Every day 100,000 people pass through Flinders Street Station. They stream up the steps, filter through Metro’s electronic barriers and scurry down to the platforms. Some may pause to admire the iconic clocks or the green copper dome, but for most it’s head down, briefcase up and go, go, go. This week, a group of artists implore you to stop and take notice of Flinders Street Station, one of our city’s most recognisable buildings.

For the last few weeks, Melbourne artist collective Contemporary Site Investigations (CSI) has been setting up for their month-long residency at Flinders Street and this weekend sees the residency culminate in a celebration of the secret heart of Flinders Street Station.

The project is curated and produced by Philippa Abbott and Campbell Drake of A&D Projects. Abbott and Drake were commissioned by the City of Melbourne’s public arts program and received support from Metro Trains, who allowed the group of 10 artists to use the space for the first time in decades. The residency is part of an ongoing solo and group investigation of sites that are abandoned, retired and are either slated for demolition or redevelopment. The artists have used spaces including the ballroom and gym to create audio and visual art that can be experienced on the platforms, steps and streets below. Now something of Melbourne folklore, these areas have been closed to the public for over 30 years and are being brought back to life.

Unfortunately, many of the spaces are off-limits to the public but CSI’s residency gives Melburnians an opportunity to experience the iconic station in a whole new light.

Robbie Rowlands, the sculptor who has set up shop in the gym, has used materials that he salvaged from the space to recreate a traditional boxing ring.

“When I first saw the gym it was a mess. The traces of its past were evident but overpowered by discarded office furniture, files, boxes of ties, watches, stamps – it was a hard one to consider an outcome for. Through seeing a historical photo of the gym in full swing, I decided to clear the space and kind of allow it to breathe a bit,” Rowland says.

The occupancy is as much of an experience as it is a show. Rowlands says that it invites the public to “Stop and reflect and consider their memory, perception and visions” for the Flinders Street site.

As well as Rowlands’ work in the gym, Elizabeth Drake and Caroline Almonte will hold a piano recital in the ballroom. The music will be broadcast through the dome and onto the steps below, where on Friday, paper boys dressed in traditional uniform will be distributing copies of a one-off printed broadsheet newspaper. Created by Campbell Drake, the newspaper will feature documentation, historical imagery and editorial about the station and is a historical reconstruction of a photograph of a 1950s paperboy, Michael Binney.

According to the artists, these site-specific works are designed to develop the work from the site, rather than for the site. The clock tower at the intersection of Flinders and Elizabeth streets will host a light installation from Friday, while an installation in the mailroom and two other piano recitals will take place over the weekend.

Events:
Friday October 19, 4pm–9pm
Opening/Piano Recital/Paperboys
Federation Square Screening 6pm–9pm

Saturday October 20
3pm Piano Recital Broadcast
9pm Piano Recital Broadcast
Federation Square Screening 6pm–9pm

Sunday October 21
Federation Square Screening 6pm–9pm

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