Sunday, 19 May 2013

Mutating blob

The latest installment in a series of temporary works adorning an empty plinth in the Edinburgh Gardens is a morphing blob by Sarah crowEST. The work is noted to be a 'suggestively human-proportioned mound'. One senses that Queen Victoria, a wooden image of whom graced the plinth in 1901, would not be amused.
 
The apparently un-named work is intended to 'mutate' over the 5 months that it is in place. Previous work by the artist has included waste materials clumped together to form organic blobs. We'll keep an eye on it between now and September and see what eventuates. 
 
For more details see www.plinthprojects.com.
 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

With and With Eachother, Footscray




With and With Eachother by American artist Tom Bills, sits in a small reserve on the busy Geelong Rd/Ballarat Rd intersection in Footscray. It is a bold concrete work that holds ground against the constant barrage of traffic and trucks. The pair of concrete forms look like lungs, or perhaps twins in-utero, which are not the kind of images that engender much public love. So it is not entirely surprising that the work has had its fair share of drama and controversy.

The work was created as part of an art event (Construction in Progress VI, The Bridge) in 1998 and was originally located in a roundabout near the Queen Victoria Market. It was apparenly only intended as a temporary work (despite weighing more than 50 tonnes) and it was removed in 2002 with just a little fanfare. The plaque on the site records that it was donated to Maribyrnong City Council by Melbourne City Council in 2008. This followed a public plea from Melbourne for someone to take it off their hands after 5 years in storage.

Has it found an appreciative audience in this new location? It certainly provides a strong visual contrast to the heritage listed gardens across the road, and adds some interest to a patch of grass that is too close to a busy road to host picnics or kite flying. The nearby Victoria University campus also draws many student pedestrians to the intersection, who may be more likely to appreciate the confronting nature of the work than the older residents of the area.

If you're looking for some uncompromisingly minimalist concrete sculpture, you know where to go.


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Mt Buller

Time to head to the mountains.  The Mount Buller Sculpture Park and Award is happening around Mt Buller until April 2013, featuring 22 works. Interestingly, the requirement that works be able to deal with the climatic extremes of the mountain location has limited the types of works presented. They are almost exclusively robust, static, sculptural pieces.

The winner has already been announced (Voyeur, by Louis Pratt). The cover photo is of Centripetal by Matthew Harding, which is part of this show, but was also installed at Lorne in 2011, which is where this photo was taken.


Monday, 11 February 2013

Big scribble

It sits on a sloping piece of land overlooking the bay with the Geelong waterfront in the back ground. I didn't visit intentionally - I was enjoying the water views and feeling uplifted after a walk through the beautiful Geelong Botanic Gardens. At first I thought it was some kind of race track. Go-karts or motorbikes perhaps? But they weren't white painted tyres, they were rocks. And edging a race track with rocks seems like a public liability nightmare. So I went for a closer look. I find a sign that expalins all. A 2006 'land art' work by Andrew Rogers. It's called Rythymns of Life. And in these days of easy access to aerial photography (Google Earth etc), I'm surprised that there haven't been more art projects like it. That said, the shape of the work viewed via aerial photography was a lot less interesting than the experience of the work on the ground. Fortunately, viewed from ground level the shape doesn't matter at all. It's all about the flowing lines of rocks interacting with the site contours.

The artist has done similar projects all over the world, including replicating the same shape in Antarctica, India, the USA and Israel.


Monday, 7 January 2013

Rubber ducky, you're the one

giant rubber duck recently sailed into Darling Harbour in Sydney. Rubber Duck, by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman was floated as a part of the Sydney Festival and is staying a month.

Rubber Duck has already made appearances around the world, including around Europe, in Japan, and New Zealand. Different sized ducks, ranging in size from 5 to over 20 metres high have been used in the different locations. The artist statement says:
The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn't discriminate people and doesn't have a political connotation. The friendly, floating Rubber Duck has healing properties: it can relieve mondial tensions as well as define them. The rubber duck is soft, friendly and suitable for all ages!


If the number of photos of the thing on the internet are anything to go by, it has attracted a lot more attention than your average art installation. I couldn't help but think that it's the kind of public art that the restauranteurs in Melbourne's Docklands really need. Gimmicky? Perhaps. But it is quirky and cute enough to draw a crowd, and it has a lot more cultural credibility than yet another round of fireworks (yawn).

Docklands is full of public art, but it doesn't create quite the same buzz or sense of occasion that a limited-time-only, come-and-see-it-or-you'll-miss-out event does. Compared to say Federation Square, which almost always has at least one quirky short-term installation in place. A whimsical building made of willow, last time I looked.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Aqualung

The National Australia Bank was one of the first companies to move into the newly developed Melbourne Docklands. As a counterpoint to their boxy building with rainbow stripes, the unboxy and not at all colourful Aqualung (John Meade, 2006) was installed in the ramped breezeway.

Apparently inspired by lung-like forms, the result bears a striking resemblance to a bone. One of the key successes of the form is the way it arches up and over the top of the ramp, disappearning over the horizon. Without Aqualung, the ramp would look like the architect had stuffed up the building entry levels. With the work, the space is the perfect setting.

More details about this and other works in the vicinity can be found in the 2010 Docklands Public Art Walk brochure.


Docklands Commune

It seems that while most of Melbourne has been moaning about how Docklands lacks atmosphere and soul, the people who live and work there have been getting on with life, happy for the unhappy masses to keep away! With the sun shining and lunch hour beckoning, the cafes and parks were bustling. And we happened across 'Commune', a temporary work (due to be removed after 16th December) by Andrew Atchison.

The black steel frame supports a rainbow of colourful dangling rope. The description of the work on the website of the artist (www.andrewatchison.com) talks about domestic bead curtains. I can see this retrospectively, but I wasn't drawn to walking through the curtain when I was there. Perhaps it is the 'don't touch the artwork' message that has been drummed into us all since a young age.  My connection with the work had more to do with trying to decode the rainbow colours (childhood wonder at a meteorological phenomenon, a reflection of the colourful facade on a nearby building, or statement of sexuality?), an interest in the use of soft materials in a public artwork (have people been tempted to alter the work through some guerilla plaiting?), and the vertical, angular nature of the work being in tune with the dominant surrounding building forms.