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Melbourne Festival. 10-26 Oct 2014

Artist Statements

Read more about the 2014 Melbourne Art Trams from the artists who created them.

Trying to find an Art Tram? Use tramTRACKER for iPhone and Android. Click on the 'myTRAM' function and enter the tram number to find its whereabouts.



I recall the impression that Melbourne made when I first arrived in 1979 – the city’s Gothic architectural details created an atmosphere that conjured up an earlier time. Just as the tram itself is an iconic symbol of Melbourne, I have tried to capture this Gothic spirit in my painting for a tram design. The design incorporates a pastiche of imagery, drawing from remnants of old Melbourne. These include elements from the Manchester Unity Building, the Forum, the State Library, Flinders Street Railway Station, the Shrine and the lions of St Kilda Road. In the same way that trams themselves provide some continuity to old Melbourne, I hope to create 
a portal into the city’s remembered past.



I was really inspired by ceremonial photographs that are in the Pitt Rivers Museum Australian Photographic Collection at the University of Oxford. It became evident to me that transformation, metamorphosis and artifice are indeed very present in traditional Aboriginal society in the ideas that permeate many of our spiritual beliefs. I was keen to bring this practice of reinvention into my own work. The natural kingdom influenced me and this has always been a touchstone for my work, its mythology, its beauty and the solitude I have felt in its midst.


JEFF MAKIN (tram number 252)

Mt Zero across Lake Taylor is one of the most awesome aspects of the The Grampians. I had originally started painting at the southern end of The Grampians around Dunkeld years ago. As I worked, the changing mood of the sky became more dominant. Beautiful. Dusk became the moment most glorious. As the sun sank in the west, it lit the under-cloud with a soft pink. This memory, and one would hope the painting, is one of wistful melancholia, of nature as poet. And the thought of such a moment wrapped around a tram carries with it, to me at least, the possibility of lightening the daily load of the commuter.



This painting represents my Grandmother’s country; it is an abstract landscape using tradition aboriginal motifs and depicts the beauty and abundance of natural resources available in the region. Women are displayed as ‘U’ shapes, they are gathering food and preparing for a ceremony. Various bush foods including Bush Berries and Yams are featured throughout my artwork, as are groups of Spinifex grass, water soaks and meeting places. There is a riverbed winding through the painting, just like the Yarra River. This area is very important to my family and in many ways it is similar to our modern cities as this is where people come to meet, find food and do important business.



The joy of everyday is often overlooked as we busy our way through life, but it is these little moments of simplicity that I endeavour to capture and recreate. Moments that give our lives true meaning as we open our hearts and minds to the beauty that is all around us. I encourage the viewer to lose themselves to the romance of just being, absorbed in the moment, embracing the enthusiasm and unbridled purity we all felt as children, wide eyed at the beauty of the beach, sun, surrounded by friends, family, love and laughter. These bold figurative interpretations – brought to life through the confident, evocative use of colour and strong textural lines – intend to evoke memories and bring smiles to faces.



The pattern on the outside of this tram was created through repetition of a drawing of a single parrot tulip flower. 
The image was originally hand drawn using coloured pencils on A3 sized paper. It was then photographed and duplicated and mirrored using Photoshop. I want to create an image which allows people to experience the artwork based on their own perception of the patterns. I was inspired by the Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach’s remarkable 1921 invention of the inkblot test. Ambiguous mirrored blobs of ink are interpreted uniquely by individuals who might perceive faces and animals in the ink. Cloud watching can offer a similar experience. 
What can you see in the patterns on this tram?


RONE (tram number 209)

As a Melbourne based street artist who has recently spent more time working overseas, I tend to view Melbourne’s trams as a visual signpost that I’ve arrived home. So I wanted to create something that, like the tram itself, is uniquely symbolic of this city and its inhabitants. I have been painting Melbourne’s laneways for over ten years and associate many of them as forgotten pathways that lead to unknown destinations. A laneway can be a place to hide, a place to meet, or, if you are like me, a place to paint. The grit, decay and ageing effect that have naturally befallen my paste-up, stencil and mural work, has given each of my artworks an authenticity that is in – and of – its city.


KRISTIN HEADLAM (tram number 151)

Melbourne prides itself on being a city of gardens.  Its early planners thoughtfully put space aside for public parks, recognising them as important places for the citizens to relax, exercise and just be in the midst of nature.  In the suburbs, too, people cultivate their own leafy private gardens. Once, our cars bore number plates that proclaimed Victoria to be ‘A Garden State’. Now, as the city expands, many of these gardens are under pressure to be whittled away for extra housing or more roads. A garden on a tram marries two of my very favourite Melbourne symbols, uniting my hopes that one day we might have more of both.