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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Melbourne's 2021 Art Trams Will Be Designed Entirely by First Nations Artists

They'll run on the tram network for 12 months, kicking off in May to coincide with Melbourne's new Rising festival.
By Sarah Ward and Libby Curran
January 13, 2021
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Melbourne's 2021 Art Trams Will Be Designed Entirely by First Nations Artists

They'll run on the tram network for 12 months, kicking off in May to coincide with Melbourne's new Rising festival.
By Sarah Ward and Libby Curran
January 13, 2021
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Come May, there'll be more than a splash of colour added to your daily commute, with six of the city's trams transforming into giant, moving artworks. They'll be hitting the city's public transport network for the latest edition of Melbourne Art Trams, and they'll be breaking new ground in 2021 — because, for the first time, the trams will only be decked out with designs from First Nations artists.

Four of 2021's trams will feature art from creatives who identify as Traditional Owners of Victoria, while two trams will showcase pieces from First Peoples artists who live in the state. The artworks will "respond to Melbourne and the multiple layers of history, country, diverse community and connections across Victoria", and Expressions of Interest submissions are now open, closing at 6pm AEDT on Monday, February 1.

Whichever designed emerge victorious, the trams will hit the tracks earlier than usual, too, with their timing coinciding with the new Rising festival — the event that merges Melbourne International Arts Festival and arts all-nighter White Night — which starts on May 26. One tram will launch to mark the fest's opening, while the other five will debut over the following weeks, with each decked-out tram doing the rounds for a 12-month period.

"It is exciting that for the first time in Melbourne Art Trams history, the project will be focusing on the talent of First Peoples artists from across Victoria. This shift to celebrate and support First Peoples artists with the iconic program is a recognition of our stories and deep connections to the city and that reach out to the regions," said Art Trams curator and Rising Artistic Associate, Kimberley Moulton.

"The representation of First People's culture and voice in public art and celebration of the cultural strength of community is something I am passionate about, so I am particularly proud to be involved in the curation of this project and look forward to working with the community in realising their works in this way for all of Victoria and our visitors to enjoy."

Melbourne Art Trams is a collaboration between Rising, Creative Victoria, Yarra Trams and Public Transport Victoria, allowing local artists submit their own original tram-inspired designs — and has run as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival in previous years.

The first of Melbourne's art trams will hit the tracks from May 26, with the rest of the fleet joining them in the following weeks and running for 12 months. For further details, or to submit your own design if you're a First Nations artist, head to the Rising website.

Images: Melbourne Art Tram, Reko Rennie/James HH Morgan.

Published on January 13, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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