MoreArt is a public art show in the City of Moreland. I took a bike tour of the Upfield train line with The Squeaky Wheel.
Crow chilling out at Coburg station.
When I get there, he’s being bullied by a gang (ie group) of young kids, who are loitering (ie waiting for the extremely Sunday Upfield train) and clearly amused by the crow. They’re like, ‘Can we touch you?’
‘No’, he mutters sullenly.
‘Why not? Aren’t we your friends?’ (giggling) ‘Yeah, aren’t we your bros?’
The crow seems unimpressed but it’s hard to tell cos he’s wearing that thing over his head.
He moves away from the kids, poking his beak into the vending machine, seeing what he can get.
Unsuccessful, he then pokes it into the garbage bin, prising out a juice box which he puts on the ground and looks at for a while before crushing it with his foot.
He then sits back down on the bench. I take this photo. Then a proper photographer guy from the council comes, takes a closer-up shot.
As I leave the kids are getting a group photo with the crow.
There’s a second crow on the opposite platform, but I don’t think they are friends.
Thankyou to Benjamin Cittadini and also the crows.
Fugitive Piano by Michelle Robinson of arts collaboration andeverythinginbetween.
Quite romantic. Apparently they do performances too; the walking tour get treated to ‘The Entertainer’.
This is at Coburg Uniting Church, right near the shopping precinct. It’s basically a mould of the artist, Andrew Atchison, made with birdseed. The idea is that it’ll degrade over a number of weeks. He says he made sure he used a non-toxic glue (PVC? I can’t remember) so it didn’t poison the birds. He’d tried egg first but it didn’t work. He tells us that the piece symbolises the precarious predicament of non-indigenous artists within Australia, with the birds representing the pre-invasion landscape.
As we’re watching him earnestly, this car rolls on by, packed full of people. And the guy squeezed in the back on the side furtherest from us leans over his friend and yells, ‘YOU WANKERS YOU’RE ALL WANKERS!’ Which is kind of funny, but a bit sad at the same time. I note to my friend (well, the friend that I’d met on the tour), that it’s a bit sad that someone would be filled with that much hatred. He tells me he thinks the guy was joking.
Now. This is of my favourites.
I have such a hatred of anything contrived that sometimes it even limits me from trying new things. But anyway, you know what I like about this (apart from the art)? Sansern Rianthong, who came on the tour with us, explains that it was basically fucking depressing (I paraphrase, he was much more polite) riding down this bike track and looking at the boring fence all the time, so he decide to create a bit of life. With straws. It was as simple and as brilliant as that.
Right next to it:
FUCK THE FENCES FUCK THE BORDERS NO-ONE IS ILEGAL. Yeah, way to change someone’s mind about an issue. And may I stress, this was NOT part of the exhibition.
Honestly, there was a lot of great public art. You know how sometimes you go to these things and they’re just shit? I remember the last time I was in Perth, going to a Sculptures by the Sea in Cottesloe. And I couldn’t find any piece that I really identified with. Perhaps the nautical theme often really kills it. Sorry, Sculptures by the Sea, I like that you exist, I really do. I’m not advocating a withdrawal of your funding or anything. One day you will be great.
I could post more of the great art up here, but I don’t want to ruin the tour, and also, I know you all have short attention spans. Suffice to say that there was a lot of great train station art. There’s a bit of a thing in Melbourne with freeway art, but train stations remain dismal and boring. But what better place to look at art than when you’re waiting for the train? You’re a lot less likely to get distracted and cause an accident.
Even our iconic Flinders Street station, which there’s recently been talk of using for a hotel. Which is stupid. It should be somewhere where you can linger, meet up with people, not spend too much money. Somewhere for everyone. I’m thinking, like, the train station version of Fed Square, except way more vintage, and also wheelchair-friendly.
Anyway, MoreArt has two train station pieces that particularly grab my fancy. The first is Interface by HIVE. It’s installed in one of those barred ticket windows, and comments on the fact that many of our transactional interactions nowadays are conducted behind bars or perspex screens, which create a barrier between you and the person selling tickets or whatever, so you only see them in terms of their office, not as a person.
The other beauty is Looking Down the Line. A bluegrass band who recorded their music in a ticketing booth at Jewell station, and the tracks are now playing from the booth all day except between 11pm and 5am. The difference to the atmosphere is amazing. I ask the artist, Tobias Hengeveld what the name of his band was and where they perform, and he says they don’t have a name and they don’t perform but they do publicly jam at the Lomond hotel every Saturday evening.
I suggest to another of my newly-met friends that they should have music playing at train stations all the time. Yeah, she says, but knowing Metro they’d probably put on really annoying music.
I know it’d be difficult because people are often pretty sensitive when they’re commuting, especially in the morning probably, but perhaps they could get a different person to curate each day, make it a Melbourne thing. I guess one person’s ‘annoying’ is another’s epiphany.
Apparently a few years ago Metrotrains would only let the festival do art at one station, but now they’ve become a lot more lenient. Why the change of heart, I wonder? Anyway, it’s positive.
In summary, the tour is highly recommended and it won’t last forever. It’s happening in the next few weeks, details here.