Public Art in Melbourne tour

21 May 2014

Category: Art, Art Lesson Plans

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Vault (AKA Yellow Peril). Artist: Ron Robertson Swann

Every year, the teachers at my school are given the opportunity to take a day out of our busy weeks to go on a Learning Walk. Teachers can decide where they’d like to go and what they’d like to do. The goal being to bring fresh new ideas from the wider world into our classrooms.

Blessed with the most gorgeous of Melbourne days, we set off on a walking tour of some of Melbourne’s iconic public art pieces. As we walked, snapping photos along the way, how we could turn this tour into a learning activity for our students began to develop. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of the Melbourne Public art walking tour we’re going to organise for our students. For now, here’s a list of the artworks we visited today and some info about them.

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Forward Surge. Artist: Inge King

Inge Kings’ best known sculpture is the monumental Forward Surge at the Melbourne Arts Centre. The sculpture was commissioned by the Victorian Arts Centre in 1974 and is located next to the Art Centre and Hammerhall Music Hall.
The four black pillars, are depicted as if they are forever rolling
forward towards the city of Melbourne. Inge King’s capture of a
positive forward motion can be seen in the many angles.

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Red Centre. Artist: Konstantin Dimopoulos

A bright red 7m x 2.5m x 2.3m pick up sticks like sculpture made from resin, steel mesh and concrete. The artist focuses primarily on colour, line and movement. The Red Centre lights up as night falls.

Red Centre was commissioned for Federation Square and is a permanent sculpture between the Main Square and the Yarra River. It provides a visual link between the top of River Terrace and the creative spaces of Birrarung Marr and ArtPlay.

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Angel. Artist: Deborah Halpern

The Picasso-inspired angel was created in 1983 by Debora Halpern in Warrandyte and took two years to complete. It stood in the moat of the National Gallery of Victoria for 15 years her magnificent presence acting as a guardian angel for the city.
The enormous sculpture was created from steel mesh and sprayed with expanding foam.

The shape was then carved and covered in a fiberglass skin. Ceramic tiles added the finishing touches. In 2002, Angel was re-sited on the banks of the Yarra at Birrarung Marr. She watches over the river, as the public is now able to view the angel from the ground up and appreciate her from all angles.

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Dervish. Artist: Clement Meadmore

‘Dervish’ was unveiled to the public on the upper terrace of the Melbourne Concert Hall in 1981, then in the early 1990s moved to its current location on the Southbank riverside promenade. Dervish, 1973-81, titled in reference to the dance of the ‘whirling dervishes’, was commissioned by the Building Committee of the Victorian Arts Centre in 1973.

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Shearwater. Artist: Inge King

The Shearwater sculpture by Inge King along the Southbank Promenade was commissioned by Esso Australia. It was installed in 1995. The sculpture is built in polychrome steel. The sharp lines along the wings of the sculpture capture a sense
of movement, like a bird in flight. The bold colours add identity to the
sculpture as one of the common shearwater birds in Australia, known as
the Short-tailed Shearwater.

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Ophelia. Artist: Deborah Halpern

For nearly 20 years Ophelia, has watched over the entrance to Southgate from her courtyard position at BearBrass. Once known as ‘the face of Melbourne,’ Ophelia was inspired by the character from Hamlet, full of both love and sadness.
The artist says Ophelia is the cousin of Angel, that lives upstream at Birrarung Marr. Together they bring life and humanity to the river.

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The Travellers. Artist: Nadim Karam

Melbourne is home to people from more than 140 countries. Located along the Sandridge Bridge on the Yarra River, ‘The Travellers’ was created by Lebanese artist Nadim Karam, along with City of Melbourne designers, in tribute to our multicultural heritage. The work includes 128 glass panels along the bridge, telling stories of the original Indigenous inhabitants and Melbourne’s many waves of migrants.

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Gayip. Artist: Nadim Karam

Gayip is the ceremonial meeting of the different Australian Aborigines clans, where they would interact with each other through stories, dance, storing telling. It was vital for many of their social traditions like marriage, trading, settling disputes etc. Gayip is also used to signify community or gathering.
The sculpture is part of the larger installation called the ‘Travellers’, featured above.

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The Guardians. Artist: Simon Rigg

Carved from Italian statuary marble and clad with ceramic tiles. The Guardians were created in 1997 by artist Simon Rigg and stand outside the eastern end of the Crown Entertainment Complex along the Southbank promenade.The smaller Guardian reveals a woman’s head looking through the hole of the larger sculpture, and hints at the source of all the images, beyond our plane of vision.

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Three Businessmen Who Brought Their Own Lunch: Batman, Swanston And Hoddle. Artists: Alison Weaver and Paul Quinn

The sculptors named the three businessmen after leading figures who established the city of Melbourne – Swanston (Charles) a prominent businessman and banker in Melbourne, Batman (John) who founded the first settlement in Melbourne and Hoodle (Charles), who designed the layout of the CBD of Melbourne, now called Hoodle Grid.

This whimsical, life-size sculpture of three businessmen carrying lunchboxes is located in the heart of Melbourne on the Corner of Swanston and Bourke Streets. Artist Alison Weaver claims that while the men are named and motionless, they are also intended to be anonymous and to represent being ‘trapped in the perpetual motion of consumerism’. Weaver figures these three Melbourne pioneers as ‘pedestrians of vast time’ who have returned to the city streets, and says her interpretation of them is mostly driven by humour.

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Public Purse. Artist: Simon Perry

In January 1994, the City of Melbourne called for design submissions for unique and distinctive forms of street seating. Simon Perry’s The Public Purse was one of the works selected. Located in the Bourke Street mall, in front of the GPO, it’s made from Calca red granite and stainless-steel. Public Purse engages with its environment through its clear reference to the commercial nature of the area and is often a resting place for tired shoppers.

Of course, there are hundreds more art pieces around Melbourne so it’s up to all of us to find them and appreciate how lucky we are to live with them in our glorious city.