Ecostore’s limited edition switch-up is a step forward for sustainability

There are many things we could imagine reporting on when it comes to all-ethical, all-natural brand Ecostore, but going to the dark side was never one of them. In fact, it seemed to be a miscommunication until we delved further into the story and discovered its new movement, upon which everything fell into place. Far from representing a shift in a moral code, Ecostore’s new ‘dark side’ comes in the form of black, limited edition bottles that have been created with New Zealand charity Sustainable Coastlines in mind, and they may just be the brand’s best initiative yet.

For every black bottle of vanilla and coconut hand or body wash sold, Ecostore will donate 20cents to the charity in a bid to clear up our quintessentially beautiful coastlines and waterways. The money garnered will go towards the charity’s successful education programmes, public awareness campaigns, tree-planting work and waterfront clean-up operations — one of which will take place at Takapuna Beach on Saturday 3rd November. The large-scale cleanup event will also play host to award-winning Kiwi musician Jamie McDell, who will be rewarding fellow helpers with a free gig following an afternoon of beachside cleaning for an ethical event to remember. For those interested McDell will be spotted again, this time on Saturday 17th, at the Sustainable Coastlines Flagship Education Centre where a discounted refill event will take place, followed by an acoustic performance by the young songstress.

To find a refill station near you, click here, and for more information on the limited-edition range, click here


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Pea, mint and ricotta bruschetta

This game-changing take on bottomless brunch is seriously raising the bar

It’s no secret that the bottomless movement has truly taken off in Auckland. The old “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” adage has truly flourished with each breakfast mimosa and pre-dinner cocktail, and we’re not complaining. In fact, we didn’t think the combination of early bird tipples and quality food could get any better, until we heard of the new take at Gusto at the Grand. The Italian take. The all-you-can-eat take. The King of the Bottomless Brunches, if you will.

Prepare to forget your basic avocado toast, because you’ll receive no standard brunch, or even lunch, fare here. Instead, expect to see a full Italian feast fusing together all the favourites. Think garlic pizzettes alongside duck fat roast potatoes, tomato drenched spaghetti next to ricotta bruschettas, and crispy fried calamari — a never-ending stream of carby goodness. And to wash it all down, the SKYCITY eatery will be serving unlimited Ora Prosecco and Bellinis for some seriously fine imbibing.

Salted caramel popcorn semifreddo

Only available on Sunday’s, this reinvigorated take on the end of the week lunch serves up a ceaseless feast for two hours each sitting. Unfortunately, unless we can persuade them otherwise, this true bottomless experience is only available until the end of October — so we suggest you get in quick. To book, click here.

A Truly Bottomless Brunch at SKYCITY’s Gusto at the Grand is available every Sunday, from 30th September to 21st October, with two, two-hour sittings available at both 12pm-2pm and 1pm-3pm. Strictly R18. Host Responsibility limits apply to the service of alcohol. Gusto at the Grand complies with the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 and therefore enforces the responsible consumption of alcohol by all guests. Guests will not be served more than one alcoholic beverage at a time as part of the Bottomless Lunch package. Gusto at the Grand offers non-alcoholic beverages at all times and will stop service to any intoxicated persons. Bottomless Lunch package is valid for two hours and begins at the confirmed booking start time.

Gusto at the Grand

SKYCITY Grand Hotel
90 Federal Street

09 363 7030


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A stone bathtub is the stoic centrepiece your bathroom needs

Stones and crystals have long been lauded for their health-augmenting qualities, so it comes as no surprise that they’re making their way into our bathing routine. You could say that it all started with Yalong Bay’s pink bathtub that made the Internet swoon. Rendered entirely of vitreous pink onyx, its unique appearance was arguably second only to the perceived benefits of bathing in such an object. Said to soothe nervousness, anger and resentment, and aid in meditation and reflection, one was left to wonder why stone baths weren’t more commonplace.

Armadale Residence by B.E Architecture and the In-Out bathtub by Benedini Associati for Agape from Matisse

Now a fully fledged trend is positing mineral-rich materials as pivotal to the act of bathing. Whether cladding the exterior of a porcelain enamelled tub or constructing one entirely from marble, crystal, onyx or stone, all their glorious grains and idiosyncrasies are being employed as a bather’s new best friend.

Yalong Bay bathtub by Johannes Torpe Studios and Eclipse in Carrara Marble bathtub by Marco Di Paolo for Antoniolupi from Matisse

Decus Interiors used crema violet onyx in a Woollahra House (top image) to impose a point of difference in the typically white-washed ablutions area. Where marble and stone are not uncommon, using them to create a unique focal point with a contemporary twist can be the difference between a good and a great bathroom.


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Watch: the new trailer to acclaimed Kiwi film ‘She Shears’

A trailer has just been released for She Shears following its acclaimed premiere at the NZ International Film Festival. The local film will be released in cinemas nationwide on 11th October and is sure to steal the hearts and minds of all those who watch it. Following five passionate woman — two legendary shearers and three in the making — in their pursuit of black-shirt glory at the Golden Shears (international sharing champs) in Masterton, the story is exceptionally pieced together by the team who produced The Breaker Upperers. Putting New Zealand’s rural women in the spotlight and enshrining their incredible skill and work ethic, She Shears is a film not to be missed.


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Mint Cakery moves its cult baking operation from Point Chevalier to Ellerslie

I seldom have reason to visit Ellerslie proper, but if I did, Mint Cakery would almost certainly be my go-to coffee spot. There’s a bubbly, but not saccharine, sentiment emanating from behind the counter of the relatively simplistic space, where the owner and chief baker Michelle Bevan, along with her adept barista, happily look after the steady stream of customers at 9am on a Friday morning, her second day operating at the new Marua Road address.

And I’d be happy too if, at 25, I had achieved my goal of opening my own baking business as Bevan has done. Not only that, she also has a loyal patronage who will no doubt seek her out at the new digs. Bevan speaks matter-of-factly about her journey so far. She was based in Point Chevalier on the suburb’s eponymous road, but the premises were simply too small. After two and a half years, she found herself limited, by volume, in what she could make. Especially as her sensational doughnut offering really started to pop-off (if you haven’t tried her Boston Cream variety, you simply haven’t lived).

So, with that in mind she signed the lease for the Ellerslie locale, a former antique bookshop located cheek by jowl with the famous Mexican Specialties restaurant. Here, the space has been rendered fresh and minimalist with only a neon sign and few bits of greenery to detract from the cabinet of goodies. A pecan caramel cheesecake, apricot and caramelised white chocolate bowl cakes, and lemon and raspberry meringue doughnuts entice from within, rearranged at a steady pace as various customers are plated up their treat of fancy.

Open from Monday through Saturday, “we’ll be using the space for cake decorating classes on Sundays,” says Bevan, letting us know that the first of which will be held on October 14th. She’s also opening her doors for private events like baby showers and hens do’s. When I ask about the fate of her Pt Chev clientele, she says all is not lost. Her partner, who runs Remuera’s Table Talk, has opened a second outpost where the old Mint Cakery used to be.

As she sets about expanding her horizons in a moderate and genuine way, we wholly suggest dropping by and saying hello to this new Ellerslie resident. With something for everyone, unless, of course, you don’t have a sweet tooth, Mint Cakery is the friendly new neighbour you didn’t know you needed.

Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday, 8am to 3.30pm

Mint Cakery

92D Marua Road


Giveaway: Celebrate every moment with G.H. Mumm and win a milestone-worthy meal with a bottle of Grand Cordon Rosé

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Spice up your life with these turmeric laden skincare products

Once only known for its culinary qualities — its ability to elevate a curry is unparalleled — the herbaceous plant turmeric has since barrelled over onto our wellness radar, enhancing our skincare regimes thanks to its wondrous antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Shifting the spice from your pantry to your bathroom cabinets will serve well for those who experience everything from rosacea and eczema to acne, where the curcumin compound found in turmeric fights off pimple-producing bacteria.

Still not sold? The multifaceted orange powder may just be the new fountain of youth — the spice has been proven to protect against the ageing effects of the sun and wrinkle-inducing free-radicals. From a relaxing face mask to a simple moisturiser, here we’ve scouted out the best skin care products for every step of your regime.

The Mask: Kora Organics Turmeric Brightening & Exfoliating Mask
Organic turmeric, papaya enzymes, aspen bark, rosehip and peppermint join forces to create the ultimate skincare A-team. Their combined properties refine tone and texture, brighten, deeply detox the pores and promote skin cell renewal.

The Serum: Dr. Dennis Gross Triple C Peptide Firming Serum
Dr Dennis Gross combines three forms of Vitamin C with peptides and the magic orange ingredient to create a serum that rebuilds collagen and promotes skin repair. Simply apply 2-3 drops every morning and night, gently massage into the skin and let the blend work its magic.

The Moisturiser: Clarins Daily Energiser Cream
A wholly refreshing and lightweight moisturiser, Clarins’ Daily Energiser cream provides an energizing effect while diminishing minor imperfections, thanks to its unique blend of turmeric, vitamin C and alchemilla extracts.

The Oil: RMS Beauty, Beauty Oil
Comprising jojoba seed oil, turmeric and vanilla extract with a deluge of other nourishing exotic oils and herbal extracts, its this beauty oil from RMS that really serves as an all-natural beauty must-have a formula which helps skin appear fuller, plumper and more radiant looking.

The Toner: Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner
Perfect for those with sensitive, issue prone skin, this cooling gel mixes cucumber, turmeric, witch hazel and green tea to create the ultimate soothing formula. The gel, which melts into a water toner upon being massaged into the skin, additionally works as the perfect primer, mattifying skin and giving a longer life to your foundation.


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Why Prada’s Milan runway is how we should all be dressing for summer

Last night in Milan, Prada sent a sateen-clad set down its SS19 runway with a collection that explored the dichotomy of conservative versus liberal, wrapping the two ideas seamlessly into looks that were apparently designed to reflect our conflicted times. And while this brand is renowned for pushing boundaries, often playing with the idea of ugliness as a covetable quality, the collection felt inherently refined. Granted, Miuccia Prada still managed to straddle (as she does so expertly) the line between gawkiness and elegance with adroit precision. Iconic Prada motifs in the forms of clashing prints, utilitarian details and distinctly sporty touches kept each look grounded in the identity of the brand while the knee-high socks, mini dresses and Bermuda shorts were giving us in the Southern Hemisphere some serious inspiration for our imminent summer wardrobes. This is why we should be taking some of our warm-weather style cues from Prada’s runway.

Bermuda shorts seem to be coming through as this season’s answer to summer pants. We’re talking any iteration of a short that is a) not fashioned from denim, b) tailored and c) slightly longer than the cutoffs we’re all used to donning when the weather heats up. Dispell any ideas that this style is reserved for hiking fanatics and kindly aunts, if Prada’s variations are anything to go by, the formal short can be elegant, flattering and add a sense of refinement to summer getups. Pair with a relaxed T-shirt, a slinky singlet or loose billowy short for the ultimate out-of-office look.

The perfect summer dress seems to have materialised in the form of Prada’s thinly-strapped, A-line mini. A reminder that summer dresses need not be frilly, emblazoned in florals or bohemian, this sleek piece is the kind of throw-on thing we covet in our neverending search for ‘ease’ when it comes to warm-weather dressing.

Headbands, continuing their takeover of fashion’s fiercest heads, are standing out as the ultimate accessory for summer. While Prada’s distinctly thick iterations were bold and statement-making (which is an excellent option if you wish to evoke a kind of modern-1960s-sweetness), headbands in any form will stand you in good stead when it comes to days spent at the beach, not to mention unruly summer hair and the kind of devil-may-care attitude we all inevitably end up with during the silly season.

Sheer is here to stay, it seems, with the translucent trend appearing on a number of runways across fashion month so far. Prada’s see-through, knee-high socks, for instance, were one example of how sheer detailing can add intrigue to a look, especially when paired with a mini hemline. Chiffon skirts and translucent dresses also offered inspiration for summer evenings, allowing the wearer to reveal just enough…

Tie-dye, before you avert your eyes in disgust, might just be making a comeback. Featuring the print typically associated with hippie culture and 60s rebellion on a number of dresses and skirts, Prada eased us into the idea that perhaps the pattern could undergo a chic reimagining. And while we’re not quite ready to rush headlong into this one, we’re open to adding it to the summer wardrobe —  in moderation.


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Opinion: The real reason why food bags just don’t work for some households

I thought I was the perfect candidate for a meal kit. I live in a household with three other 30-somethings. We all work full-time. We love food and enjoy cooking. But, we are dreadful at meal planning (we don’t ever seem to know what lies ahead ‘this week’) and if we do pull off a weekly shop, there is always food that ends up in the bin. We eat takeaways more than we would like to (it does help that we own Bird On A Wire) and we certainly don’t have more than, say, an hour, to cook each evening after we’ve lapped up some Auckland traffic and walked the dog. We’re health conscious, environmentally conscientious and keen to learn new things.

But it didn’t work for me — and initially, I couldn’t put my finger on why. I won’t leave you hanging for too long, but first I’m going to throw it back two million years…

According to Richard Wrangham, cooking with fire allowed us to evolve into the species that we are today — both physiologically (the way our bodies have evolved) and sociologically (where did you think all that dinner table conviviality came from?). So, if cooking with fire got us to where we are now, what has cooking become?

I hate to let you down gently, but after a whole lot of research, I’m unable to define cooking in the modern sense. This is because it means so many different things to so many different people. Is it cooking when you heroically tear the vacuum seal off some pre-cooked rice and zap it in the microwave? Or are you only really cooking when you perfect ravioli stuffed with 12-hour lamb, from scratch? Despite my difficulty in finding a definition, the thing that resonated with me the most was something restaurateur and founder of food waste social enterprise Everybody Eats, Nick Loosley, wrote: “in our society, in 2018, cooking has largely been surrendered to convenience.”

Perhaps, it’s more relevant to ask not what cooking is, but why we cook? My sister cooks complicated and time-consuming feasts for the people she loves as an expression of that love, my father cooks whole flounder for lunch at the weekends because it relaxes him, my husband cooks many a ‘dish du jour’ because he likes the challenge of creating something from the diversity of what’s in the pantry, my mother cooked osso buco and boeuf bourguignon my whole childhood as a means of gathering and entertaining the village that raised us. What I’ve learned, is that I cook to create, to suit a mood, to satisfy a hankering, to be in the moment.

But it seems unlikely that the masterminds behind My Food Bag were asking themselves why we cook when they were brainstorming the strategy for one of New Zealand’s great business success stories. My guess is that they saw a problem to be solved in the fact that home cooking has been in decline since the beginning of the 20th Century, but evidence still shows that the majority of the time, most of us still eat home cooked food. Said masterminds were more likely asking why don’t we cook?

I asked Facebook why we don’t cook and the response was predictable. Kids don’t like adult food which takes the fun out of dinner, people with demanding jobs don’t have time, fitspo people would rather use that time to exercise, some of us don’t know how to cook, plenty of us are sick of cooking, people that live alone don’t want to cook for just themselves and many parents consider cooking a chore.

When we don’t cook (or plan our meals or shop for them), we tend to eat less nutritious food, more processed food, and larger portions. So unsurprisingly, we are also, as a race, getting more and more overweight. As food writer Michael Pollan put it, “there eventually came a moment when, propelled by the logic of human desire and technological progress, we began to over process certain foods in such a way as to actually render them detrimental to our health and wellbeing”.

You only need to consult Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for evidence that our culture is seemingly obsessed with food, but curiously, this doesn’t mean that we’re cooking more or eating better. In fact, at exactly the same time we began to leave the kitchen we started watching more cooking on television and the trend has followed ever since.

So fast forward to the year 2018, and here we are — living in a food-obsessed society that has surrendered to convenient ‘cooking’, but is getting less healthy by the minute. The solution? Meal kits. Convenience cooking for the masses. Win! And my goodness have they won.

No one is going to disagree with me that meal kits have revolutionised the way many New Zealanders eat. They are much better for us than a packet of two minute noodles, they teach (or at the very least maintain) essential cooking skills that allow us the freedom to choose what we eat, they reduce domestic food waste (one of the biggest problems in our broken food system), they are financially predictable, and they introduce us to ingredients we would otherwise not eat and recipes we would otherwise not cook. I take my hat off to them.

So why didn’t it work for me? It stole my favourite part of cooking. It was like driving an automatic car, doing long division on a calculator, completing a paint-by-numbers illustration. I felt disconnected from what I was doing when I cooked from a meal kit. I lost control. I was blindly following instructions, unaware of what the finished product would feel, look or taste like until it was right in front of me on the table. It took the magic away from cooking that I didn’t even know I needed. I can’t cook mindfully and do Nadia proud at the same time, I just can’t.

Granted, I don’t always have the time or energy to do long division (refer to the earlier takeaway confessions) but does anyone else remember how good it felt to toil away at a long division equation until it got smaller and smaller, before gloriously spitting out the answer you’d been waiting for? I’ve always laughed when manual drivers talk about “really driving the car”, but I think I get it. I like being the Manager of what’s in my fridge, the CEO of what the best value veg is this week and the President of ‘What Do I Feel Like For Dinner?’.

For me cooking isn’t just fundamental and functional, it’s more than that. It’s emotional, it’s creative, it’s visceral, it’s sensory. It starts when I assess how I feel and plan what I will cook, it continues when I choose all my ingredients at the supermarket and it ends when I take my last mouthful — ideally surrounded by great people. Organic agriculture guru Martin Crawford looks at food through the allegory of Heidegger’s hammer — if we are to truly get to know something, we must handle it rather than contemplate it from a distance.

Cooking is connecting with food on a sensory level; it’s really driving the car and working through that long division. It’s my hammer, and I’ll handle it if I want to. I’m grateful to Nadia for helping me figure this all out. Now, I’m off to pour myself a glass of wine, to make more time to cook, plan my meals for the week, and enjoy each one. Wish me luck!


Giveaway: Celebrate every moment with G.H. Mumm and win a milestone-worthy meal with a bottle of Grand Cordon Rosé

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Left to Right: The orgy of mushrooms at Gusto at the Grand and a selection from Huami

Denizen’s Editor-in-Chief provides an insider’s guide to SKYCITY’s eateries

Since my husband and I first met, some eight-odd years ago, we’ve been frequent visitors to SKYCITY for the food. So frequent, in fact, that we know the valet parking attendant by name. Navigating your way through the plethora of options can be no easy task, however, as someone who has legitimately put in the time — time and time again — I feel somewhat qualified to arm you with some purpose-driven advice on dining in the precinct.

Gusto at the Grand Sunday night family dinner
On Sunday evenings, we make like the Italians and gather together a group of friends or family to transport our taste buds to Italy. Our order remains the same every time we visit; starting with scampi crudi and octopus carpaccio, followed by the aptly named ‘orgy of mushrooms’ with ricotta gnocchi, a vongole of Cloudy Bay clams with spaghetti and chilli, and the not-to-be-missed veal Milanese. This is as close as you’ll get to authentic Italian food this side of the equator.

Huami — When we’re feeling the effects of the night before
Nothing beats dumplings when you’re down in the dumps, and Huami’s renditions are spot on. While you’ll still find the likes of har gau on the menu, it’s the more adventurous flavours with crab and chestnut that we crave. Not for the faint of heart, nor vegetarians, is the expertly prepared Peking duck. My kids get an absolute kick out of seeing them transported from their fate in the drying room, to having their heads ceremoniously chopped off before being delivered to the table replete with pancakes. I challenge you to find a better duck in town.

A selection from MASU by Nic Watt’s Nichiyo brunch


MASU by Nic Watt — Sunday brunch with the children in tow
A long-standing favourite, on Sunday’s we take the kids for their popular Nichiyo brunch. From 11am until 3pm, the kids can enjoy a bento box with all the beloved Japanese delicacies while my husband and I gorge ourselves on the endless supply of sushi, sashimi and small dishes on offer at the robata counter. It’s a pretty relaxed environment, where the kids spend most of their time in the private dining room that is converted into a dedicated playroom for the cherubs to enjoy while the adults savour every moment of their sanity.

Left to Right: The preparation of the steak tartare at The Grill by Sean Connolly and The wild shot venison from The Sugar Club

The Grill by Sean Connolly
When the husband needs to feel some love
Sean Connolly’s celebrated steakhouse is always high on my husband’s dining agenda. While it’s kind of a no-brainer that most men like their meat, I have to say that the deliciously prepared tender cuts are equally appealing to this gal. Dining here always kicks off with the steak tartare, prepared to our liking at the table, and the spicy, fresh scampi sashimi. The main event typically involves the Florentine T Bone for two — you just can’t beat the tenderness of meat cooked on the bone — served with ample (read: far too many) sides including, mac ‘n’ cheese, onion rings and creamed spinach.

The Sugar Club When we want to feel good about living in Auckland
There’s no doubt that the view from this elegant 53rd-floor restaurant has the wow factor, but new Executive Chef Josh Barlow has been stealing the limelight with his innovative and inspiring cuisine. It’s hard not to be romanced by Barlow’s passion, commitment and enthusiasm for his work. Foraging many of the more peculiar items on the menu himself, Barlow is known to go bush on Saturday mornings, deep into the Waitakere Ranges in search of wild garlic, or the fallen bark that he uses to adorn the plates for presentation. The Sugar Club, under Barlow’s deft palate, delivers the type of innovative cuisine that beautifully harnesses the iconic flavours of New Zealand. The likes of the wild shot venison, and Perigord truffles harvested from Yaldhurst in Canterbury, served with a delicate chicken custard, are treated with the sort of respect that doesn’t distract from the taste that nature intended. A visit to The Sugar Club is a gastronomic journey of discovery into our country’s cuisine.


Giveaway: Celebrate every moment with G.H. Mumm and win a milestone-worthy meal with a bottle of Grand Cordon Rosé

Looking for the perfect summery dessert centrepiece? Try a magnificent gelato cake from Island Gelato Company

Green Door Pizza, a deliciously authentic new pizzeria, opens in Commercial Bay

4 upcoming exhibitions that are worth booking a plane ticket for

With culture-based trips rising in the travel trend ranks and a litany of excellent exhibitions constantly unfolding globally, we figure it makes sense to check out what’s happening in galleries and studios around the world before booking your next plane ticket.

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Egon Schiele at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
Exactly which of the famed American artist’s artworks will be showing at this hotly anticipated showcase, opening in early October, is still largely under wraps, but one thing for sure is that it’s set to be an exhibition like no other. Various collectors including Bernard Arnault have been shoulder-tapped to present their privately-owned pieces for a gargantuan showcase of 120 of Basquiat’s works that will be installed across the building’s four levels. Showing at the same time will also be 120 works from the seminal Viennese artist, Egon Schiele, whose explicit pieces were truly audacious during the artist’s heyday in the early 1900s. From 3rd October 2018 to 14th January 2019.

Virgil Abloh at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
This will be the first exhibition dedicated solely to the multi-faceted work of the Off-White creator (the first luxury fashion brand designed and owned by an African American) and now Men’s Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton. The show will offer an in-depth look at the Chicago-based artist’s ever-expanding repertoire, spanning fashion, architecture, music and design. Abloh’s designs will be displayed on mannequins alongside video documentation of his most iconic shows and work for Kayne West’s creative team. From 11th J

Natasha Wright at L’Estudio, New York
Okay, Miss Wright might not have quite the same gravitas as Basquiat, but she’s a Kiwi artist cutting her teeth in the New York art world and her works are demanding attention for it. Her upcoming show, Les Biches, takes inspiration from Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles D’Avignon’, yet it represents the female experience in a way that the Spaniard’s work never did. The show presents a varied collection of abstract works that reclaim and honour the female gaze; “Vulnerability and control, seduction and aggression, the political and the personal, these dualities create the dynamics of my paintings which are alive and questioning” Wright says. Les Biches will be showing at L’Estudio, 61 Hester Street, September 19-23, 11-6pm daily.

Museum of The Moon at Scienceworks, Melbourne
Over the coming years, Museum of the Moon will be presented in art exhibitions, science, music and light festivals around the world, but most notably at Scienceworks in Melbourne. As the artwork tours, new audio compositions will be created and performed by a range of established composers and musicians, adding to the Museum of the Moon collection. 1st December 2018 – 28th April 2019


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