One of the things I like about Melbourne is that it’s a creative, artsy sort of city. There’s always lots on, and in the city centre there’s lots of space given over to different displays of creativity. Love it or hate it, the highly acclaimed, debated and controversial Federation Square, smack in the heart of the CBD, is a perfect case in point, with its jagged, almost broken architectural lines, post-modern functionality, and use of both open and closed space to house and promote artistic expression. Love it or hate it, it makes a statement.
One of the things I like about being a photographer is being able to grab my gear, go for a walk, and explore different aspects of the visual world we live in. On Sunday I was inspired to explore the colour and character of a little of this creativity that Melbourne exudes. Not by design; it just happened that way. Went for a walk, found some colour, and started snapping.
This installation is on the north bank of the Yarra a five minute walk from Federation Pier. I’ve no idea what it is. In all honesty (and I share my opinion as a non-artist, and one who has little knowledge or appreciation for contemporary sculpture) I think it’s quite hideous, both the structure itself and the detailing on it. Not to disrespect the work that goes into it or the vision that others (the artist included) clearly had. However, what I do love about it is the splash of colour and the way its smooth round forms contrast with the angled skyline of central Melbourne. The almost artificial lighting that appears here is actually a result of the feathery clouds that drifted over the city, causing some areas to be strongly lit and others to be more softly illuminated.
Just behind this amorphous blob is a large ferris wheel. It’s no competitor for the London Eye (although there is one such folly currently being deconstructed in Melbourne’s docklands), but it’s a cute, colourful little thing, and against the cloudy sky the cool weekend delivered, I enjoyed the shapes and contrast as they appeared through the viewfinder.
Around the back of Fed Square I found this cute little block of land, aptly named the Urban Garden. Its purpose and presence speaks for itself, but I again enjoyed the combination of colour contrasts, and the notion of the ‘soft space’ of the grass being compared with the ‘hard space’ of the paved square (at the top of the steps at back). In true postmodern style, the designer has juxtaposed hard lines (the cube-like green squares on the grass) with the soft context to further confuse our notions of green space in the city. Or at least that’s my Geographer’s read of it. Like most of what I write, it’s perfectly possible I’m just making it all up.
Fed Square itself is a curious tangle of creative lines that serve no great purpose other than to entertain the eye and usurp an assumed sense of architectural value. While the corrugated tin roof here harks back to the ubiquitous and utilitarian functionality of galvanized roof sheeting that is found across rural and suburban Australia, it is equally as superfluous here as the jumble of ‘support’ beams, and is more a playful nod to Australia’s architectural traditions in the midst of a contemporary installation. Hard to photograph well, I thoroughly enjoy the flight of imagination that went into creating Federation Square, and personally thinks it adds reams to Australia’s cultural capital and the flavour of the city centre.