Public Transport and Pedalling as Public Art: The Work of Mick Douglas


Over the past ten years, artist Mick Douglas has developed a series of tramways projects resulting in an art that explores imagining a city and its sustainable future. These projects are collaborative in nature, and are formulated around the idea of a dialogue or exchange between two similar but different entities. Like the experience of a city by tram, these dialogues engage and disengage, occurring between cities such as Kolkata and Melbourne, between conductors and passengers, and between the act – and the metaphor – of being transported. The passengers in Douglas’ projects can be real (experiencing a performance by Melbourne conductors on a tram in Kolkata, India), imagined (exploring the modes by which the project operates, including a book, tickets, and a website), or even transplanted (the artists who decorate trams in Karachi transform a Melbourne tram). All modes are an example of project-based action-research operating through a psychogeographic vehicle, where the line between the audience and artist, and between the ride we all take to a collectively imagined future, is continually being inscribed. The project also has grown awareness of the importance of sustainable public transport and the essential social network that ensues from it, including in Kolkata where the tramways have been under threat.

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Marie Sierra has held numerous solo and group exhibitions within Australia and overseas, and won several grants and awards, including three Australia Council Grants. Marie is a longstanding member of the City of Melbourne’s Public Art Committee, and is on Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces’ Board of Management. She holds a Masters of Fine Art from the University of Tasmania, and PhD by thesis from RMIT’s School of Architecture & Design, focussing on green design and the idea of nature. She is currently Head of Sculpture & Spatial Practice at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.