A recent trip to Melbourne gave a chance to see some of the works inspiring artists and communities in Sydney’s Greater West. Among them was the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden in Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens, inspiring Liz Day’s preparation for a Children’s Memorial Garden on the site of the notorious Parramatta Girls Home.
Now open for a decade, the Melbourne garden includes a child sized tea-tree tunnel, a bamboo forest with its own sculpted elephant to “ride”, a tree tower and story tree, labyrinths, a pond, waterways and rocky gorge, a children’s vegetable garden, top left, and lots of discovery and educational spaces with programs to match.
The gardens are loved so much they have to be closed for two months in winter to give them time to recover. Bronze sculptures, middle left, of Norman Lindsay’s Magic Pudding characters Bunyip Bluegum, Bill Barnacle, the Pudding himself and Sam Sawnoff, bear indications of their enduring popularity. Constant rubbing by little hands has left lots of shiny patches.
Street art and graffiti in Melbourne seem to enjoy a respected status, while tagging and vandalism meet with the same disapproval by authorities. Many inner city walls, bottom left, are adorned with brilliant artworks, often commissioned by their owners. Temporary and permanent art installations appear in many public spaces, giving the city a vibrancy clearly appreciated by locals and visitors.
In this particular neighbourhood, a large and well used park included a skateboarding bowl. A vividly illustrated adjoining fence was clearly accepted by local authorities. Far from encouraging antisocial behaviour, skateboarders young and old were attracted to the space and enjoyed a code of sharing and friendly mutual support.