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Tag Archives: Edward Ginger

Swanston Walk Sculptures

With the transformation of Swanston Street into a semi-pedestrian district in 1992 came new public sculptures. A precursor to the pedestrian district was a weekend stunt of grassing in the street in 1985 for Victoria’s 150th birthday celebrations. 11,000 square metres of grass was laid from Flinders Street to La Trobe Street.

The Melbourne City Council hadn’t commissioned a sculptor since the ill-fated Vault (aka The Yellow Peril) a decade earlier. The sculptures were funded through a variety of sources there was a Street Walk Public Art Project fund the commissioned some sculptures and temporary art, Percent for the Arts (1% of the total redevelopment budget) funded other sculptures and Nauru funded one sculpture. Fortunately there were no controversies this time and the public either loved or ignored the new sculptures.

Melbourne’s art eduction had not produced enough local sculptors in Melbourne to fill all the commissions. Many of the sculptors who produced work for the Swanston Walk were not born in Melbourne but were recent arrivals from interstate, Japan, Sri Lanka, Holland and the USA.

Petrus Spronk, Architectural Fragment, 1992

Petrus Spronk, Architectural Fragment, 1992

On the corner of Swanston and La Trobe Streets is “Architectural Fragment” 1992 by Petrus Spronk. The bluestone sculpture was commissioned as part of Street Walk Public Art Project and installed in 1993. Spronk was born in Holland, immigrated to Australia in 1957 and trained as a ceramicist and sculptor in South Australia.

The steel and jarrah seat near the corner of Swanston and Little Lonsdale Streets is  “Resting Place” 1994 by Bronwyn Snow. It was funded through Percent for the Arts.

Edward Ginger “The Echo” 1997

Edward Ginger “The Echo” 1997

There were delays to commissions. “The Echo” by Edward Ginger was commissioned in 1992 but its fabrication and installation were delayed due to a lack of sponsorship. It was completed in 1996 and unveiled for Chinese New Year 1997 on the corner of Swanston and Little Bourke Streets.

Born in 1951 in Sri Lanka Edward Ginger arrived in Australia in 1975. After completing his studies at the College of Fine Arts, Sri Lanka Ginger undertook further studies in sculpture and printmaking at RMIT.

On the corner of Swanston and Little Collins Streets is “Time and Tide”. “Time and Tide”, 1994 by Akio Makigawa is a bluestone, white marble, bronze and stainless-steel sculpture, 1994 (Percent for Art Program)

At the intersection of Bourke and Swanston high on top of tram poles, turning on the wind are four animals. Made of hand-beaten copper sculpture with gold-leaf detail there is a bird, a horse, a fish and a pig with wings. The bird is a reference to the city’s gardens; the horse symbolises sport; the fish its waterways; and the winged pig a joke about the city’s hope and future.

The “Weathervanes” 1993 are by jeweller, Daniel Jenkins. Born in America in 1947 Jenkins studied art at Georgia Southern College. He moved to Australia in 1981 with his wife where they established a jewellery workshop and a retail outlet. Jenkins received an honourable mention at the 1984 Ornament Jewelry International Competition. In 1984 the NGV acquired a copper, silver (laminated) brooch c.1984 by Jenkins and in 1988 a steel walking stick (1988).

Alison Weaver & Paul Quinn, “Three businessmen who brought their own lunch; Batman Swanston and Hoddle”

Alison Weaver & Paul Quinn, “Three businessmen who brought their own lunch; Batman Swanston and Hoddle”

On the corner of Swanston and the Bourke Mall is “Three Businessmen Who Brought Their Own Lunch: Batman, Swanston and Hoddle” (aka “Metal Men”) 1993 by Alison Weaver and Paul Quinn. It was a gift from Nauru even though it had already been commissioned by the City of Melbourne. The much-handled hand of the first of the businessmen had broken off sometime in 2013 but has now been reattached with an internal steel armature reinforcing it.

In the City Square near the corner Swanston and Collins Streets and the Burke and Wills Memorials by Charles Summers. Further up Collins Street there is “Larry LaTrobe” 1992 by Pamela Irving, a small bronze sculpture, 1992 (Percent for the Arts)

At the City Square on the corner of Swanston St & Flinders Lane a bronze sculpture on granite plinth, “Beyond the Ocean of Existence”, 1993 by Loretta Quinn. Quinn was born in Hobart and studied sculpture at the Tasmanian School of Art before going on to further studies at the Victorian College of the Arts.

There are few great works of art on Swanston Walk; the sculptures are often frivolous, quirky and irreverent and these are the most popular sculptures for the people walking the Walk.

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Fear & Loathing & Melbourne’s Public Sculpture

Melbourne’s public sculpture collection has been assembled without much thought and without much expense. Although I write blog posts about Melbourne’s sculpture it is not because I am particularly impressed with Melbourne public sculpture collection. Melbourne sculptures strike me as a cheap collection by a city that was desperate to install some public art.

As a collection of art the city’s public sculptures are not world class. Melbourne does not have many famous sculptors; the William de Kooning bronze out the front of the Arts Centre is an anomaly both for Melbourne and for de Kooning, who is better known as a painter. In contrast, Adelaide has sculptures by Henry Moore, Andy Goldsworthy, Barbara Hepworth and Donald Judd all of which are well known for their sculpture.

Although Australian Aboriginal art is popular with Melbourne’s international visitors there are no major public work of Aboriginal art. The City of Melbourne has also chosen to ignore the local street art movement in public street art – rather they choose to attempt to preserve a piece by Banksy. (Although both Aboriginal art and street art are primarily based painting a sculptural work would not be inappropriate or impossible.)

Edward Ginger “The Echo” 1997

Melbourne City Council’s choice of emerging sculptors rather than established sculptors has saved the city money and given new sculptures a break but very few have become established sculptors. Near the corner of Lt. Bourke St. and Swanston St. is Edward Ginger’s “The Echo” 1997. “The Echo” is a big red funky geometric sculpture that attempts to be an urban totem. “The Echo” is representative of Ginger’s other, usually smaller mixed media works; the intense colours, especially red, and funky geometric forms. Edward Ginger. Unfortunately Ginger has not exhibited since 1998

There is an element of what the late great Hunter S. Thompson would call “fear and loathing” in Melbourne’s sculpture collection. Melbourne’s population has a tradition of opposition to public sculptures, expressed in opposition to Ron Robertson Swan’s “Vault” and Paul Juraszek “The Sun & the Moon”. Melbourne’s conservative past is the reason most often cited for this rejection but there might other factors in the mix. One might be an imported tradition of opposition to public sculpture from Melbourne’s significant Irish immigrant population. Paula Murphy in her article “Rejecting public sculpture: monuments in Dublin” (Apollo v. 154 no.475 Sept. 2001 p. 38-43) discusses the rejection of public sculpture in Dublin in the 19th and 20th centuries. “The extent of the opposition to the public sculpture in place and the numbers of works that are now lost to the city suggest that this attitude apparently verged on a national pastime at the time.” Murphy suggest several reasons for this attitude, including the style of the work or the subject portrayed in it, but it is political reasons that account for the rejection of many imperial statues.

In Melbourne sculpture has been installed in the city as a token gesture. “Sculpture plays a vital part in public investment with regard to urban regeneration. Art is seen as a crucial component in improving safety, restricting crime, and encouraging a prosperous local economy.” (John Finlay,  “Christchurch: Sculpture as Urban Design Strategy” Sculpture 27 no9 N 2008) And Melbourne is squandering its investment in public sculpture.


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