The Docklands, just west of Melbourne’s CBD, tries so hard. And it has, as far as I can, see every ingredient necessary to be a successful destination for Melbournians and tourists alike. But somehow it just doesn’t work.
It’s like a display village of an urban space, with restaurants and boats, views and public spaces. The only thing that’s lacking are people. Considering the number of apartment buildings in the area there must be quite a population that call Docklands home but where they are I can’t tell you.
There were a lot of empty shops and closed restaurants when I last visited the area to see Cirque du Soleil. Even major shows hosted in that area don’t seem to attract a crowd.
Docklands has a number of art installations scattered through the area. They are, I assume, one of the ways that they have tried to attract visitors to the area.
Cow Up a Tree
My favourite piece of art in the Docklands and possibly in all of Melbourne. Cow Up a Tree looks exactly as it is described by its title. It is art in all of its ridiculousness. It is art for art’s sake, a piece that can be prescribed any meaning. My personal favourite meaning is that it represents the futility of life. Try it: it works with any piece of art. It’s a piece that can and I’m sure has been, scoffed at by the masses as a waste of public money that would be better spent on hospitals.
This piece is about the opposite of the futility of life. Well that’s the impression that I got from the artist statement that uses words like ‘community’, ‘quest’ and ‘aspirations’ to describe the meaning of the piece. It still looks pretty futile to me.
Yep it’s a giant cartoon rabbit. I think the meaning of this piece is ‘don’t take drugs in the Docklands’.
I missed out on seeing ‘Blowhole’ in its full glory. Its cups catch the wind and spin creating a changing art piece. However it just wasn’t windy enough when I walked down to that end of Docklands. This sculpture, set amongst swings sets, is a playful addition to a public park.
Walk of Stars
This area reminded me of a similar space that I recently stumbled across in the centre of the CBD. Green turf, surrounded by shops and restaurants, this area should have been teaming with life and action like its CBD counterpart. But it was a dead space with only a few small groups of people making use of the area.
Five bronze statues adorn the area, Australian stars of stage and screen. A point of difference with these bronze statues is the use of colour. Dame Edna’s gown is an aqua hue, Kylie’s replicate has touches of red and Graham Kennedy’s crown is, of course, gold.
I’m not sure what will bring people to the Docklands but it is worth taking a walk from the Melbourne CBD to see the public artworks on display. They have tried so hard. It’s the least you could do.