The solution to the recurrent vandalism of the Moreland Sculpture Show in previous years has been found with a change of the location from Coburg Lake Reserve to Bridges Reserve. This along, with the threat of video cameras watching the sculpture reported in the Moreland Leader, has allowed even some fragile sculptures to survive, so far unscathed.
The sidewalks of the park are covered with stencil painted signs announcing the show; showing the extensive influence of stencil art on Melbourne.
The theme of the show is “the future is now.” Given the threat of global warning this was interpreted by most of the artist as an environmental concern. Recycling is a dominant theme of the show; 9 of the 19 artists used recycled material in their sculptures. The use of recycled steel by Mark Cowie in “The Kneeling Square” or Kelly-Ann Lees “Totem After Kippel” demonstrate that good non-figurative public sculpture can be made from recycled materials. Tanja George’s “Tur Door: Please Open”, uses recycled steel in the tradition of Ernst and Picasso’s sculptures transforming these found materials into a figure.
Bonnie Lane took the use of recycled materials to an interesting extreme with her work “All You Need”. Lane found all she needed on the streets of Moreland, obviously making good use of the recent hard rubbish collection. She found enough for a home, well, a letter box, front door, chairs, coffee table etc. And she arranged this as a home behind the wire fence at the back of the pool to surreal effect.
Not all of the sculptures with an environmental theme were made of recycled materials. One of the best sculptures in the show is Jim Howson’s “In need of reversal”, showed a historical view of the local environment in a series of four elegant eucalyptus leaf forms in steal and wood. Candy Stevens went further on the environmental theme creating a living sculpture of grass, titled prosaically “Keep Off the Grass”.
With all of the sculptures on environmental themes or using recycled material it is important to note that there were other good sculptures. Paul Allen’s impressive “Mandala #3” a rather two-dimensional sculpture of milled steel painted red, yellow and black that transforms the view of the park when you look through it. And, David Marshall’s “Quinta Essentia” of stone and steel makes a hero of the humble paperclip without looking like a Claus Oldenburg.
Some of the sculptures would be better suited to private or smaller gardens, like Liz Walker’s “Shop Till You Drop” (I last saw it in a gallery but it looks even better out in a garden with a small tree growing in it). Yoshi T. Machida’s “Where to?” would look great in a smaller intimate garden; it looks like a large bird with elegant curving metal legs and body of wood and stone.
Melbourne needs more public sculptures especially in the suburbs and it is good to see so many strong works in this year’s Moreland Sculpture Show. I hope that other city councils follow Moreland’s example.