Skip to content
Loading Events

« All Events


18 June - 13 July

18 June – 13 July 2024

Tuesday – Friday: 12pm – 7pm
Saturdays: 12pm – 4pm
admission: Free

A series of pastel and paper embossed drawings in praise of trees.

The Arboreal series of pastel and paper embossed drawings developed from my first visit to Wilson’s Promontory in late 2019 where I was fascinated by the twisting, textures and creature like shapes of the windswept coastal tea trees. This grew to a focused visual interest and wonder in all trees.

Initial black and white drawings evolved to include colour, folding and embossing of the paper, emphasising the flow and movement of foliage and branches and giving a sense of dimension and depth. These elements and interests are influenced and continuing from my theatre and dance design practice with the added importance of lighting to give shadow and dimension.

All the drawings are based on and inspired by real trees, though I am mostly drawn to those with a particular and unusual character, spirit and shape or strong individual patterning of bark and trunks.

All the trees were discovered and observed on walks around Melbourne including the gardens behind the NGV, the Botanic Gardens, Royal Park and many local walks during COVID lockdowns. Later more distant walks included Sherbrooke Forest and East Warburton where I rekindled my love and fascination with tree ferns.

I prefer having sections of the original unmarked paper showing in the drawings and although the later drawings fill the entire sheet of paper with pastel markings there is always some rubbing back revealing the original paper and light surface below.

Images: Arboreal series, Michael Pearce, 2023, pastel on Velin Arches 300gsm paper

Michael Pearce is a visual artist ,theatre set and costume designer and occasional performer, designing for dance and drama companies in Australia New Zealand, Asia and Europe. His pastel and charcoal drawings have been exhibited throughout Australia, Hong Kong and Hanoi.

His previous four exhibitions at fortyfivedownstairs began with Fluid in 2011 which was influenced by his two Asialink residencies and many cross cultural design and dance collaborations in Hanoi, Vietnam. His large Vietnam inspired drawing installation Flow was exhibited at at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick in 2000 and then Hanoi in 2002.

Unwrapped Hong Kong exhibited at fortyfivedownstairs in 2013 was developed from twice being Artist in Residence teaching at The Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts and exhibiting in HK. Michael has also been a guest teacher at WAAPA and The Victorian College of the Arts.

Michael’s previous exhibition at fortyfivedownstairs Unfolding in 2019, introduced his interest in folding and embossing the drawings which developed from his stage design practice making set design models.

He has designed for many theatre and dance companies from Dance North in Townsville to the Netherlands Dance Theatre and is the recipient of three Victorian Green Room Awards for Best Dance Design – all designs for The Australian Ballet.

This is Michael’s first exhibition focused entirely on drawing trees though his last stage designs, for Stephen Baynes Night Path for the Australian Ballet and Douglas Wright’s The Kiss Inside in Auckland, both featured large sculptural tree elements.
Instagram michaelpearcemelbourne

Diploma in Art (Teaching) – South Australian School of Art 1967
Bachelor of Arts Degree (Drama,English, Fine Arts) Flinders University, Adelaide 1970

Unfolding, fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne 2019
Lacuna, fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne 2015
Unwrapped Hong Kong, fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne 2013
Fluid, fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne 2011
Hong Kong Unwrapped, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts Gallery 2009
Flow, Nha Trien Lam/Exhibition House, Hanoi Vietnam 2002
Flow, Harbourside, Darling Harbour, Sydney Gay Games Cultural Festival 2002
Flow, a drawing installation Counihan Gallery in Brunswick 2000
Works On Paper, Scope Gallery, Melbourne 1995
Drawings, Firestation Community Arts Centre, Dandenong Vic 1993
Drawings, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville Qld 1992
Drawings, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide 1992
Drawings, Malthouse Gallery, Malthouse Theatres, Melbourne 1991
Stranded Shores, Reconnaissance Gallery, Melbourne 1987
Drawings, University Gallery, Adelaide University, Adelaide 1978

45 at 45, fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne 2017
Eclectic St., Easey St Artist Studios 2017
Identity, Midsumma, fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne 2011
Constellations – A Large Number of Small drawings, RMIT Gallery 2010
Three by Three –designs for AB’s Interplay, Vic Arts Centre 2008
Drawn to the Stage, Victorian Arts Centre Gallery 2007
308b an exhibition of five artists, Counihan Gallery in Brunswick 2001
N.A.V.A. Window, Collins Street, Melbourne 1994
Landscape, Roar Studios, Fitzroy Vic 1993
The Alice Prize, Alice Springs Art Gallery, Alice Springs NT 1993
Spring Festival of Drawing, Mornington Peninsula Art Centre 1993
The Alice Prize, Alice Springs Art Gallery, Alice Springs NT 1992
Diamond Valley Art Award, Melbourne 1991
Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On, Performing Arts Museum, Melbourne 1991
Artzworkz Two BP Australia Aquisitive Prize, Melbourne 1990
Townsville Art Award Exhibition, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townville 1990
Castlemaine Festival Drawing Prize, Castlemaine Art Gallery 1990
Imaging Aids Exhibition, Linden Gallery, St Kilda, Vic 1989
Prague Quadriennale of International Theatre Design 1983
Stage Design, Myer Gallery Adelaide Festival, Adelaide 1982
Latrobe Valley Prize Exhibition, Latrobe Valley Arts Centre Vic 1972
Corio Prize Exhibition, Geelong Art Gallery, Geelong Vic 1971

Opening Night
Wednesday 19th June
5:00pm to 7:00pm
Small Gallery

Free Entry.
All Welcome.
No Booking Required.


18 June
13 July
Event Category:


fortyfivedownstairs gallery
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000 Australia
+ Google Map
03 9662 9966
View Venue Website


03 9662 9966


Michael Pearce
Back To Top


Hear the latest news in our fortnightly e-newsletter

You have Successfully Subscribed!