Many thanks to arts writer Jane O’Sullivan for her excellent review of our ‘Melbourne Comes to Sydney’ show.

Her hands are curled with emotion and her eyes are half-closed, as though she’s in such turmoil she can barely see the world. David Rosetzky’s portrait of choreographer Shelley Lasica is a powerful study of the way emotion is carried in the body. It’s also a theatrical opening to an exhibition of 14 artists currently practicing in Melbourne. Some, like Rosetzky, are well-known but not regularly seen in Sydney. Others are earlier in their careers. It is a diverse group, but unexpected connections soon develop.

Hanging near Rosetzky’s Shelley is Kirsty Budge’s painting How could you do this to me question mark. It’s a psychological drama, dominated by a man with outstretched arms who looms over a tired-looking woman pocketed in the corner. Like Rosetzky, Budge is interested in lines of the body and what they say about inner states, but also in lines that emphasise, divide and intervene.

In a very different way, Lynette Smith’s video Birds (a fragment) also approaches the topic of isolation, but by using the motif of solitary birds in winter.

Other artists exhibited downstairs dance in and out of abstraction and figuration. Travis MacDonald’s painting The idiots study of sound shows sound rising and curling like smoke above the cymbal of a drum set. It’s a kind of garage band cover of Roy de Maistre, but focused not on colour but the texture and direction of the brushstrokes. It’s paired with a dreamy and menacing oil painting by Nicholas Ives, where details and edges seem to hover just out of focus.

Ali McCann’s Polytechnic works are playful explorations of form and colour, with geometric objects placed into constructed landscapes. In one, a bright orange cuisenaire rod stands on its end, mimicking the way a child might ignore the intended lesson of the object and just have fun with it instead.

Also downstairs is Ebony Truscott’s still life of a festival wristband with a buckled tealight candle and dog-eared stack of post-it notes. Truscott aims for realism, but her real interest is compulsion. By translating these objects into paint, Truscott heightens our sudden need to pull or flick or squish them. It’s like being reminded not to bite your nails.

From there, the exhibition moves upstairs to Emily Ferretti’s Curvy Tree, a gentle curve with crenelated branches and a subtle play with volume.

To one side, Guy Benfield’s untitled photo presents a wild night in with a plastic tub and a bottle of cheap wine. It’s printed on a white fold-up box, like a takeaway pizza, and encased in perspex.

Elvis Richardson also looks at the domestic in her photographs of forgettable interiors. By pairing them, Richardson draws our attention to a common detail, the pictures of women on the walls. These images within images then start to form a kind of double-exposure portrait of the people who once settled in these spaces.

Kenny Pittock also tackles the everyday with humorous sculptures of sugary treats, including a Sunnyboy ice block reworked to give it a little more emotional reality.

At the other end of the hall, there are four engraved glasses by Zilverster, the alchemical collaboration between Irene Hanenbergh and Sharon Goodwin, and a harmonious abstract painting by Rachael McCully-Kerwick.

Nearby, there’s an assemblage by Tia Ansell that reads like a moodboard cut from a home renovation magazine. Called Construere, it combines a piece of woven, plaid cloth with the kind of tiling you might find on a kitchen splashback of bathroom floor, putting these domestic materials into an abstract relationship with each other, structured by gridlines. Ansell seems to be building a language that moves between the architectural, archeological and anthropological. But whichever way round, Construere is a fascinating critique of boxed thinking and the shape and texture of contemporary life.

Jane O’Sullivan