work / SIGNATURE OF 'M' AWARD 2008
The brief for this competition states that the completed artwork is to define the cultural landscape of Melbourne by summarizing the city’s history and culture through Sport, the Arts, Fashion, and Architecture. It is to be a visual time capsule that future generations can look back upon and ponder, in essence a tapestry of stories. I have used my personal collection of old, well read pulp fiction novels as the platform to express the history and cultural landscape of this incredible city. I was particularly interested in the use of the ‘book’ as a metaphor because it is the intellectual and cultural depth within Melbourne that sets it apart from any other city in this country and what better way to illustrate this than with an image of a well stocked library. Approximately 400 books were used to construct this work. I carefully removed the existing titles and replaced them with new Melbourne based references. This allowed me enormous scope to explore the many stories that define Melbourne. The work begins with various references to Aboriginal History and acknowledges the 'Kulin Nation’ as an integral part of our cultural landscape. Following on from this the book titled ‘HMS Lady Nelson, February 15, 1802’ marks the beginning of European settlement in Melbourne. Also, a fair balance is represented between Sport, Art, Architecture, Film, Music, Writing and the Natural Environment including native Flora and Fauna. I believe that Melbourne is not a city defined by one singular thing…it is the 'collective' nature of Melbourne that makes it such a vibrant and contemporary city. I wanted to illustrate and reflect upon the history of the city, the social fabric, the natural environment, as well as emphasise the extraordinary individual talents, from Nobel Prize and Oscar winners to major international representatives from the arts, including dance, music, acting, writing and the visual arts. Important aspects of sport, particularly AFL, were also incorporated into the work as integral facets of the city. Major events include the 1956 Olympic Games, the 1999 Presidents Cup Golf Tournament, the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 2007 Bledisloe Cup as well as references to the Sheffield Shield, Rugby League, Cycling, Tennis, Horseracing and the annual Formula One and Motorcycle Grand Prix’s. These are all important aspects of our social fabric and help make Melbourne the enviable city it is. This work portrays Melbourne as a city with a remarkable history full of compelling stories. Coincidentally, while collating the research for this piece, Melbourne was named by UNESCO, - the cultural arm of the United Nations, as the second (after Glasgow) International City of Literature.
Peter Atkins 2008