Tag Archives: Gandolfo Gardens

Paramor at Moreland Station

The prime location beside busy Moreland Road is a car park because the massive LXRP project was all about a hypothetical increase in traffic flow. The priorities are evident and the Louise Paramor’s sculpture was installed not to be seen but to art-wash and tick boxes. It is not a hostile installation, just not very friendly as it is only visible from one side of the new railway station and isolated from most people in the area. Basically, a waste of a good sculpture.

I’ve seen faster installations of Paramor’s sculpture, see my blog post about installing Ursa Major. The landscaping around the sculpture took months with the sculpture isolated behind temporary fencing and bollards.

The sculpture is a substitute, having destroyed the Gandolfo Gardens and its mature trees. Adding to evidence that the sculpture is a substitute, it was born with a plastic spoon in its mouth. It is part of a larger group of sculptures that Paramor has been working on for years.

Studies for a Boomtown (2016) were intended as studies or maquettes for future large-scale sculptures, were made from found pieces of plastic, steel, and wood. Scaled up and fabricated in steel from on a model made of readymade plastic parts, the knitting needle, the wig stand and some kind of squeeze pump.

Visitors to the NGV may be familiar with Paramor’s Noble Ape in the sculpture garden, but it is different because it is beside a train station in Melbourne’s inner north. Melbourne’s train network rarely uses the arts for placemaking. There are few sculptures near train stations, but only Fleur Summers’s Making sense at Jewell (see my post) and FIDO in Fairfield (see my post) are visible from the train. 

What does it mean? The intention of public art as a provocation for the public’s imagination seems lazy and optimistic. Ambiguity is often overrated, and it will take time to judge how it has provoked the public. However, public sculptures are successful where the public completes stories of the sculpture. As Duchamp noted: “the onlooker has the last word, and it is always posterity that makes the masterpiece.”

Not that the onlooker is given any information about the new sculpture. No plaque, no title. Not even the name of the artist and Paramor does have the moral right of the artist to be acknowledged. 

Writing about architecture or public sculpture just after its installation is like writing about a battle plan before engaging with the enemy. It is too sympathetic towards the intentions of the architect and sculptor. It doesn’t care about the people who use the space. Only after they engage with the architecture or sculpture and make it their own, often renaming the sculpture in the process, can its qualities be fairly assessed. If a public sculpture is only known by one name, it hasn’t engaged with the public.

Writing about the recently installed Paramor sculpture at Moreland Station might be a mistake. It is a mistake that would favour the sculptor and commissioning process and ignore that it is a public sculpture. Sure, I could ask a few passers-by about their opinion or take some quotes from social media, but that would be merely anecdotal, not a representative sample. Nor is this fair to the randoms because these are just initial reactions, and they have been given no time or experience to form an opinion.

At least it is a sculpture by an established artist. In the past, there was a preference in Melbourne for the commissioning of emerging artists because it was cheaper to ‘foster emerging talents, ’ resulting in many second-rate sculptures. We are also fortunate that we are not living in an earlier time when a statue of Premier Dan Andrews or some other white Christian male would be erected like an unsolicited dick pic.


Under the elevated rail construction

For 16 months plus I have been without my closest bicycle path that runs along the Upfield railway. Parks and numerous trees along it destroyed. All to construct an elevated stretch of rail-line so that cars wouldn’t have to stop for the trains, trains that only run every twenty minutes at the best of times.

There is no public art for either of the two new stations at Moreland and Coburg, whose cavernous entry halls are empty, bare, and boring. Nor any for the area under the railway line. Monochrome painting of pillars, ordinary park benches, paving and lighting do not qualify. During construction, there was a pathetic attempt at art washing with images by local primary school children displayed on the fence around the wreckage of Gandolfo Gardens.

I have had the construction noise in my ears and the grit blowing in my eyes for the past year. Every day as I walk around the fenced off-site, I thank Daniel Andrews, Jacinta Allen, and the Level Crossing Removal Project in my own special way for the inconvenience. And for imposing their bland aesthetic on the area, not in small patches as the graffiti writers have been doing in a collaborative effort for decades, but blocks.

However fences and construction site security, don’t stop outlaw artists; there are always creative solutions. Gies was the first to apply aerosol paint to the north end of the new construction, at the Bell Street with a massive ‘bomb’ in three colours. And Sped was the first to tag the southern end of the tracks. The destruction of their work doesn’t remove those achievements.

Only one feature of the architecturally incoherent new stations is appealing. The platforms of the two new stations have excellent blue-black dust-covered surfaces set at 45 degrees. Perfect for writing your tag or drawing pictures in the dust, you don’t need a pen; the dust is that thick. For graffiti is the traditional visual culture of the area going back for over twenty years when Psalm and others painted the back fence at Coburg Station. So it was good to see the work of some locals, including, while I’m mentioning veteran street artists, Braddock! 

Braddock “Blue seems sus”

I dream that I can once again bicycle on a path to Brunswick. And that someone will take a fire extinguisher filled with paint and spray the underside of the rail-line. I hope that soon colourful art will cover the concrete: pillars yarn-bombed, the chainlink fencing covered in radical cross-stitch. The area needs to be reclaimed by the public, as some of it once when locals created Gandolfo Gardens in an act of guerrilla gardening.


Sky Rail Destruction

Changes to place in Brunswick and Coburg due to Sky Rail replacing the Upfield train line. Along with the changes to the infrastructure there has been destruction of public gardens and Sky Rail will effect the street art, graffiti, free libraries, guerrilla gardens, and other anarchic guerrilla place-makers along the line. MoreArts, the annual Moreland City Council outdoor art exhibition, which uses spaces along this transportation corridor has been suspended.

Yarn Corner Uncle Dickey’s Library Install

The destruction of parks in Coburg including the chopping down 100+ of mature trees enjoyed by native birds and possums during a climate emergency. The destruction of these parks is the destruction of places. You can’t instantly make a place, it requires people with memories of the place and that takes time, like a tree, to grow; it will take decades to make an impact.

Jacinta Allan, the minister responsible for this destruction is doing it to save some car drivers a few seconds off their commute. It is doing nothing for rail commuters and bicycle riders. Sky Rail construction is destroying many places with nothing better than optical community consultation (something that has the optics of a community consultation).

Locals defended Gandolfo Gardens. They worked through all the processes, attended meetings, wrote letters, signed petitions to no avail and were eventually dragged away by the police. The garden at Moreland Station was created by locals a hundred years ago. A place full of trees and memories. It had a memorial to an ancient scar tree that had previously been removed from the site.

The sad fact is that just across the road from Gandolfo Gardens was one of the most neglected blocks that could have been used instead. Nothing more than a parking lot and abandoned silos.

Now that the walls are no longer in eyesight of the commuters in the train their value to graffiti writers will decline. Access to most of the walls, along with the bike path, has been sealed in February.

I have written many blog posts about the street art and graffiti along this path. Here are a couple about things that have already or will soon be effected by the construction. Although neither was intended to be permanent the art and place-making along the line is a loss for all who enjoyed it.

The little red free library contacted Yarn Corner about moving their installation to the libraries new location at Robinson Reserve in advance of the construction. Great to see world’s best practice in public art being carried out by guerrilla place-makers.

The now fading linear text work along the bike path, A Narrow Road to the Deep North by Illimine, will be destroyed or cut up like the end of a novel by William Burroughs.

I suspect that this will be an on going subject for my blog.


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