Melbourne has an impressive number of sculptures on public display throughout the city. Just wander Melbourne’s city streets, gardens and laneways and you will undoubtedly find some magnificent public sculptures – from historical and religious icons to playful literary and social figures – all with rich historical weight.
The book Sculptures of Melbourne explores major changes in the nature of public sculpture. When Melbourne was established, sculpture was heavily influenced by the colonial legacy of neo-classical bronze and marble statues. From 1980 onwards, public sculpture changed dramatically, not only in style but in materials, location and sheer numbers.
This book, which includes controversial modernist sculptures such as ‘The Yellow Peril’ as well as unofficial laneway installations, tells the story of how the shifting trends in public sculpture moved from a classical style, to commemorative, to a corporate modernist style, to being integrated into urban design, and finally evolving into a contemporary style, which is non-traditional and temporary.
Critics have unanimously hailed Melbourne’s collection of sculptures as notable narratives of place and time, which whilst stylistically different, have also established specific reference points and provided a rich reflection of the history of the city. These sculptures have come a long way from serving their decorative and utilitarian functions in the 1800s, to now embedding a strong historical beauty that is both permanent and ephemeral.
The author Mark S. Holsworth is a writer, art critic and artist who lives in Melbourne, Australia. He has written plays, short stories and a long-running blog: Black Mark – Melbourne Art & Culture Critic. He studied philosophy and art history at Monash and Latrobe universities and has exhibited in several Melbourne galleries.
Sculptures of Melbourne is published by Melbourne Books. For more information, visit: www.melbournebooks.com.au for details.
Image: Sculptures of Melbourne by Mark S. Holsworth