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West End Public Art

Melbourne’s west end is dominated by courts, the lawyers offices, the associated lunch and coffee places; it is not an area of the city that I regularly explore as both street art and art galleries are rare in the area. However, this year I have been in the area as I have been covering the Paul Yore trial. I did find some street art off Healeys Lane, a large stencil work by E.L.K. and some paste-ups by Sunfigo and there are a few public sculptures by Paul Montford, Andrew Rodgers, Tom Bass and Robert Juniper.

E.L.K., You are free...

E.L.K., You are free…

Flagstaff Gardens is like a suburban park in the city, the children’s playground, the adult’s playground (tennis courts and bowls), the residual base of small bandstand and the expanse of lawn. Its hill no longer affords much of a view but there is a Gothic revival sandstone obelisk monument to estimated six pioneers who were buried at its summit,  in 1871 the Department of Public Works then commissioned Samuel Craven, one of the stonemasons who campaigned for an eight hour day, to carve a memorial to mark the site of what was once called Burial Hill. Paul Montford’s bronze sculpture The Court Favourite stands further down the hill near the tennis courts.

Andrew Rodgers, City Living, 1996

Andrew Rogers, City Living, 1996

Andrew Rogers City Living, 1996 is a series of bronze figures of naked men, women and a baby rising up on hemisphere fans of bronze are up on a plinth. It is a kind of modern vision of escaping to an abstract spirit. Central Equity Homes commissioned the sculpture in June 1995 and donated it to the city in 1996. The sculpture is sort of hidden away a little way down Jeffcott Street; I saw it from the hill of Flagstaff Gardens.

Andrew Rogers, Rhythms of the Metropolis,

Andrew Rogers, Rhythms of the Metropolis,

There is another sculpture by Rogers nearby on the Queen and Lt. Bourke Streets, Rhythms of the Metropolis and more recent sculptures by him in the Docklands. Roger has a diverse sculptural practice from these modern bronzes to his gigantic dry stone wall land-art in desert locations around the world, his “geoglyphs”.

Tom Bass, Transportation, 1963-64

Tom Bass, Transportation, 1963-64

High on the wall of 160 Queen Street is Transportation 1963-64 by Sydney sculptor, Tom Bass. The figure with aeroplane wings stands in a boat triumphantly holds aloft a wheel, perhaps representing modern transportation. The form of the figure resembles a secular crucifix, this is modernism looking back to the ancient ways of representing ideas. In the niche beneath the sculpture is a small circle of benches and wheelchair ramp.

Robert Juniper, “Shadow Form III", 1988

Robert Juniper, “Shadow Form III”, 1988

BHP House at 140 William St. was constructed between 1967 – 1972 and added Robert Juniper’s Shadow Form III out the front in 1988. Shadow Form is steel simplified organic form, a clump of steel plants amidst the glass and steel canyons of Melbourne’s central business district. The steel sculpture is appropriate for a steel framed building and for the former headquarters of the steel producer. The plinth provides seating mostly used by office workers eating their lunch.

What once was the centre of the city in the colonial days when the city’s focus was on the port and there was a flagstaff in Flagstaff Gardens. Now the old colonial stone buildings like the Langdon Buildings from 1863 abut modern buildings of glass and steel. The life has been slowly drained from the area. Melbourne has since looked south, north and east and real estate agents describe the area as ‘on Melbourne’s doorstep’ in billboard advertising for empty office buildings. There is the city’s first cathedral, St. James from 1839 with it odd octagonal top to the spire, surrounded by an old iron fence (although it would be a mistake to image that this is its original location, it was moved there in 1913-14). Further down the road there are the three spires of the theatre restaurant, Witches in Britches.

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About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

8 responses to “West End Public Art

  • dishboydreaming

    Don’t forget the ‘Lady of Justice’ on the front of the Victorian County Court. This recognizable sculpture was launched with the new court buildings in 2002. Architect Daryl Jackson designed the building and commissioned the artworks inside – by Judy Watson, Colin Lanceley and the relief sculpture outside by William Eicholtz.
    The Victorian County Court provide a good pdf of information on these artworks here at
    https://www.countycourt.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/forms/artworks_ccv.pdf

    • Mark Holsworth

      I shouldn’t have forgotten because I did look at ‘Lady of Justice’, wondered who made it and then failed to think about it any more. I wouldn’t have guessed that it was by William Eicholtz. Thanks for pointing that out.

    • dishboydreaming

      It was actually a very interesting commission that involved the artist negotiating between the architect and Chief Justice Strong of the County Court, both of whom had very clear ideas about an image they wanted to represent ‘Justice’. Believe me, you could not have had two more divergent concepts, but I am very happy with the result, and I know the Court are happy with the artwork too. They are now using that image of Lady of Justice as letterhead for all court correspondence .

      Id be happy to tell you about the negotiations and how we arrived at a suitable artwork that captures classical imagery without losing the context of a thoroughly contemporary building.

  • Mark Holsworth

    Yes, that would be an interesting lesson in how Justice is officially seen to be portrayed. (I replied to your first comment without realising who you were.)

  • Westendart

    Dark Horse Experiment is also a short walk away from Flagstaff Gardens (110 Franklin Street), just down from the Queen Vic market. The alley next to Dark Horse Experiment is covered in street art that stands up against more well known street art sites in the city such as Hosier Lane. There’s actually quite a few small galleries around this area – apart from Dark Horse Experiment, there’s also the Guilford Lane galleries (off Queens Street) – Utopian Slumps and opposite, the Guilford Lane Gallery.

  • Westendart

    And don’t forget “Island Wave” by Lisa Young, located on the large roundabout near to the Queens Vic markets, cnr Franklin and Queen Streets.

  • Writing about Justice | Black Mark

    […] Court Building in Melbourne. I had neglected to mention it in my rough survey of public art in my blog post on Melbourne’s west […]

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