Imagine a City: Swanston Street Party and the Greening of Melbourne

It’s a February evening in 1985, on Melbourne’s Swanston Street. Down at the Flinders Street intersection, a road closed sign swings gently while a policeman redirects traffic away from the city centre. His elbow-length white gloves articulate instructions in frank, vaguely theatrical gestures. On the footpath, a metre-high pile of rolled turf is a sign of what’s to come. “No-one knew what we had in mind, there was a lot of scepticism, and so to unroll the event by laying out the grass was spectacular…” – Sonja Peter, co-designer, Victorian Government Department of Planning and Environment, 1985 keep reading

Looking Again: Tom Nicholson, Tony Birch and Royal Park, Melbourne

Let’s begin with a photograph from the Royal Melbourne Zoo archive. Entitled ‘A display showing an exact representation of an Aboriginal people’s encampment in the Bushland exhibit’ (1888; photographer unknown), it shows a family in a bark hut. A woman gathers her two children to her; one huddles behind, his (her?) cheek nestling into her curls, the other sits at her side. A man sits slightly apart, his blurred hands at work. Although it’s sunny, they’re all wrapped up in animal skins. On the far right of the picture a dog stands sentry, its tail and ears raised. There are…