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St Johns Southgate

16 Apr 2015

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We might change, but some things remain the same.

Ron Robertson-Swann’s sculpture Vault has had a number of homes. This famous work of public art – also known as the Yellow Peril – was first installed in Melbourne’s City Square in May 1980.

But by the end of the year it was dismantled and reassembled in 1981 at Batman Park on the north bank of the Yarra. Then in 2002, Vault found another resting place, being moved to Southbank’s own Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.

Vault is considered by many to be one of Melbourne’s most important public artworks, but the journey of this sculpture has been more than geographical. Its move from the prestigious location of the City Square came on the heels of public outcry over what many thought was a ghastly eyesore.

It had been the talk of the town and not in a good way.

Vault’s home in Batman Park was a humble one. It was used for shelter by the homeless and was a favourite mark for graffiti artists to tag. But, over the decades, Melbournians seem to have warmed to Vault.

It’s no longer thought of as a joke or blight on our public space but is seen as having genuine artistic value and the ACCA is incredibly proud to host it. In recent years, some have even called for Vault to be returned to the City Square where it all began.

Over the past three and a half decades, we as a people have changed. Our attitudes have changed, our aesthetic has changed, but Vault has remained the same – it’s the same collection of prefabricated steel stabs painted that bright yellow – but now most appreciate it, and many have affection and even love for it.

The person of Jesus Christ lives in a similar space in the public consciousness. During his earthly life and in the millennia that followed, he has sometimes been hailed as the next best thing and at other times been run out of town. But, like Vault, Jesus has remained the same throughout its various incarnations.

Jesus has remained the same gracious and loving God through the boom-times of the Christian church and the current age in which the church is considered by many to have lost its relevance.

Jesus might not always be the flavour of the month but, put simply, he remains. Hebrews chapter 13, verse 8 states: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

In the public consciousness, Jesus may be tucked away in the corner of Batman Park covered with graffiti and smelling of urine – so to speak – but he is still there.

And whether he is perceived as magnificently beautiful or the ugliest of creatures, he remains.

And as he remains, he will continue to touch people’s lives and reshape imaginations, because the human being will always cry out for someone to understand, someone to give them shelter, someone to make sense of the senseless. And that person is Jesus.

Pastor Tom


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