Those concrete bollards being placed around the city are attracting quite a lot of comment.  It’s true that they’re not pretty, and it’s unfortunate that they’re seen to be necessary.  The ones near Fed Square are certainly very “obvious”.   Hopefully they’ll be replaced in the not-so-distant future by something more attractive.  In the meantime, I’m not convinced that the answer is to “decorate” them, as reported on the news.

In Flinders Street, at Fed Square
In Swanston Street, at Fed Square
TV news report of bollards “being decorated”

Night Life

We went to the Night Life exhibition being put on by the National Trust at Ripponlea.     It showcases evening wear (almost exclusively women’s)  from the early 1920s – featuring lots of beads and glitter – to the “Moderne” style of the 30s (with a greater focus on prints).

It also includes  the works of some contemporary Melbourne  designers who view the era through modern eyes.

Cavalcade of Transport mural

The June issue of Royalauto contains an article (also here) about a campaign to find a new home for Harold Freedman’s Cavalcade of Transport mural. The article sparked my interest, as we had visited the Freedman exhibition at Ballarat.

The mural is in the Spencer Street shopping complex, right at the north end.   The whole place is a bit of a barn, but so far as I’m aware, this was the case even when the mural was placed in its present location in 2007.   However it seems that since then the retail mix has changed and now the mural is a mere backdrop in the “Tk-Maxx” store, and very hard to see clearly.  There are light fittings and air-conditioning ducts all over the place.   It’s also visible from inside the Harris Scarfe store, but the visibility is even worse.

One possibility for a new home is said to be the Melbourne Convention Centre.

The Royalauto article states that the mural is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, but the owner (Public Transport Victoria) seems to be waiting for others to suggest a new location, and to presumably to pay the costs involved in any relocation!

Harold Freedman

We came home from Creswick via Ballarat, so had the opportunity to see what was happening at the Ballarat Art Gallery.  I wasn’t swept off my feet by the display of some of the finalists in the Guirguis Art Prize, but I was wowed by the display of some of Harold Freedman’s work.

I admit that I knew almost nothing about Freedman.   Such knowledge as I had was limited to being aware of the existence of the Cavalcade of Transport mural, which from a young age I frequently admired in the former Spencer Street station (I confess that I can remember when it was the “new” Spencer Street station and I recall the station that it replaced!)

I must locate the Cavalcade of Transport mural again;  apparently it’s still there somewhere, although partly obscured by air-conditioning ducts!

Freedman had a career as war artist, teacher, cartoonist and artist.  He was Victoria’s one and only “State Artist”.   Apart from Cavalcade of Transport, he was responsible for major murals in the former arrival hall at Tullamarine Airport and the State Government offices at Geelong as well as the the “Legend of Fire” mosaic for the Eastern Hill Fire Brigade head quarters.   Another  of his many contributions to art in Victoria is the poster series, Men of Service and Women of Service, which he undertook for the Victorian Railways after World War 2.

Descriptive poster











Passenger guard
Locomotive designer (note Star of David)
Engine driver and fireman (fireman is said to be a self portrait)
Station master

Degraves St subway

I can’t understand why the Degraves St subway at Flinders St station (especially the exit) is relatively little used compared to the congested entrances at Swanston and Elizabeth Sts.   Not only are the subway entrances on the platforms close to the centre of arriving trains, but the ability to use the subway under Flinders St saves crossing at the lights at surface level.   These crossings are often congested, and the time allowed for pedestrians is quite brief.

img_20170214_122013Whether to encourage use of the subway or for some other reasons, the empty display cabinets have now been filled with interesting lights supposedly “art”.   Different, yes, but quite good to admire.

EDIT:  The display is managed by Creative Spaces and the area is known as  The Dirty Dozen.



img_20170214_122004 img_20170214_122036 img_20170214_122049

The Versailles Exhibition

We visited the National Gallery’s Versailles exhibition.    Of course, nothing can recreate the actual splendour of the palace and gardens at Versailles, but this exhibition of  “130 paintings, intricate tapestries, gilded furniture items, monumental statues and other objects from the royal gardens, and personal items from Louis XIV to Marie Antoinette” (from the blurb) is pretty impressive just the same.     In fact, you could say that because the exhibition is less overwhelming than the “real thing”, one better appreciates the detail.

Louis XIV

I was particularly fascinated by the room describing the efforts of the years to supply water to the complex.

Desk of the Dauphin, son of Louis XV
Barometer, 1773-75
Louis XIV giving instructions to La Perouse, 1786
Marie-Antoinette, 1783