Love-locks become art

By Mindy Gill

Couples who fixed a padlock along Evan Walker Bridge some years ago as a tribute to their love can rest assured that, since removed, the locks are being transformed into extraordinary art.

After leaving the lock owners in suspense for more than a year, the City of Melbourne commissioned Craft Victoria to take ownership of the locks and create a public art installation.

Project co-ordinator Ramona Barry said Craft Victoria bid to take ownership of the locks and won the tender.

“We’re a small organisation that’s light on its feet and our members are in the business of dealing with objects,” she said.

The council removed the locks last May.

“But, because they meant so much to people there was a bit of an outcry,” Ms Barry said. “In the face of 20,000 people expressing their love, it’s hard to be cynical about it.”

Holding an open day for those people who wanted to reclaim their cherished memento, many flocked to Craft Victoria’s viewing space holding about 20,000 love-locks.

The remaining locks are being transformed into individual art pieces by five artists and will be on display for the general public throughout the Craft Cube Festival in August.

Artists have explored themes of memory, devotion, love and loss to commemorate this aspect of the history of Melbourne.

Photographer and sculptor Kirsty Macafee has immersed some of the locks in snow-white porcelain. Over the course of the exhibition, these coatings will be dissolved within a Perspex bath with water – revealing the underlying love-lock.

At his rural foundry, sculptor Dr Anton Hasell melted down 200kgs of locks and cast a harmonic bell out of the residual metal.

The bell and other artworks will be on display at the Love Locks exhibition as part of the Craft Cubed Festival from August 8 to 20 at Melbourne Town Hall and will later be part of a charity lottery to raise money for the Lord Mayors' Charitable Foundation.

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