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Panic Room Gallery

Pop-up exhibition space

Tucked in behind our house in the old nightman's alleyway was a space we lovingly referred to as Panic Room. A small hidden space where during lockdowns the inhabitants of our house could get some space, where our worms quietly burrowed through food scraps and bikes slowly rusted. With a little love, some weeding and a lick of paint, Panic Room acquired ‘Gallery’ to the end of its title.

Panic Room was born out of a desire to make creative spaces that feel welcoming and accessible to all viewers and makers, showing that art can and should be for everyone, whether or not you feel like you’re a creative person. It was also a response to the pressures experienced by the arts sector over Melbourne’s long lockdowns in providing a free space (no technically belonging to anyone), and a desire to continue connecting with our neighbours and friends and do so in a spontaneous and creative way.

As an outdoor space, Panic Room was reliant on what the weather is doing, and how the old bricks n’ mortar hold up. It was reliant on friends, family, artists and those who are keen to help make something. This project simply aimed to connect as many people as it can, and championed the idea of what can be achieved when you work together with what you’ve got, while we had it.

In December 2022 Panic Room found itself a permanent home, grew a few more limbs and evolved into Nabe Studios.


See past events below


Tom Gilfillan & Jessica Chapman

Panic Room Presents: 'Pageantry' by Matt Benjamin


Pageantry’ showcased the quiet and elaborate ways in which we express identity through ceremony, adornment and decoration. Admiration or acceptance can be achieved in solitude or in company, and our modes of achieving it can often be at odds with perceived gender roles, age restrictions and social status. Tender and contemplative to garish and flashy - ‘Pageantry’ explored how these social structures can distort, stifle and exaggerate notions of pride, preciousness and self-love.

Matt Benjamin is a visual artist and writer based on Wurundjeri woi-wurrung Country. His painting, video-work, installation and writing is made with a reverence for practice and labour - an approach informed by Benjamin’s experience in viticulture. Matt views his role in the vineyard as not dissimilar to his role within his art practice, opting for an approach of nurturing and acceptance rather than that of control and self-governance.


Jessica Chapman & Daniel Schacher

Panic Room Presents: 'Hands on Isolation', A Group Show

‘Hands on Isolation’ is a group show, presenting a variety of work from eight local creatives, including oil paintings, illustrations, ceramics, flower arrangements and handmade bags. This body of works seeks to illustrate a shift in the Melbourne artscape that came about through lockdown; the resurfacing of craft and making with our hands.


It celebrates a visual language that was forged out of necessity allowing each maker to catch a break, enjoy and connect. At its simplest, ‘Hands on Isolation’ is art making peeled back down to its community roots where creating for one another was a way of connecting or holding space for those who weren’t physically close to us. 

With impending rain and over 60 pieces of work, our nightman's alleyway was too small and exposed to safely accommodate us. When a call-to-action was put out to our creative community, our friends at Testing Grounds kindly offered their temporary venue for the evening (a wonderfully derelict building owned by the City of Melbourne). 

Megan Cousins 

Jez Claridge

Alexandra Dolan 

Rose Gordon

Ash Dondio

Billie Barton

Ellen Kinnear

Alice Coates


Eden Taylor, Adena Lyndon, Jessica Chapman

Panic Room Presents: 'STI's I've Had: A Ceramic Exhibition to Queer Sexual Heath' By Raphy

'STI’s I’ve Had: A Ceramic Journey to Queer Sexual Health' is a collection of surrealist vessels that tell the story of Raphy’s experience accessing sexual health screening and treatment over the years. Inspired by the term ‘vessel’ to both refer to objects thrown on the wheel that carry water and also our bodies which carry disease and infections, the collection is a series of vessels that depict the various STI’s Raphy has encountered and are accompanied by a story for each.