Seven new artist commissions and one re-creation of an original art tram will be transformed into eight major mobile artworks on Melbourne’s iconic trams this October.
Designs by Kent Morris, Nusra Latif Qureshi, and emerging artists Vandal, Sophie Westerman, Gene Bawden, Nyein Chan Aung and the Beaconhills Year 3 Collective will be represented in the public art project, now in its seventh year.
Melbourne Art Trams is a revival and re-imagining of the seminal Transporting Art program which ran from 1978 to 1993 and resulted in 36 hand-painted trams being rolled out across the Melbourne network. The project was relaunched in 2013 through a creative collaboration with Melbourne International Arts Festival, Creative Victoria, Public Transport Victoria and Yarra Trams, and in 2019 is sponsored by Principal Partner Officeworks.
One of the eight designs to be unveiled in October is a recreation of an original Transporting Artwork by Lesley Dumbrell, commissioned in 1986. Dumbrell’s design will be on the Melbourne tram tracks alongside seven new commissions from Victorian artists.
Nyein Chan Aung’s The Late Supper is an interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting. His illustration depicts people having supper, however, features unknown customers at Melbourne’s renowned Supper Inn Chinese restaurant instead of Jesus Christ with his apostles.
Kent Morris is a Barkindji man based in Melbourne who believes Australia is currently experiencing the evolution of a collective celebration and acknowledgement of Aboriginal culture and stories. Morris’ artwork is constructed from a single photograph taken while walking on Country. Apart from basic editing, digital information has not been added to or taken away from, the original photograph.
Vandal is a Melbourne-based mixed media stencil artist, spray canner, paste-up and sharpie marker artist. Her work is set to brighten tram traveler’s day with the colourful Marbaamarbaa garingali (multi-coloured native dog) taking people on their daily adventures around the city.
The Beaconhills Year 3 Collective have represented Melbourne in their tram design as a welcoming place through the gestures of our friends. The class have created a series of body shapes in a similar style to Keith Haring, with a focus on unity and harmony in the community.
Sophie Westerman works with printmaking to create architectural landscapes. Her tram design is compiled from a series of colour etchings titled I think we were friends once, maybe, representing connection but also isolation.
Gene Bawden is an academic and practicing communication designer and her work Yours, mine, ours is a design that celebrates the ambitions for diversity and inclusion within the city of Melbourne. Abstractly represented in the stripes of colour, pattern and geometric blocks, are letters that spell out this proclamation.
Nusra Latif Qureshi references the traditional art of South Asian miniature painting in her design. Her artwork features a floral pattern from an antique French textile and pays homage to the title of Melbourne as the Paris of the south. The red in the design celebrates the vibrancy and richness of Melbourne’s cultural life.
Lesley Dumbrell is recognised as a pioneer of the Australian women’s art movement of the 1970s. Her original tram design, painted in 1986, was inspired by a trip to Italy where Dumbrell was drawn by the colour, costumes and music of a festival. For over forty years Dumbrell has been refining her technique of geometric abstract painting, injecting colour, light and emotion into an often precise painting style associated with the Colour Field Painters of the 1960s.
The first tram will hit the tracks on Tuesday 8 October with the other seven soon to follow and will remain on Melbourne streets until August 2020.
A People’s Choice Award will be announced following the release of the trams, with the public able to vote for their favourite tram at festival.melbourne/arttrams