Sunday, 21 April 2013

With and With Eachother, Footscray

With and With Eachother by American artist Tom Bills, sits in a small reserve on the busy Geelong Rd/Ballarat Rd intersection in Footscray. It is a bold concrete work that holds ground against the constant barrage of traffic and trucks. The pair of concrete forms look like lungs, or perhaps twins in-utero, which are not the kind of images that engender much public love. So it is not entirely surprising that the work has had its fair share of drama and controversy.

The work was created as part of an art event (Construction in Progress VI, The Bridge) in 1998 and was originally located in a roundabout near the Queen Victoria Market. It was apparenly only intended as a temporary work (despite weighing more than 50 tonnes) and it was removed in 2002 with just a little fanfare. The plaque on the site records that it was donated to Maribyrnong City Council by Melbourne City Council in 2008. This followed a public plea from Melbourne for someone to take it off their hands after 5 years in storage.

Has it found an appreciative audience in this new location? It certainly provides a strong visual contrast to the heritage listed gardens across the road, and adds some interest to a patch of grass that is too close to a busy road to host picnics or kite flying. The nearby Victoria University campus also draws many student pedestrians to the intersection, who may be more likely to appreciate the confronting nature of the work than the older residents of the area.

If you're looking for some uncompromisingly minimalist concrete sculpture, you know where to go.