Much can be, and has been, said about art. Art is controversial, beautiful, ugly, inspiring, disturbing. Some can easily be hung in a gallery, some is constructed out doors, some can only be experienced with your other senses. Arguably, some you pedal around every day…
The artwork that drew us to the National Gallery of Victoria (“NGV”) on St Kilda Road for our February club ride was Ai Weiwei’s “Forever Bicycles” sculpture currently positioned in the main atrium. The sculpture is here as part of a joint exhibition by Ai Weiwei and Andy Warhol; two radical and controversial artists known for their social commentary and activism.
NGV’s atrium, angular and striking in its design, is relived of being a dark and not-at-all welcoming space by the clear roof, letting shafts of natural light fill the four-storey void in the middle of the ground floor, right near the entrance. The “Forever Bicycles” sculpture easily took up about three-quarters of the atrium. Perfectly aligned frames and wheel rims making you feel like you were being hypnotised if you stood directly in front if it. Or gave you flashbacks of the old Dr Who opening titles.
Despite earlier assurances (from about a month ago) that we could take a photo of our bikes with the sculpture, the security guards on the day were not quite so relaxed. Maybe it was the difference between the weekday and weekend shift. Fortunately we had a backup Brompton – with thanks to Nick (from Brompton Australia).
Bike sculpture photos done, we bought tickets and entered the main exhibition.
The balloons were fun. Fortunately Bethy was there to tell Stephen and I that the red and gold shapes were actually supposed to represent sparrows and llamas – I might have guessed the red ones were birds, but I’d never have guessed the gold llamas!
As this is a Melbourne Brompton Club blog (and I’m not an art critic) I’ll spare you my thoughts on the rest of the exhibition (but I’ve included a few photos). However, if you are in Melbourne and wish to have a look for yourself, it runs until 24 April 2016 so you’d better be quick.
Since we hadn’t actually had a ride yet, after we were done we decided to head off to check out some street art. Just like artwork displayed in a gallery, street art may only be available for public viewing for a short period of time – until someone comes along and paints over your work. So an exploration down one of Melbourne’s more popular laneways will generally uncover something new – maybe even see a work in progress!
Hosier Lane was our first stop. We weren’t the only ones there. No less than three walking tours meandered down as we rode and walked our way up the bluestone cobbled lane. Lucky it’s not too narrow.
ACDC Lane is not far and another good one to visit, but we gave that a miss and cycled up Swanston to Literature Lane, off Little La Trobe Street. At first I thought there wasn’t that much there, but closer inspection revealed some really good stencil work!
Our next port of call was a small, un-named (as far as I can tell) laneway between 106 & 108 Franklin Street, near the Queen Victoria Market. This unofficial laneway-come-driveway is the back of someone’s studio, so a few artists practice their work in the laneway. There are a myriad of images (large and small) and tiny settings to discover.
The final laneway for this ride was yes, another unnamed laneway (as far as Google is concerned). Near the corner of Queen Street and Franklin Street as you enter the Queen Victoria Market area, the laneway is between the shops on your right.
Of course, these few places are hardly a comprehensive list of Melbourne’s street art hotspots. Not by a long shot! They were just convenient on our way home.
My thanks once again to Cory for allowing me to use many of his photos in this post.
Next Month’s Ride
Due to Easter falling on the last weekend of March we might postpone the official March club ride until Sunday, 3 April. Suggestions for destinations welcome, as always. Melbourne hopefully will have welcomed autumn properly by then, and it’ll also be our last ride before daylight saving ends.
Happy and safe Bromptoneering, everyone. 🙂