Canvas on a carriage

By David Schout

If you’re rushing about the CBD this month about to board a tram, be sure to scan the carriage left and right.

For there’s a good chance the tram’s distinctive green and yellow design has changed.

The latest batch of “art trams” has hit the city, with eight new designs making their way through the CBD and beyond.

As part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival, seven artists were given the opportunity to use an entire tram’s facade as a canvas.

The eighth tram is a re-creation of a work that appeared on city streets in 1986 from the late expressionist painter David Larwill (1956-2011).

The tram Larwill’s work appeared on in 1986 has been in storage for more than 20 years and was photographed then re-created especially for this year’s project.

His work will appear on the number 70 and 75 trams that run along Flinders St.

This is the sixth consecutive year of Art Trams after the former Transporting Art project – which ran from 1978 to 1993 – was revived in 2013.

Gunditjmara artist Hayley Millar-Baker is one of the seven whose work will appear on this year’s fleet.

Her photographic design will feature on the route 11 and 86 trams, which run through Bourke and Collins streets.

Millar-Baker’s work “confronts past, present, and future stories of Aboriginal existence within south-east Australia before, during, and after colonisation”.

“As a direct result of Australia’s colonial occupation, my family has had to make certain sacrifices,” she said in her artist statement.

“However, what was never sacrificed was our deep connection to land.”

“We rely on bushland for answers, for growth, for clarity, for satisfaction and for cleansing. Playing a vital role as the creator, I explore the inclusion of Aboriginal dreamtime story characters and totems, as well highlighting the contemporary indigenous experience of the physical country we stand on today.”

Melbourne International Arts Festival artistic director Jonathan Holloway said the designs represented the city’s “creativity and diversity”, while Creative Industries Minister Martin Foley said the project brought art to people.

“By inviting artists to turn our iconic trams into giant mobile artworks, we’re giving people right across the community access to some of the best contemporary art Victoria has to offer,” he said.

The designs will appear on trams until early 2019, and members of the public are invited to vote for their favourite art tram at

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