A large field of sunflowers blooming on an industrial inner-Melbourne site is part of a living art installation by RMIT alumnus Ben Morieson.
The Fieldwork project next to Macaulay Station can be seen from Alfred St, North Melbourne, and is attracting much attention from curious onlookers who are pulling over from the nearby freeway to see the flower display.
Mr Morieson, a recent Master of Arts (Art in Public Space) graduate, is behind the colourful project, which aims to create a new way of looking at vacant urban sites.
When he saw that the empty land was accumulating debris, rubbish and weed, Mr Morieson obtained permission to plant the large crop of sunflowers there, right among the factories, apartment complexes and freeways.
His aim was to demonstrate the possibility of alternative land usage close to the CBD, to show that vacant sites around inner-city Melbourne could serve a purpose while they were in limbo.
"My art practice to date has used large scale installations to set up ambiguous situations within the public domain," he said.
"I wanted to 'colour' the landscape and flowers seemed to fit the criteria for a temporary solution.
"I wanted to show that communities could engage with public art and contribute to the process of realising it, and Fieldwork was an experiment to gauge public responses to these ideas."
Mr Morieson's art project idea was enhanced by a trip to Havana in 2012, to look at Organiponicos - inner-city community market gardens - where he was struck by the Cubans' efficient use of organic urban agriculture.
He said RMIT's Art in Public Spaces program, which explores art in a global context, had encouraged him to explore the realm of public art around the world more deeply.
"I found the teachers passionate and engaging - the course is unique in its underlying approaches to the practise," he said.
Mr Morieson said the location of RMIT's City campus within the CBD provided a direct way for students to engage in art in public spaces, particularly within the dynamics of a bustling city.
"I feel that engaging with the city at such an intimate level helps me to develop an appreciation for the 'landscape', its advantages and shortcomings," he said.
"I am continually identifying sites for potential art projects within this landscape."
The sunflower field is expected to be on display for another two weeks.
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