Trams are a popular mode of transportation in Melbourne, serving a total of 182.7 million passenger trips last year. But have you ever thought these could also serve as moving artworks? Transporting Art was a yearly project between 1978 and 1993 that saw 36 of Melbourne’s iconic trams repainted and reimagined by renowned local artists such as Howard Arkley, Mirka Mora, Reg Mombassa, Michael Leunig, Trevor Nikolls, to name a few.
20 years later after the last tram got painted, it’s back. Melbourne Festival partnered with Arts Victoria and Yarra Trams to redecorate eight trams that will ply different routes for the next six months, and become moving works of art.
The emerging and established artists who got to design the trams are the following:
* Brook Andrew (tram 3509) with a contemporary rendering of a Wiradjuri design usually found traditionally on shield designs and tree dendroglyphs.
* Jon Campbell (tram 925) with a design that was inspired by his childhood backyard in Altona. It’s a stylised version reminiscent of cricket matches with siblings and friends, family BBQs, and 21st birthdays.
* Bindi Cole (tram 3008) with her design Lakorra, the Wathaurung word for sky. It attempts to bring a bit of the open expanse of the sky back before the city was populated with skyscrapers and billboards.
* Luke Cornish (tram 209) is a design of Umgana, a Rhinoceros at Werribee Zoo. The inspiration behind this was the iconic trams were synonymous to a rhinoceros on a skateboard, ergo, a total no brainer for this project.
* Rose Nolan (tram 151) on her design: ‘It’s Ok to Be Alright- as a message – is fundamental, constant and gently motivational. The sense of circularity and rhythm from the space of being ‘okay’ to the space of being ‘alright’ and back again replicates, in some way, the movement and rhythm of this tram as it winds its way across the city’.
* David Wadelton (tram 2002) used 700 images of houses, built from various budgets, styles, and eras, to create wallpaper with which to wrap a tram. According to David, ‘the tram will thus become a mechanical embodiment of suburban Melbourne’.
* collective Joining Forces (tram 259) is composed of six Melbourne-based artists who combine diverse styles to make imaginative art such as this giant orange transportation device covered in floating moon babies, space weasels, and crusty old slug men.
* Freya Pitt (tram 183) design is a loose, personal mapping of Melbourne. It combines sketches drawn while on trams with streetscapes from around the city. It explores the sense of possibilities and unknown eventualities within a communal space like a tram.