Seven new artist commissions have been announced for the 2018 iteration of Melbourne Art Trams, which will see eight trams transformed into public artworks as part of the visual arts program at the Melbourne International Arts Festival this October.
The public art project, which is in its sixth year, invites artists to propose a design inspired by Melbourne’s trams as a site for collective engagement throughout the city. Melbourne Art Trams is a revival and re-imagining of the seminal Transporting Art program which ran from 1978 to 1993 and resulted in 36 hand-painted trams being rolled out across the Melbourne network.
“Bringing these inspired designs to the streets of Melbourne is a highlight of the Festival’s free visual arts program and a fabulously fun way for millions of Melburnians and visitors to the city to become part of the Festival,” said Melbourne International Arts Festival Artistic Director, Jonathan Holloway.
For the first time, one of the eight designs unveiled in October, will be a recreation of an original Transporting Artwork, by the late expressionist painter David Larwill (1956 – 2011) – an Australian artist much celebrated for his bold colours, stylised figures and simplified form. In 1986 he was commissioned to paint one of Melbourne’s W-Class trams as part of the United Nations International Year of Peace.
For 2018, the original W Class tram, which has been in storage for more than 20 years, will be photographed and adjusted to fit a modern tram design, then printed on adhesive vinyl and applied to the tram. Larwill’s design will be showcased alongside seven new commissions from Victorian artists, including:
Hayley Millar-Baker – a Gunditjmara woman from south-west Victoria whose work draws upon personal and collective intergenerational narratives of Aboriginal experiences. Her tram design explores connection to Country, land, flora and fauna.
Nick Howson – an Australian painter and printmaker known locally for his iconic Tigerland mural at Richmond station. His design depicts the tram as a container of people, full of characters from all walks of life, who travel the city landscape together.
Oli Ruskidd – a street artist and muralist whose playful, psychedelic works illuminate Melbourne’s laneways. He uses bright colour with organic swirling patterns to create abstract creatures and hidden entities within his work. His design is inspired by the vibrant energy that Melbourne creates as a cultural and creative hub.
Oslo Davis – an artist and illustrator, his work appears regularly in The Monthly, Art Guide Australia, Meanjin and The Age newspaper, where his weekly Overheard cartoon has been published for more than ten years. His design celebrates swimming and connects the idea of a sea of people moving through the city with the image of swimmers moving through water.
Stephen Baker – a Melbourne based artist and muralist best known for his distinctive hand painted mural, Pool Parade, on the Fitzroy Swimming Pool building. His design is a geometric portrait of the city with figurative elements to represent people contributing their unique shape to Melbourne’s larger mosaic.
Troy Innocent – an artist and academic whose playful practice explores “urban codemaking” through graphic abstraction expressed as code in works of sculpture, animation, image, sound and installation. His interactive design reveals another layer of animation and sound when the passing tram is viewed from the camera of mobile phone using an augmented reality app.
Valerie Tang – a Year 9 highschool student from Mount Waverley whose design reflects Melbourne’s rich cultural diversity through vibrant colours and shapes.
“Each year our Melbourne Art Trams celebrate the talent, ideas and diversity of our local creative community, putting contemporary art on one of our city’s most prominent and unconventional canvases – trams,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley. “Congratulations to this year’s crop of artists, we’re looking forward to seeing these moving artworks hit the tracks and demonstrate once again why Victoria is the creative state.”
Melbourne Art Trams is made possible through a creative partnership between Melbourne International Arts Festival, Creative Victoria and Public Transport Victoria in collaboration with Yarra Trams.
The first tram will hit the tracks on 4 October with the other seven soon to follow and will remain on our streets until early 2019. A People’s Choice award will be announced following the release of the trams, with the public able to vote for their favourite tram and be in the running for great prizes. For more information, visit: www.festival.melbourne for details.
Image: David Larwill W Class Tram 722 circa 1986 – courtesy of Melbourne International Arts Festival