You don’t have to go far in Melbourne to come across public art, with over 150 sculptures, memorials, monuments and fountains throughout the city. Here’s a snapshot of some of Melbourne’s most loved (and sometimes controversial) permanent art works.
Last year was Melbourne Zoo’s 150th birthday, an event that saw 50 elephants arrive in the city. The colourful statues created by various artists pay tribute to the zoo’s baby elephant of the same name (now not such a baby at well over 400kg). The statues were auctioned off in October, and although we don’t know the location of all of them, Deborah Halpern’s brightly-coloured Mali now resides outside ArtPlay on Birrarung Marr.
The Three Businessmen who Bought Their Own Lunch: Batman, Swanston and Hoddle
Artists Paul Quinn and Alison Weaver’s quirky, oft-photographed, life-sized sculptures of three businessmen carrying lunchboxes is located in the heart of Melbourne, on the corner of Swanston and Bourke Streets. Alison Weaver claims that while the men are named, they’re also intended to be anonymous and represent being ‘trapped in the perpetual motion of consumerism’.
Vault (aka Yellow Peril)
This canary-yellow piece from artist Ron Robertson-Swann was controversial when first installed in the City Square. Many Melburnians found it too abstract. After a few moves, Vault now resides outside the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) at Southbank, where its bold colour commands attention against the rust-coloured ACCA building.
The Fairies Tree
Ola Cohn spent three years carving this ancient Red Gum, putting up with weather extremes and insect stings, as well as repeated acts of vandalism. The name of the artwork – located in Fitzroy Gardens – comes from the whimsical and magical look of the tree and the fact that Cohn carved fairies, dwarfs, gnomes and elves into it.
Find out more about public art in Melbourne.