Grounded for MND

By Anna Webster

6 Feb, 2023

Grounded for MND is a photography exhibit and dining event series running in Melbourne from February 20–26 to raise funds for motor neurone disease.

In January 2022, Sofia Levin, a well-known and much-loved member of Melbourne’s food and drinks writing community, found out her dad, Greg, had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND).

MND is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells that enable us to walk, talk, swallow and breathe. While the speed at which MND progresses varies for each person, the disease is life-shortening and there is currently no cure.

To celebrate Greg – a former doctor and passionate photographer and traveller – and to raise money for local charity MND Victoria, Sofia is putting on an exhibition of Greg’s photographic works. Grounded for MND will run from February 20-25 at the No Vacancy Gallery in Melbourne’s QV. 

Stars over UluruPhotography by Greg Levin.

“The paradox is that while the exhibit showcases my travels, since being diagnosed with motor neurone disease, I have been quite literally grounded,” says Greg. “There are many things I can no longer do independently, including my life-long love of photography. Learning to accept this diagnosis is a difficult and humbling experience, but the title of the exhibition also references the silver lining of my journey – the support of my family, friends and MND Victoria, which has indeed kept me grounded.” 

Alongside the exhibition, Sofia has organised a series of food and wine events with the help and support of some industry friends. All proceeds from artworks and event ticket sales will be donated to MND Victoria.

On Monday February 20, chefs Tom Sarafian (ex-Bar Saracen) and Mischa Tropp will cook Armenian barbecue and masala dosa in the Jane Bell laneway of the No Vacancy Gallery for the exhibition’s opening night. There will also be piles of Pafritas Spanish potato crisps dolloped with Sarafian toum and Yarra Valley Caviar, as well as a bar slinging Four Pillars G&Ts, KAIJU! Beer and MDI and Quealy wines. Entry to the event is free, but you need to register your attendance here.

Four kids and a white cowPhotography by Greg Levin. 

Then, on Saturday February 25, five of Melbourne’s best chefs (Ross Magnaye from Serai, Etta’s Rosheen Kaul, Embla’s Dave Verheul, Jerry Mai of Bia Hoi and Pho Nom, and Tom Sarafian) will gather at No Vacancy for the #GroundedforMND Chef’s Dinner. The dinner costs $240pp and includes five courses plus drinks from Four Pillars, Saison Aperitifs, KAIJU! beer and The Spanish Acquisition wines. Book here.

And on Sunday February 26, the gallery will host a caviar and yum cha banquet by Old Beijing restaurant. Expect dishes such as black truffle xiao long bao, peking duck, seafood lobster ma po tofu and DIY Beijing-style shredded pork with fluffy steamed bao buns – all supplemented with tins of Yarra Valley Caviar. The banquet costs $188 and includes matched wines from Four Pillars and Mac Forbes, plus bubbles and dessert wine from StockonHand and KAIJU! beers. Book here.

Finally, anyone who makes an additional $2 donation at any time during the exhibition’s six days will go into the draw to win a gourmet weekend away in the Yarra Valley for two worth $2500. This includes a two-night stay at the magical Kangaroo Ridge Retreat, dinner and a wine tasting at Jayden Ong’s Winery & Cellar Bar, a set menu with matched wines at TarraWarra Estate, another at Heartswood, lunch at Lulu’s Burgers and a Four Pillars immersive makers session. Either visit No Vacancy throughout the week or add the donation to an artwork, event ticket or food or drink purchase during #GroundedForMND.

Umbrellas at Shibuya Crossing, TokyoPhotography by Greg Levin. 

Grounded for MND 
Showing at No Vacancy Gallery Feb 20 to 25, 2023 
34-40 Jane Bell Lane (off Russell Street) 
Level 3, QV Building, VIC 
Open Mon-Wed 8am-4pm; Thu-Fri 8am-5pm; Sat 10am-4pm