This October, your regular commute will turn into an immersive experience when Melbourne Art Trams return for the sixth year, running as part of the 2018 Melbourne International Art Festival. Eight trams will be transformed into public artworks, comprising seven new commissions and a reproduction of a classic 80s piece.
The project is a revival of Transporting Art, a program which, between 1978 and 1993, saw 36 hand-painted trams launch across Melbourne. Among the most memorable was a W-Class tram by the late expressionist artist David Larwill, created in 1986 as part of the United Nations International Year of Peace. This year, it's to be faithfully reproduced, with the help of digital photography and adhesive.
On top of that, look out for seven brand new concepts. Gunditjmara woman Hayley Millar-Baker, who hails from southwest Victoria, will explore personal and collective connections to country, land, flora and fauna, while psychedelic street artist Oli Ruskidd will be drawing on bright colours and swirling patterns, inspired by Melbourne's powerful creative energy. Other street artists in lineup include Valerie Tang (a Year 9 high school student) ,Nick Howson (best known for Richmond's Tigerland mural) who'll be depicting a tram full of myriad folks and Stephen Baker (creator of Fitzroy's Pool Parade), who'll be interpreting Melbourne as a geometric mosaic.
Carrying you from the land-bound to the aquatic will be Oslo Davis, whose weekly cartoon Overheard has been amusing readers of The Age for longer than a decade. His tram will reimagine Melburnians travelling trips the city as swimmers moving through water. Finally, taking things into another dimension will be artist and academic Troy Innocent, whose interactive design will become animated when viewed through a mobile phone with an augmented reality app.
The first of the 2018 Melbourne Art Trams will take to the tracks on 4 October, with the others following hot on its heels. Expect to be riding them until early 2019.
Images 1-2: David Larwill's 1986 W-Class tram; 3: Valerie Tang; 4: Troy Innocent; 5: Stephen Baker; 6: Oslo Davis; 7: Oli Ruskidd; 8: Nick Howson; 9: Hayley Millar-Baker