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Making the Metro Tunnel - Reflections by Contemporary Australian Artists
Various Artists

Consultant Curator and Exhibition Manager: Lisa Warrener, Global Art Projects

Exhibition Design: Nick Lewis Design

Client: Metro Tunnel Creative Program for Rail Projects Victoria

The Making the Metro Tunnel: reflections by contemporary Australian artists exhibition was developed by Global Art Projects in collaboration with the Metro Tunnel Creative Program. It was open 1 April to 7 May 2023, at Domain House, Dallas Brooks Drive, South Yarra.

The exhibition captured the process of building this massive city-shaping rail project through artworks that respond to the project’s construction, as well as artworks from a creative partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

The aim of the exhibition was to explore and celebrate the construction milestones of the Metro Tunnel Project which at the time of exhibition, had been under construction for several years. The artists in this exhibition took inspiration from archaeological digs, heavy machinery, the aesthetics of worksites and worker’s equipment to produce their own portrayals of the project.

About the Artists

Troy Argyros painted several important objects found in the dig that are now under the guardianship of Heritage Victoria.

Kenny Pittock’s ceramics playfully represent items from the archaeological dig that were not deemed significant, but still contain clues to Melbourne’s social history, from old beer cans to plastic straws. All non-significant items shared with artists are from the period post-European settlement.

First Nations artists Jenna Lee, and Iluka Sax-Williams with Dan Bowran, have transformed fragments of post European settlement objects uncovered in the archaeological digs, into contemporary artworks.

The exhibition also includes a new painting by Emma Coulter, related to her epic colourful mural that adorned the acoustic shed over the new Town Hall Station site from 2020 to 2023.

Sculptor Daniel Agdag met with a tunnelling expert on the project, gaining access to diagrams of the tunnel boring machine that inspired the design of ‘The Instrumental’.

Michelle Hamer’s intricate hand-stitched works use a warm material to translate photographs of giant road headers and a concrete tunnel.

Harley Manifold’s atmospheric oil paintings capture the activity above and below ground, of construction sites busy with machinery and industry during the construction of the tunnels and stations.

Chelsea Gustafsson’s paintings pick up the common visual references that tied all the diverse working skills together – the highly recognisable items of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hardhats, high visibility vests, steel capped boots, safety glasses.

The exhibition also included work from a partnership between the Metro Tunnel Creative Program and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Four Melbourne artists were offered rare access to the State Botanical Collection at the National Herbarium of Victoria. Artists Caitlin Klooger, Tai Snaith, Dianna Wells and Oliver Ashworth-Martin created wonderfully diverse responses to the Herbarium collection. Three of the artwork concepts have subsequently been reproduced as major hoarding artworks displayed around the Anzac Station construction site adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria’s Melbourne site.

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