A safe outing for those on “staycation”

Rhonda Dredge

Some of us have been waiting for seven months to see the Patricia Piccinini exhibition at Flinders Street Station. 

The exhibition was cancelled at the last minute then extended then postponed again.

This is a common feature of many of the live cultural events in the city.

Amanda Bacon was one of the few who finally made it to the exhibition in January, at a time when most people were away. 

She met a friend under the clocks and the exhibition was her treat during a “staycation”.

Not only has Amanda been working from home but holidaying at home as well, staying in Melbourne to be close to her daughter.

“Human beings are very nuanced,” she said. “It’s hard to know how people are coping.” 

Piccinini’s show A Miracle Constantly Repeated deals with this dilemma. 

In one exhibit a girl rewilds a rare species trapped in a ghost town. In another a couple pulls apart computers to scrape together a meagre living. In a third, a dolphin rescues a girl beneath the sea. 

The theme of the exhibition resonates with the current zeitgeist. Humans as social creatures, Amanda says, who care for other species and for each other. This can be difficult during a pandemic.

This is the first time in 40 years that Flinders Street Station has been opened to the public and the exhibition is staged in rooms off the third floor corridor where life-like creatures and video installations create heart-warming stories. 

You might pass a few leaks and the plasterwork has seen better days but the arched windows, the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the ballroom and Australia’s third longest corridor have their own stories to tell, as well. 

In the old days of the railways, according to a “humble 19-year-old” who was acting as a guide, management cared so much about its employees that they had their own library containing 10,000 books. 

Employees living in outlying suburbs could have their second book delivered by train to their local station. 

There was a billiard room with pool tables, a ballroom, a child welfare department, nurseries and even a 440-yard running circuit on the roof. 

The exhibition prides itself on being as COVID-safe as possible. 

Visits are scheduled with just small numbers in a large space, there are temperature checks and you have to be double-vaxxed •

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