Taking a similar thematic cue to the work of Dutch photographer Henk Wildschut – whose recent book Shelter considered the improvised architecture of shelters made by the homeless as signifiers of dignity and resourcefulness – young Melbourne artist Joseph L. Griffiths’ new public installation as part of the Next Wave festival sets notions of survival and ingenuity against a failed urban model.
Set in the Docklands, Griffiths’ Shelters comprises structures made entirely from found and recycled materials sourced from the surrounding urban landscape. These makeshift sculptural dwellings and structures not only employ their setting as an allegory for Melbourne’s urban and planning failures, but aim to offer an intriguing new perspective on the potential use of urban space and the detritus that drifts and clutter in its midst.
At its crux, Griffiths’ Shelters – which opens tomorrow, Saturday May 19 – seems to advocate a particular sense of societal humility. Amid the misguided glitz and cash-grab developments of the Docklands, he dares to reveal the kind of beauty and functionality we can achieve with some hard yakka and a little of ingenuity.
Shelters runs from May 19 until May 27 at Conder Plaza, New Quay Promenade, Docklands.