Take the train from Platform 8 at Flinders Street Station to Patterson, walk down the ramp and be prepared to meet a glittering crowd of mosaic faces spread up and down the concrete walls of the rail bridge that crosses Patterson Road.
Crushed mirrors glint in the sun and catch the colours of passing cars. Portraits of schoolkids with coffee cup handles for ears or noses provide a quirky callback to the café culture of the local shopping area. Elegantly tiled images with pottery inlays jostle for wall space with colourful and cheeky cartoon characters.
It’s a dazzling sight, and one that asks for many a return visit to take in how cleverly the artists and school groups who created the mural have combined recycled materials with mosaic and glass to form a beautiful scene below an otherwise ordinary railway station.
The Stationary Faces project was initiated by Melbourne artist Pamela Irving in 2011. She collaborated with 750 people from the local and international community to produce a 150 square metre artwork featuring over 500 portraits.
Arts Victoria, the City of Glen Eira, Metro Trains, VicTrack, the Department of Transport and Bostik all provided support for the project. Students from 12 local schools and the Chicago Mosaic School contributed portraits and put the mural together.
Friends of Patterson Station, a team of local volunteers, meet regularly to give the mosaics a clean-up, so that the faces are always in sparkling condition.
The mural has received wide recognition, including the 2012 Keep Australia Beautiful award for community engagement and upcycling.
Pamela Irving is a well-known figure in the Australian art community. Her famous bronze dog sculpture, Larry La Trobe has a permanent home in front of the Melbourne Town Hall and is a frequent figure in photos by city visitors. She has also created large scale works at Luna Park and the Shanghai American School.
Her recent exhibitions continue the themes of repurposing familiar objects to create fun, lively artworks that make you think twice about the spaces we inhabit. Birdology (2021) featured the Street Owls series, where surgical masks and street maps were upcycled as curious birds providing a watchful eye over Melbourne’s neighbourhoods.
Pamela’s gallery at 68 Patterson Road, Bentleigh. It’s across the road from some great places to grab a coffee, before taking the short walk to Patterson Station to see how many different materials you can spot in the rail bridge mural.
Find out more
- Visit Friends of Patterson Station on Facebook to see members of the community keeping the faces fresh and clean.
- For gallery opening times, go to Pamela Irving studio + gallery.
Article and images by Ilana Rochelle Genziuk for Ground to Ground.
Ilana is a product planner and content strategist from Melbourne, Australia
For links to previous work, see Courageous Content.