printed t-shirts and now they’re becoming popular than ever before, it’s hard to walk into a clothes store without noticing an entire selection of skull printed t-shirts.


This was my favourite design within the entire exhibition but I could not find the artist’s name. If you do know the name of the artist please let me know. 

I would definitely recommend visiting the exhibition if you are in Melbourne or click on the link below to visit their website.



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