For the second KYD No. 15 teaser, Pepi Ronalds writes about the role of public art and how we interact with it, including Melbourne’s most infamous piece of public art Vault.
If these walls could talk they’d tell just part of the story. Their steel and concrete forms chronicle movement and debate. Their perpendicular shadows silence spite and division. Layers of paint wipe away decades of graffiti. They mask the scars of movement; of the night they were ferried off by a dentist, of the years they spent maligned in an obscure park, of the day someone moved them here to where I stand, outside Southbank’s Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. These are the walls of Ron Robertson-Swann’s Vault, one of Melbourne’s most controversial pieces of public art.
Almost anyone in Melbourne at the time will remember the furore Vault provoked in the late 1970s and early 1980s. From the moment its design was first revealed at a city council meeting, Vault sparked a debate that still haunts those heavy yellow walls. A major sculpture was always intended for Denton Corker Marshall’s redesign of Melbourne’s City Square and there was a diligent selection process. Research was conducted, experts and councillors were consulted, a number of artists had been selected and a competition was held. Through this process Vault was selected as Melbourne’s first major installation of contemporary public art.
Pepi Ronalds is a freelance writer based in Melbourne. She likes drinking tea, has a thing for Japan and writes a blog about the future of long form. Follow her on Twitter.
To read the rest of Pepi’s piece, grab a copy of Issue Fifteen, available online October 1!