Public art and its economic value: Public art not only enlivens urban spaces, supports local artists and sparks conversation, it’s a relatively cheap way for cities to attract both visitors and money. Events such as Vivid Sydney and MONA in Hobart have proven to have a significant impact on the local economy, in terms of the increased revenue generated from more visitors, better productivity and free publicity that unique cultural events create. As Meg Bartholomew reports in the Guardian, city planners and property developers are taking notice of the potential that lies in an ‘experience-based economy’. Art that makes people feel good makes them linger – and spend. Aside from the economic benefits, public art helps to define a city’s identity (hello, Melbourne), enhances a city’s reputation, and can even …
Where are they now?
Selfie competition winners, the Merri Stationeers, are grassroots activists in creating better community public space.
They won three yellow Sun Lounges for their entry, “Surfin chicks,” at This Public Life Festival of Landscape Architecture in Melbourne last year.
In the lead up to our next festival pop up park (bigger and better than ever for Canberra in 2016) we check in with Jela Ivankovic-Waters to see how their mission is progressing.
The Stationeers had been looking for seating for their Common in Melbourne’s north-east for more than three years, says Jela, but had not been able to afford furniture to complement their site.
“The lounges add a bright spark that reflects the character of the community, not just any old furniture,” she says.
“They have been used for gatherings, basking in the sun reading and dozing, a restful place for dog-walkers and kids monkeying around.
“I was at the AILA conference in Melbourne 2015, when the competition to win a seat was announced. It occurred to me that this would be an ideal opportunity to make my first ever selfie!
“I pulled in two other landscape architects who live in the neighbourhood to pose as three surfie chicks on the yellow wave-like lounges.
“I think we captured a spirit of fun, as well as our greater cause for the community. I still believe we are worthy winners, no matter how embarrassing it was!”
The Sun Lounges were installed by Darebin Council, with approval from Victrack, in a shady area of the Common.
“The lounges have been affectionately labelled the Banana Lounges,” says Jela.
“Situated amongst tall she oaks and gums, they are positioned in part, dappled shade overlooking an open grass area.
“As the area is used by kids to play soccer, football, cricket and lounging about in, it is a fitting aspect. It is not far from the street, so access and visibility make it safe.
“As a committee we discussed all the possible positions, to fully hash out where the maximum benefit would be derived.”
The Stationeers began in 2008 as a community action group, with concerns about private developers buying up Common areas around railway stations.
Nine years on, the guardians are dedicated to developing the parklands around Merri Station, says Jela, “so the local community feels safer, prouder and can receive more enjoyment from using the amenity.”
Eight local residents make up the committee, working with Keep Australia Beautiful, Victrack & Metro Trains and supported by Darebin Council, Northcote Rifle Club and a Friends network of more than 150 supporters.
“Our committee members come from a number of professions: teacher, government administrator, artist, landscape architect, botanist, environmental manager, community development manager, HR professional, lawyer and paediatrician,” says Jela.
“We are all in our forties and upwards, sharing a common set of values about community wellbeing tied in with community spaces.”
“The lounges add a bright spark that reflects the character of the community.”
The Stationeers have transformed the Common with shade trees and windbreaks (Allocasuarina verticillate) along exposed areas near the railway platforms. They have replaced crushed rock embankments with lush ground covers (Myoporum parvifoilum, Enchylaena tomentosa) and shapely shrubs (Correa glabra, Atriplex cinerea).
Feature specimens of Eucalyptus caesia, E. pulveuelenta, Acer rubrum ‘October Glory,’ Doryanthes and Banksia are planted. An eroded expanse is now a vibrant indigenous grassland with Stipa elegantissima, Themeda traindra, Dianella amoena and Chrysocephalum apiculatum.
“After an excess dumping of mulch in a neglected patch in a thicket of trees, a BMX track has spontaneously emerged and gradually carved a permanent feature for local kids,” says Jela.
“As the area is more frequently occupied in such areas and with ball play and dog walkers in the open grass patches, it is much safer to use for a wider demographic.”
Trained as a horticulturalist amongst “a plethora of amazing plants and geologies” in Western Australia, Jela returned to Melbourne where she established a landscape design and construction business and began studying landscape architecture.
She has an upcoming book about Australian plants in design and art, and is completing a PhD on the role of digital technology in sharing knowledge in design practice, “with the view that plant and other living systems data can feedback into the design of our public spaces.”
Jela says she is able to use her experience to recommend planting types and arrangements to the committee, who also consult with a botanist on the most suitable species to plant for the site’s aspects and fauna.
“We are keen to continue planting so we can can create a rich and diverse environment for the community, commuters and fauna,” she says.
“With additional seating, drinking fountains, art installations and other interactive equipment we hope to engage a wider cross section of the community, to participate and generate new ideas for the space, aka Common.”
With spring upon us and summer on our heels in Australia, the Mall Sun Lounge is a perfect addition to local parks and community spaces.
Available in eco-certified hardwood, woodgrain aluminium, anodised aluminium or a range of bright powder-coated summery shades.
Konstantin Dimopoulos is New Zealand–raised artist who has worked extensively in Melbourne, Australia and is currently based in Tennessee in the US. His successful environmental art installation The Blue Trees has been re-created around the world, including at Sydney’s Pirrama Park in 2016. StreetChat talks to him about activist art in urban spaces. The Blue Trees has been installed multiple times around the world. What have you observed from presenting the work to different cultures? I think that people around the world are basically the same. They all realise the huge issue that we have with global warming and the importance of rainforests and old growth forests to our survival as a species. Purveyors of water, consumers of carbon, treasure-houses of species – the world’s forests are ecological miracles. People want …
StreetChat is giving away one stylish Mixte bicycle from Papillionaire, valued at $599, to a lucky new subscriber. Choose your frame colour from navy, vermillion, olive, birdie, cream, white or black: Then get ready to cruise through parks and streetscapes on a classic European design. Simply sign up to StreetChat before October 31, 2017 for your chance to win. Terms and Conditions: Competition is open to new subscribers only. Winner will be announced via StreetChat in November. Street Furniture Australia will deliver directly to the winner. Already receiving StreetChat? Send to a friend! Share via Twitter: Sign up to StreetChat for a chance to win a Papillionaire bicycle: * indicates required Company Email * First Name * Last Name * Company * Phone Region * —ACTNSWNTQLDSATASVICWAI am not in Australia Preferred Bicycle …
Crisp apple cider, served via an Arqua Fountain, equals good nights ahead at the International Festival of Landscape Architecture. Street Furniture Australia’s production team have been working on the Batlow Cider Fountain to tour to Canberra this October. Production Manager Christopher Morgan took time from his busy schedule for the serious task of fountain testing, with a keg supplied by Batlow Cider. “It is safe to say our cider has never been served through drinking fountains before,” says Batlow’s Rich Coombes. “We are excited to partner with Street Furniture Australia to bring good times and great cider to the festival.” At our Regents Park factory, Morgan and his team are challenged with delivering the bubbly liquid in a steady, controlled stream, while preserving the dignity of waiters and esteemed guests. (No sudden spurts.) “After experimenting with several valves …
As the International Festival of Landscape Architecture approaches, Street Furniture Australia is gearing up to release prototypes of the fixed, yet movable, Flower Chair. Last month StreetChat brought you our White Paper on the movable seat, exploring how public spaces become more inviting with the ability to decide your position. Flower Chair is a novel approach to the movable seat that is fixed to the ground, yet allows sitters to adjust their outlook. The seat will swivel 360 degrees, empowering sitters to look for the best view, interact with neighbours or enjoy some solo time, and change their position in relation to the sun. Fixed at the base, it provides an opportunity for placemakers to experiment with movable seating, with the added peace of mind that their assets cannot ‘walk’. …
Between lightbulb moments and deep thinking sessions, some 500 delegates of AILA’s 2015 Festival of Landscape Architecture recharged at Street Furniture Australia’s pop-up This Public Life Park. The four-day conference program included the likes of David van de Leer, Natalie Jeremijenko and Jenny B Osuldsen talking all things landscape architecture in Melbourne on October 15 to 18. Visitors kicked off their shoes to enjoy the freshly rolled-out park lawn in Federation Square with SFA sun lounges, cafe tables and Forum seats in the shade of leafy trees planted in brightly coloured rim bins. To celebrate the launch of SFA’s Forum seats, a cross between a backyard and street furniture bench, delegates posted selfies with their favourite Forum to Facebook for a chance to take it home. And the winners are: Special mentions go …