Location: Chapel Street, St Kilda
Duration: November 2012 to September 2013
Category: Public / Temporary Event
'FALLOW - Between Abandonment and Rebirth' - transformed two derelict inner-city Melbourne houses into a unique art installation. The project evolved after architect Charles Justin purchased the run-down dual site on Chapel Street, St Kilda, with plans for a multi-residential development.
After Charles met artist Robbie Rowlands, whose practice explores the life-span of everyday objects and spaces, they realised the site's enormous potential as a unique, temporary art space.
Charles was interested in examining the period when a building reaches the end of its life - abandoned, taken over by vandals/squatters, and awaiting either demolition or 'rebirth'. The project title acknowledged this process, whereby something that is exhausted and untended is eventually regenerated through the exploration of interlinking ideas; memory, history, ownership and materiality come under scrutiny.
Three artists explored this theme by creating interventions with the building's structure and content. They chose to develop the space in a sustainable manner by strictly limiting new materials and attempting to work with the existing fabric and objects. Each artist worked on two rooms, collaborating in the connecting space with striking emotive results.
Urban Artist Tunni Kraus blackened one room with dripped ink, whilst transforming the adjacent room into a yellow maze of colour. An archway carved through the fireplace unites the darkness and the lightness of these two spaces, highlighting the tension between belonging and owning, settling and settlement. Installation Artist Carmen Reid used items found in the house - electrical cables, mattresses, and other malleable resources - to fashion ropes that embody the processes of change and imply a dreamlike escape narrative. Sculptor Robbie Rowlands transformed the barely liveable by cutting into existing walls and floors to create sculptural forms representing the tenuous balance between destruction and grace.
When the buildings were demolished all the bricks were reused within the residential development creating a solid physical reference between past and future life.
FALLOW was open to the public for approximately 10 months and engaged over 1,000 visitors. At its conclusion, the buildings were demolished to make way for the new residential 'Arthouse' building. The development includes two façade art murals by Tunni Kraus that reference the historic shop premises. In addition, a photographic record of the art project is mounted in the lobby of the new apartment complex, memorialising this intermediate life.
Photography - Andrew Wuttke