Monday, August 3, 2009

When a Bridge Becomes Art

Melbourne 2008 Ajr
There are few things I like better than brainstorming and creative collaborations - for myself and in others – so I was always going to warm to Melbourne’s Webb Bridge. This collaboration between Melbourne-based architects, Denton Corker Marshall and senior Australian artist, Robert Owen crosses the Yarra River, providing pedestrians and cyclists with an imaginative crossing from Docklands to South Yarra. It’s sinuous, snaking form can be read in any number of ways – as a cocoon, a web (no pun intended), a fishnet stocking – although sculptor Robert Owen in fact, referenced a koori – a traditional Aboriginal eel trap – for his inspiration. On both my previous visits to Melbourne I have spent a great deal of time wandering around Docklands photographing its prolific public art and architecture and Webb Bridge has given rise to more photographs that I care to own up to. I love it – by day and by night. These photographs are less impressive because of the inclement, grey, overcast conditions on the day, but by night it comes alive. The Arup engineering team – in addition to creating the 6-metre high steel loops of the bridge’s spine – also developed a lighting system that highlight’s its ‘rib-cage’ and it night it almost takes on a caterpillar-like character. Not everyone likes the bridge but there’s nothing new about new art and architecture creating a controversy. Wherever there are people there will be disagreement about the merits of creative projects of any kind. I’m just glad this one actually became a reality. You can see photographs of the complete bridge on the Denton Corker Marshall
I of course, can’t help myself – I have to have my own creative play, patching different photographs of the bridge together in crazy panoramas that present a whole new range of (im)possibilities.

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