I was part of White Night Melbourne in two ways. One was a game runner for Pop Up Playground’s The Whispering Society, which meant that I was running between the Melbourne Town Hall, Chapter House Lane and St Paul’s Cathedral all night.
The other was as a commissioned artist, and my artwork, Collins St Regulars, started off the night as 34 little figures all shuffling towards Spencer St, and by that I mean all cabled tied to the Town Hall fence on Collins St. It was interesting to stand back and watch people’s interactions with the work. Apart from the almost constant photographing of them (many people recreated the painting by encouraging friends or family members to pose as one of the foreground figures) the other thing most people were doing it was going up and touching them, examining them closely from all sides. It’s interesting the different mentality that surrounds the placement of work. If you stuck this in a gallery, no one would even think about touching it, art in a gallery possesses an almost sacred quality. But put it out in public and you’re putting it in the public’s domain, they feel free to do whatever they want to it. I prefer the streets to a gallery for exactly this reason, I like the honesty in the reactions to art in the streets. When you put works out in public, you have to give over control of the work to the people who walk by, you have to be ok with whatever happens, otherwise you’re going to have a tough time the first time someone takes it, or tags it, or destroys it. So I didn’t mind that passers-by touched the Regulars, or poked them, or twisted them around to see how they were made. Around 9:30 as I raced by, I noticed that there was a space where one a Regular had been. The tell-tale cable tie was still firmly wrapped around the fence. As the night wore on, more gaps started appearing as people took more of them. The only sad moment was one got ripped in half, just the head and upper body remained on the fence, but I think that’s due to the fact whoever it was tried to rip it off the fence but the stitching on the tag was too firm and instead they tore the whole Regular in half. I rather wish they had ended up with the little guy they wanted to take home, rather than it just ripping. But these things happen. At 7am I went to remove what was left, only 11 Regulars came home with me.
I expected this would happen, although the work wasn’t specifically designed as a gifting piece I figured that it would resonate with people enough that some of them would want to take a Regular home.
And anyway, I don’t mind, that way it’s less artwork to store.