Commuters will be part of a mobile gallery as they travel in eight new Melbourne Festival art trams hitting the tracks today – four created by RMIT artists.
For the third year running, the Melbourne Art Trams project highlights some of Victoria’s best and emerging artistic talent.
From 145 entries, eight tram designs were selected, with four of those by RMIT academics and graduates.
The RMIT artists are lecturers Martine Corompt (School of Art) and Stephen Banham (School of Media and Communication), Fine Art alumnus Amanda Morgan and Matthew Bird, PhD graduate from the School of Architecture and Design.
The creative brief for artists this year was to “take inspiration from Melbourne’s architectural landscape and design a tram that responds to how design and architecture define the character of the city.”
Banham, who lectures in the Bachelor of Design (Communication Design), said his response was to design a tram as a hybrid of typography and cartography based on the architecture of identity and “thematic clusters” that can be found across Melbourne.
“Look across a map of Melbourne and you’ll see them –‘thematic clusters’ developed to unite streets, even entire suburbs, under a single concept,” Banham said.
“Elwood street names seek the grandeur of English poets, Glen Waverley has 38 streets following a Camelot concept, while a Beatles theme runs riot throughout much of Narre Warren.
Morgan’s tram, Architectures of Light, refers to other ways of seeing the changing world of our cities, through developments of playfully active urban spaces.
The tram design is an extension of a previous work for the 2012 Gertrude Street Projection Festival, in which images of international architecture and galleries were projected onto the façade of a high-rise public housing estate in inner-Melbourne.
“The tram is the result of documentation of these juxtapositions, of the imagery on the site, set against the contemporary view of the building, and the everyday streetscapes of Melbourne,” Morgan said.
“I love the idea of artworks transporting us through the city during the festival, as this creates another layer and complexity to this fantastic city.”
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Corompt’s tram is titled Look both ways and reflects on how cities, especially a great city like Melbourne, are in a perpetual state of change and renewal.
A lecturer in drawing, painting and media arts, Corompt said at any one time there was constant demolition, clearing, redevelopment and construction in our urban environment.
“The spectacular void of the construction site, appearing in place of something that once was, is always a mesmerising sight, even if the change is not welcome,” she said.
“Perhaps think of this tram you are riding as a moving catalyst for change, ploughing through the city and suburbs leaving a trail of transformation in its wake.”
The trams start running on 21 routes across Melbourne today (8 October) and will remain on the network until April 2016.
Story: Wendy Little, Gosia Kaszubska