“This nugget is a symbol of the dream common to all those who travelled along Sydney Road on their way to the Victorian gold fields.” The bronze plaque reads; unfortunately the bronze plaque look more golden than the pathetic green bronze lump bolted near the entrance to a carpark near Albion Street. The idea of casting a giant ‘nugget of gold’ in bronze is stupid and pointless as this public memorial that is almost hidden from view.
No one travels along Sydney Rd. to the Victorian gold fields now; the highway is a more direct route and the gold rush is history. Sydney Rd. is now a very long shopping strip from Brunswick to Coburg with cafes and restaurants serving food from around the world.
Each year the Moreland City Council and the local traders association has as community art exhibitions in the shop windows. This year it is called Window/Art. I have been in a few of the past exhibitions and seen others because I live in the area. They never really work either as community art exhibitions or as attractions for Sydney Rd shops. The problem is that Sydney Rd. is too long and the shops exhibiting work are spaced too far apart. The general amateur standard of art on exhibition does not attract much of an audience. There is nothing wrong with community art exhibitions but the amateur art on exhibition would be better in a local gallery rather than in a shop window amongst their window display. The gold ribbon frames taped to the shop windows did make the art more clearly identifiable but did look tacky and didn’t always frame the work.
I did not meticulously survey the first part of Window/Art between Victoria St. and Moreland Rd. but have seen it in parts as I went past in the tram or walking along a particular block while shopping. I had my lunch at Tabet’s Bakery for Lebanese pizzas: oregano, sesame seeds and fresh tomatoes and capsicum – a very tasty.
There are a few stand out pieces on exhibition, including: Ben Howe (who was highly commended in the Emerging Artist Award at Melbourne Stencil Festival), Rachael Miller (another artist who exhibited at the stencil festival), and Robert Waghorn, (whose sculpture I wrote about in Victoria St Mall Coburg) who is exhibiting two painted wooden sculptures in the window of the Edinburgh Castle Hotel. And at Gowns Evening Wear Ri Van Veen raku clay works are certainly in good taste; her “That’s a Wrap” is simple, elegant and effective. Gowns Evening Wear was involved in past window exhibitions and generally makes a good selection. (You would hope that the manager of a shop selling evening wear would have good taste in art, as well as, fashion).
However, the quality and quantity of street art along the Upfield railway line and bike path, that runs parallel to Sydney Rd., makes that my preferred local community visual art experience. But that is another story.