The Docklands area is home to the Docklands Public Art Walk which covers 36 outdoor artworks situated in the parks, promenades and built into the architecture and landscape.
There is a guide which explains each artwork and a map. Enjoy a walk through the Docklands with this guide and find out more about the individual artworks that comprise one of the most extensive public art programs in the world.
The complete walk is likely to take a couple of hours.
Step one is to download and print a copy of the brochure (or access online) which includes a map and a description of each of the art works.
The most interesting section for families is the northern section. On the side of the harbour along New Quay Promenade is #4 (Silence) which is a large installation which has ethereal white forms like clouds and trees. This is for admiring but there is a new installation about 50m away to the east which is not in the guide which is much more fun for the kids. It has a number of coloured pyramids, mountains and forms which are perfect for exploring and climbing on. Exercise and art join together.
To the south of this area, some of our favourites were #11 (Threaded Field) which is a giant green thread which loops around the Etihad stadium concourse, the iconic #13 (Cow Up a Tree) and #31 (Blowhole) which is full of movement on windy days and is located next to a playground and close to an area with lovely rowing boats on a dry watercourse.
Some of the art is best experienced at night time. This would include #7 (ColumnWall - hidden + revealed), #8 (Colony), #9 (Field of Play), #12 (Art Wall), #15 (Poise), #17 (Aurora), #19 (On the Beach), #33 (Heartland) and #36 (Slipstream)
There may also be some art work in the foyers of buildings which would not be accessible during weekends.
Pick a nice day and explore the Docklands area using the extensive outdoor artwork as navigation points. It's well worth it. There are water taps, seats and plenty of eating places along the route.
Summary of Art Work:
1. Heavy Metal Jam Session
By Louise Paramor (2009)
Heavy Metal Jam Session is a striking landscape of strangely familiar objects. A shipping pallet, stools, hoops and other domestic and industrial objects have been ‘jammed’ together in playful combination of scale, colour and form.
2. Walk of Stars
The Walk of Stars has been removed to make way for a new tower block.
3. Ned and Dan
By Alexander Knox (2005)
This three-dimensional frieze is inspired by Sidney Nolan’s 1946 Ned Kelly paintings. The Australian landscape is represented by the undulating façade walls, which are treated with a unique ‘pixelated’ perforation method that produces complex shadow plays. The helmet-like corner nodes are references to the Kelly masks; they frame the mirrored sculptures within, reflecting a morphing vista of sunlight and sky that moves gently in silent tribute to the waves of the sea.
Sculptor Adrian Mauriks has described this work as “a series of forms arousing to the mind, appealing to memory, reminding you of natural things – clouds, a tree, a forest – questioning and gesturing, and at the same time promoting sustainability in all things.” The work has a quiet presence, suggesting gentleness and an opposing view of the chaotic world outside.
Location: NewQuay Promenade.
5. Outside Inside Out
Matthew McCarthy and Andrew Trevillian (2005)
This colossal mural by designer Matthew McCarthy and typographer Andrew Trevillian
spans 45 metres and sits over four levels at the rear of NewQuay’s Arkley Tower. A typographical tribute to the late Australian painter Howard Arkley, it is a raw and elegant interplay of typography, words and meaning that evokes the Australian suburban psyche. The work was recognised by the Australian Graphic Design Association in its 2006 National Biennial Awards for Creative Excellence.
Location: Façade, Arkley Building, Caravel Lane.
6. Salt / Fresh
By Jonathon Jones (2010)
Responding to the site’s natural history and honouring the traditional homelands of the Kulin Nations, Salt/Fresh represents the mixing of the salt and fresh waters of the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers. In a spectacular display of linework, patterns and light, the artist pays tribute to ripples, wavelets and tidal shifts - a testimony to the water's greatness.
Location: Foyer, 380 Docklands Drive.
7. ColumnWall – hidden + revealed
By Adrian Page (2008)
Six illuminated and intricately faceted columns stand like sentinels at the entrance to the building. Inscribed with numerical codes, the columns present a tantalising puzzle, and at night the lantern effect adds an other worldly atmosphere to the street.
Location: Foyer, 370 Docklands Drive.
8. Sealight Pavilion
by Monash University architecture students and Rintala Eggertsson architects
The Sealight Pavilion is a site-specific installation that responds to Docklands’ past and present. Made of reclaimed timber, Sealight amplifies the natural phenomena of sea and sky – the most captivating amenities of Docklands – and poses an alternative urbanism for the area in both scale and experience. Sealight is a collaboration between Monash University, Rintala Eggertsson Architects, Grimshaw Architects and Places Victoria. In and around the pavilion, people can experience the play of light and sound of Victoria Dock. It is a place to meet, to stare into the sea and sky, to witness the passage of time, and to escape the sun, wind and rain.
Location: Cnr Harbour Esplanade and La Trobe Street.
By Troy Innocent (2008)
A network of 48 totems is embedded in the ‘Forest Walk’ environment of Digital Harbour. At night, the totems are silhouetted by a changing spectrum of light, and the forest comes alive with a cacophony of sound. This interactive landscape responds to human presence both on site and online.
Location: Main entrance and Courtyard of Life.lab, 198 Harbour Esplanade.
10. Field of Play
By Troy Innocent (2007)
Walking down Harbour Lane is like walking into a virtual game world, especially at night when illuminated icons really come to life. The colourful icons are embedded under foot and in the walls at the end of the lane, like futuristic graffiti. They define a playing field that can be activated via mobile phone (using Bluetooth). If you have a phone with you, connect and join the game now or later at www.fieldofplay.net.
Location: Harbour Lane, Digital Harbour.
11. Structure of Vortices
By Cameron Robbins (2012)
Cameron Robbins is an artist with a deep interest in natural forces, and he naturally chose water as the subject of this video installation projected on the façade of the Melbourne Water building. It reveals the magnificent behaviour of vortex, which parallels that which appears in larger parts of the natural world such as cyclones and galaxies. Sometimes appearing like an avid dancer and a creature at another time, the vortex continually mesmerises viewers.
Location: Western elevation, 990 La Trobe (viewable from dusk).
12. Cast IV
By Antony Gormley (2012)
Cast IV, from Antony Gormley’s series of Block Works, uses a mounting cannon of six sizes of steel block and the absolute geometry of architecture to evoke the internal
state of the body beneath the skin. Each block has a unique position in the body form which evokes a lived moment of internal tension, activating the architectural space around it. Despite the sharp material clarity of the steel blocks, the sculpture betrays a sense of vulnerability and exposure. The positioning of the work is determined by its relationship to the architectural and social environment. This figure stands behind glass, the tension of its position reflecting the duality it embodies between movement and quietude, pixelated construction and the human form, the observer and the observed.
Location: Lacrosse, 673 La Trobe Street.
13. New Ways of Thinking
By Emily Floyd (2012)
Education and knowledge are key themes in the work of Emily Floyd. In a wide-ranging practice that encompasses public art, sculpture, installation and prints; interaction is a fundamental part of the process of engagement for the artist. She has a long-standing interest in educational philosophies and this work innovatively explores how information is communicated and the ideas that shape who we are and who we wish to be. The artist frequently works with language and texts in unexpected ways and meticulously considers elements such as font and colour, shape and size, material and movement to create tactile works that not only engage our senses but also serve to initiate discussions about contemporary social, cultural and environmental issues.
Location: Lacrosse, 673 La Trobe Street.
14. Threaded Field
By Simon Perry (1999)
Melbourne sculptor Simon Perry, best known for his very popular ‘public purse’ in the Bourke Street Mall, practices a Pop Art sensibility and explores the forces that shape our experience of public places. A giant green thread playfully loops and knots its way through the Stadium concourse, an unexpected player on the field. The sculpture has itself become a popular playground.
Location: Near Gates 1 and 6, Etihad Stadium concourse.
15. Art Wall
By Peter D. Cole (2000)
Art Wall, situated behind Channel 7, explores the relationship between television and image – the nature of television as a transmitter of electronic images, the perception of those images, and the intimacy of television as a medium. A series of small windows contain three distinct 3D installations – a diorama, a scale model of a television room with a tiny working television set and a series of printed glass elements.
Location: Rear of Channel Seven building, Etihad Stadium concourse.
16. Cow Up A Tree
By John Kelly (1999)
The cow’s distinctive shape references the portrait of Australian artist Joshua Smith by William Dobell, which won the 1943 Archibald Prize and was subject to the infamous court case during WWII where ‘art’ was put on trial. At that time, Dobell served as a ‘camouflage’ labourer, producing papier mache cows used to disguise airfields and fool Japanese pilots. Inspired by a flood that swept cattle into trees in Victoria’s Gippsland area, this work imagines a flood hitting Dobell’s airfield.
The open sky, wind and the ebb and flow of the tides are elements in Docklands that connect us to the vastness of nature. Nesting on the timber piles that once supported the old wharves, the mesmerising artwork shimmers like a shoal of fish gently moving with the winds and tides of the harbour.
Location: Water Plaza.
By John Mead (2006)
Melbourne artist John Mead’s Aqualung is a sleek and abstract sculpture that is loosely based on the breathing apparatus of the human body. It has a peaceful, contemplative and timeless presence in the busy public thoroughfare in the North-South link of the NAB buildings. Appearing to emerge from underground, Aqualung quietly disrupts the breezeway and the clean, efficient architecture that surrounds it – and like much of Mead’s work, has the ability to take one’s breath away.
Location: Captain’s Walk, between the NAB buildings, 800 Bourke Street.
By Warren Langley (2005)
Made from toughened safety glass and LED lighting within a steel frame, Poise is shimmering and crystalline by day and glowing blue by night. Langley says “It would appear that every culture has within its mythology a sacred vessel. These vessels are variously perceived as receptacles of something precious, whether spiritual intent or otherwise. Here, the precarious position of the vessel speaks of the delicate state of balance.”
Location: Near Bendigo Bank building, Etihad Stadium concourse.
By Neil Dawson (2005)
Anchor offers a tribute to the maritime crafts of the past – specifically, decorative rope work – by using the maritime technologies of the present. Dramatically changing its appearance throughout the day, the work is approximately 33 metres from the ground and secured by cables that are almost invisible, so it appears to float in the sky. New Zealander Neil Dawson is one of Australasia’s most prolific artists.
Location: Near Gate 8, above Etihad Stadium concourse.
By Geoff Bartlett (2005)
Named after the Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora’s inverted cargo net makes a symbolic connection to Docklands’ history as Victoria’s most important port. The stainless steel surface is highly reflective and, at night, is lit from within to create a glowing orb floating above the street. The piece encourages pedestrians to walk through its legs and look upwards, to “focus their attention away from the everyday and to reflect upon the work and the sky beyond.”
Location: Corner Harbour Esplanade and Bourke Street.
22. Civil Twilight End
By Kate Daw and Stewart Russell (2011)
Built with the original brick from the heritage Goods Shed that was punched through to make way for the extension of Collins Street, the bell tower stands as a reminder of the industrial and maritime past. The large brass bell tolls each day at civil twilight end – a meteorological term for the moment when the sun drops below the horizon and day turns into night. The bell is linked to a sophisticated computer program that measures the time for civil twilight end, which varies each day and location, depending on latitude and longitude.
Location: Corner Bourke Street and Village Street.
By Andrew Rogers (2008)
Three biomorphic forms hover at the edge of the forecourt, and another appears at a distance away in the foyer. Their weathered skins unfurl and reveal a warm glowing interior.
Location: Forecourt and entrance foyer, National Foods, 737 Bourke Street.
24. On the Beach
By Janet Burchill (2007)
Docklands’ waterfront is reflected beautifully in this work by Melbourne artist Janet Burchill. Constructed in the quintessentially urban medium of neon, On The Beach
references Nevil Shute’s popular 1957 novel about the aftermath of nuclear catastrophe, which was later made into a film by Stanley Kramer and shot on location in Melbourne. At the time, lead actress Ava Gardner famously commented that it was an appropriate place to locate a film about the end of the world.
Location: Rooftop, Site One, 757 Bourke Street.
25. It’s Hard To See What This All Means
By Rose Nolan (2007)
Rose Nolan works with the heritage and heroism of modernism. Here, her ribbon banner installation is suspended from the roof of the internal arcade, activating the vertical space with a wonderful sense of volume and colour. The title is a playful take on the illegibility of the text and the challenge of ‘reading’ art. The work follows suit, ‘flying the flag for abstraction’ with its references to political propaganda, cheer squads, crowds and fans.
Location: Foyer, Site One, 757 Bourke Street.
By Michael Snape (2005)
Continuum is essentially about the dance of life, reflecting the human condition of being alive. The interconnected figures encircle each other and reach up to the sky, conveying a sense of community, cooperation and wellbeing. The artist was inspired by Docklands coming to life again, impacting on the community’s sense of self and causing “an internal shift: this is the continuum.”
Location: Corner Bourke Street and Harbour Esplanade.
27. Signature Work
By Emily Floyd (2004)
Melbourne artist Emily Floyd is known for her ‘toy’ sculptures that explore the relationship between art and its audience. Drawing upon images from childhood, literature, myths and legends, her work is both playful and sardonic. Signature Work questions the relationship between artists, art and the ‘art market’ – and it’s also intended to be simply enjoyable as a familiar and appealing object.
Location: Waterview Walk.
By Mikala Dwyer (2005)
I.O.U is both a debt and a poem. Fashioned from stainless steel and toughened glass, the piece won a Popular Choice Award at the prestigious Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Awards in 2002. Dwyer says, “the IOU is something that promises another presence: that stands for something else. Here in its sculptural form, the promise stays suspended [and] the mirrored object disappears into its surrounds.”
Location: Waterview Walk.
29. Reed Vessel
By Virginia King (2002)
Virginia King’s elevated vessel seems to have emerged from the water to become suspended in time and place, between land and sea. Exploring themes of migration, journeys and the rekindled spirit of the land, the cradle is sandblasted with poetic texts that quote Australian poets and writers. It also references marine archaeology and the once abundant foods that Aboriginal people harvested from this former tidal wetland.
Location: Docklands Park.
30. AXA Building, 750 Collins Street
By Jonathon Jones and Cox Architects (2007)
Jonathon Jones worked with Cox Architects to produce an installation and façade design that explores notions of community from a contemporary urban Aboriginal perspective. It’s based on the continuing significance of this location as a place of trade and communication in the past and present. His contribution to the architecture encompasses the ‘stone’ treatment at the base of the building, the chevron perforations in the ‘shield’ façade and a spectacular light installation in the foyer.
Location: Façade and foyer, 750 Collins Street.
31. Feng Shui
By Guan Wei (2003)
No longer there.
Location: Foyer, 700 Collins Street.
By Ari Purhonen (2003)
Sydney artist Ari Purhonen’s colourful public installations play with parallax and perspective, using colour to offer a range of views and experiences. In this piece, coloured vertical louvers accentuate the dynamics of this energetic new urban environment. The work is designed to be viewed by motorists on Wurundjeri Way as well as pedestrians using the Collins Street Bridge, offering a changing colour field depending on the position of the viewer.
Location: Car park façade, 700 Collins Street.
By Bruce Armstrong (2003)
Towering high over the railway lines near Collins Street, Bruce Armstrong’s Eagle keeps a watchful eye over Docklands. Bruce Armstrong, one of Melbourne’s most prominent artists, is well known for his iconic representations of animals, carved in Australian hardwood. Eagle was originally commissioned to commemorate the naming of Wurundjeri Way and is constructed of timber, aluminium and glass.
Location: Wurundjeri Way.
34. The Wave
By Vashti Gonda (2006)
The Wave was inspired by the past and present of Docklands, paying homage to the intrepid nature of the human spirit. The waving figure plays on the ‘wave’ gesture, the ‘wave’ of the sea and the figurehead of a ship to celebrate the movement and immigration that creates a port area. Loved ones greet and farewell seamen, soldiers and migrants, saying goodbye to the past and welcoming the future.
Location: Façade, V1, Georgiana Street.
35. Car Nuggets
By Patricia Piccinini (2006)
Car Nuggets represents the essence of the car, completely removed from the pragmatics of transportation – or, in the words of the artist, “as chicken nuggets are to chickens”. The work is a celebration of everything we desire in cars – the fluidity, the colour, the sense of speed and beauty of form – without any of the negatives. On another level, it is also a gentle critique of the superficiality of consumer culture.
Location: Forecourt, Kangan Institute, ACE, 1 Batman’s Hill Drive.
By Duncan Stemler (2004)
Docklands’ prevailing winds have been harnessed as a medium in this 15-metre sculpture by Sydney artist Duncan Stemler, creating a spectacular animated beacon within Docklands’ playground and park. The piece heralds the area’s maritime history and its renaissance as a vibrant urban destination. When the wind is strong enough, the armature and cups form a complex galaxy of orbiting balls, mimicking the anemometer on the top of a yacht’s mast.
Location: Docklands Park.
37. The River Runs Through It
By Mark Stoner (2011)
The River Runs Through It by Melbourne artist Mark Stoner, is a spatial installation that merges art and landscape. An evocative and organic landscape of dunes, waves and plantings is overlayed upon the urban stripe paving pattern, revealing the natural forces underlying the site beneath the paved urban space and reminds us of the Yarra and alluvial mud plain that existed around the site.
Location: Collins Landing.
38. Webb Bridge
By Robert Owen and Denton Corker Marshall (2003)
The sculptural Webb Bridge was the result of an art competition to transform a disused cargo link into an integrated artwork that could also function as a pedestrian and cyclist bridge. The old Webb Dock link and its new connection to the bank is now a unified sculptural form. It expresses the gestural flow of the river below and also references Koori fish traps, drums and baskets – the everyday tools used by Aboriginal people to harvest.
Location: Bridge over Yarra River between Docklands Park and Yarra’s Edge.
By Karen Casey (2003)
Shimmering energy fields representing life, renewal and journeying – and echoing the patterns on Aboriginal artefacts – appear superimposed on the glass front of the building. Heartland incorporates a rear-illuminated, animated image developed from imprints and earth mouldings taken from the site. A cyclical lighting sequence evokes the ebb and flow of the river as well as the rising and setting of the sun.
Location: Stairwell, Tower 1, 50 Lorimer Street.
40. Photo Art Billboard
By Various artists
The billboard site at Yarra’s Edge, Tower 1 Lorimer Street, exhibits a photographic image by an Australian artist every year. The billboard has become a local landmark, featuring some of Australia’s best known contemporary artists.
Location: Façade, Tower 1, 50 Lorimer Street.
41. Windscreen Art Installation
By Dale Jones Evans and Dani Marti (2003)
Two windscreens of contrasting appearance, Red Box and Metalika add colour and protection from the wind between the residential towers. Pedestrians can enter and travel through two main passages cut into the Red Box, and walk along Metalika to be immersed in the artworks.
Location: Between Yarra’s Edge Towers 1 & 2, 3 & 4, River Esplanade.
By Peter McGregor and Bruce Slorach (2004)
This neon light art installation expresses key elements of a busy urban setting. The images and patterns of movement along the river and the freeway become animated as light waves, racing along the building Façade. The rhythm and choreography of the neon light animation provide a strong sensory experience.
Location: Façade, Tower 3, 70 Lorimer Street.
Some other public art which is not listed on the guide is:
by Callum Morton
Callum Morton’s inspiration was the use of existing monuments scattered in the Melbourne CBD along with the Hoddle grid. Those are then covered with a ‘concrete carpet’, the carpet is then peeled back to reveal bursts of colour and landscaping. Can you recognise these famous Melbourne monuments that have taken a new form?
Location: NewQuay Promenade, Docklands.
MPavilion 2015 employs materials and technology developed for the aerospace industry to create the sensation of a forest canopy. It is made of five and three metre-wide translucent petals supported on slender four metre-high columns that gently sway in the breeze.
Location: 752 Collins Street, Docklands.
by Sally Smart
Shadow Trees is an assemblage construction of painted and fabricated mild steel, with plasma-cut silhouette elements, bolts and structural elements. The work casts shadows within its structure, creating a complexity of imagery in which there is always something new to discover.
The work also nods to Victoria Harbour’s past, both pre-colonial, as a place abundant with plant and bird life, and post-colonial, as a working dock. The sculpture has lighting which adds another layer to its complexity at night.
Location: Buluk Park, 894 Collins Street, Docklands.
Edge Of Your Seat
This work brings Melbourne's world-renowned street art culture to Docklands. This 140-square metre mural celebrates one of Melbourne's obsessions - sport.
Location: Northern side of Docklands stadium on the façade of the M Docklands building.
by Dion Horstmans (2014)
The welded steel and glass installation, which consists of 100 separate pieces, is immense and spans 80m. It is one of Melbourne's largest integrated sculptural artworks. The artist was inspired by the explosive force of an F18 jet breaking the sound barrier. He wanted to create a sense of time and space for those travelling along Collins Street.