A love affair with Vault

By Rhonda Dredge

Most adults are wary about interacting with sculpture in public places, according to a study by RMIT.

But Vivienne Halat, a Masters student at the university, takes her esteem to great heights.

As a circus performer, she was attracted by the inviting planes and angled views of Vault.

Yet when she observed the way other people approached the sculpture over the past year most just walked around it.

“One person walked through it,” she said. “I’d like to see them milling around. It could be an adult playground.”

Vivienne has set about provoking a change in responses to public art in her research project for a Masters in Art in Public Spaces called Temporality and Monuments.

She said that Vault was the first major piece of contemporary sculpture commissioned for Melbourne’s CBD and it should be in a buzzing setting.

“It invites you to think. It’s absolutely beckoning,” she said, waxing lyrical. “The whole thing is dynamic particularly on a blue sky day … it’s static but it’s alive. It doesn’t have a front, back or side.”

Vivienne’s study coincides with a growing interest in public spaces with some sculptures sitting nicely in their locations while others such as Vault should be commanding more respect.

An example of the former is Inge King’s Forward Surge which sits quite poetically next to the Arts Centre and in front of the residential towers of Southbank.

“It gets kids climbing all over it,” she said.

Vivienne has tested out rigging from the wave-like forms for a performance she will be doing with Women’s Circus in November.

Another example is Clement Meadmore’s Dervish which is likely to be moved for the upcoming redevelopment of Southgate.

“Southbank really has some great stuff,” Vivienne said, and she wants people to respond to it and strike up some poses.

Gone are the days when the population trooped obediently in a single file along footpaths to work.

Scooters, bicycles, skate boards, roller skates and now rigging are some of the more dynamic approaches to movement through public space.

On the day Vivienne went down to Forward Surge to test out the rigging, some kids had their bikes on top of the sculpture and she wasn’t surprised.

“It’s about agency in a public domain and people being able to interact with public sculpture not just stand back and look.” •

Join our Facebook Group