Ellen Benson as Artist-in-Community Residence at Travellers Aid, is proudly supported by the City of Melbourne through the Community Cultural Development Program.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

In the transit lounge: Travellers Aid’s emerging artists say its time to go…blank walls!

In Transit: Crowds, Time, Movement in Space is a collaborative project Ellen has initiated, teaming emerging artists from the RMIT Drawing department with disadvantaged creative people to develop a series of sequenced mixed-media panels to refurbish the Travellers Aid Spencer St location.

here is part of our drafted brief:

Revamping Southern Cross Station Workshop Brief

Workshop Location

Travellers Aid: Level 2, 169 Swanston Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia

Installation Location

Travellers Aid: Southern Cross Station


Teaming emerging artists, from RMIT Drawing, in collaboration with disadvantaged people (preferably youth) to produce an installation of canvas panels to refurbish and add life to our Southern Cross location. We define young disadvantaged artists as creative people aged 15 – 25 who are from either from a low socio-economic background, are homeless, are marginalised or have either a physical or mental disability.


‘In Transit: crowds, time and movement in space’

Potential Participants:


Ellen Benson

Artist-in-Community Residence at Travellers Aid, I am currently an Honors student in the RMIT Drawing Dept. My work investigates how universally, as humans, we scrutinise our surroundings. We desire to know not only how things work but also need to give meaning to, order and control all things. Sub-cultures and collective control bases have over time changed manifestation, shifting from a religious base to our present scientific and technological. I am interested in how systems of observation, simplification, classification, documentation and presentation are fundamentally flawed due to subjective bias stemming from socio-cultural factors, our access to resources, time and our understanding.

Paul Compton

Currently an Honors student in the RMIT Drawing Dept, Paul had a very successful show titled ‘Dead Dog Project where he taxidermined and sculpted colourful puppy plushies as a performative memento mori, reminiscing the loss of his pet when he was a child. 'Dead Dog Project' is a Zen-like contemplation of Death. At once God-like and innocent, Paul's physical manifestations of death are a kind of personal wondering, sensing and toying the idea of Death and its associated motifs. Compton's installations at First Site, Synergy Gallery and in his studio presented well observed dip-pen studies of puppy stills floated in murky, mute ink-wash voids paradoxically next to celebratory hand-crafted/altered and colourful mutt milagros.

Rebecca Delange

A Conceptual Installation artist who is about to have a solo installation exhibit at First-Site Gallery and is currently a third-year drawing/sculpture student at RMIT, Rebecca is collaborating with myself, performatively assembling and later dismantling installations constructed of found materials in expected public trajectories and architecture. Sharing a studio in the city, we discovered we have a shared interest in the Individual and Collective Body in relation to Space, Time and Movement. We consider what is private, what is public what is paradoxically both.

Elyss McCleary

Artist disability support worker, currently a second-year student at RMIT. Recently Elyss had a very successful solo show at First Site Gallery titled ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’, which was inspired by crowds of people and how they collect and disperse; individuals with their habits, their posture, in controlled and uncontrolled environments – suddenly all grouped together in a crowd in random or planned gatherings. The mark-making process of adding and subtracting figures creates a visual history of continual movement in space, evoking abstraction and intimacy.

Equipment Required:


(Sian and I, to find most affordable option for canvases

Best to use reasonable quality art materials – for archival materials I recommend Melbourne artist supplies – could also use mixed-matched house paints as they are economical)

  • Large Canvases
  • An array of Wet and Dry Media including guesso, acrylic, graphite, inks, coloured pencils, assorted brushes etc.
  • Dropsheet and Masking Tape


  • Hanging Materials – wire, nails, hooks etc.
  • Ladder
  • Measuring Tape


  • Avant Cards – developed from photos of each panel? (costly, money can be made back via sale of the souvenir art cards)
  • Free press – the leader, the program, the blog, art websites etc.

Staff and Volunteer Involvement:

  • Volunteer support worker/s on hand to give ‘one on one’ assistance to any disabled participants involved that have special requirements.

  • Front-desk volunteers to be utilised as a point of call for potential interest. Front-desk could house brochures advertising the project.

  • Our internal case managers may be able to recommend potential participants and be able to suggest how to best facilitate their personal needs.

  • Our contact from Melbourne City Mission has offered to provide contacts from emergency crisis centers/ youth services that can help enable us source more participants and promote the project. It is also worth noting that staff from Frontyard also seemed enthusiastic to get involved in the creative side of the project.

Workshop Timetable:

(One Full Day – suggest a Saturday)

10.00am Meet at Travellers Café, have introductions – brief participants ‘In Transit: Crowds, Time and Movement in Space’ concept over tea/coffee

10:30am Lay down drop sheets – tape to wall – pin to ground set up workstations with a bucket of materials and set up pre-guesso canvas panels in a sequential manner on one wall

10:45am Set up overhead projector facing the panels – project transit photos taken of crowds at Southern Cross Station – in pairs discuss how we can use the projected imagery. Let the disadvantaged artists relatively freely work on panels for 2 hours, mentors on hand for advice.

12:45pm Lunch Break – step back from the installation and discuss individual panels and what amendments need to be made to unify as a sequential work. Be sure to photo-document sequential panels at this stage.

1:30pm Work in pairs Emerging Artist/Disadvantaged Artist to unify for an additional 2 hours.

3:30pm Finale - coffee and biscuits, thank you and participant reference letters to be handed out to participating artists for their contribution

4:00pm Emerging artists get an additional hour to unify panels. Pack up drop sheets, leave to dry.

Installing at Southern Cross Station:

(approx 3 hours work)

  • Unifying and adding a professional finish using double-sided tape to attach velvet ribbon around side-edge of the canvas in a matching palette colour – (probably the colour most used in the work). Two people on hand to attach hanging wire, pins and hooks to canvas.

  • At least two people on hand equipped with ladder, measuring tape, level and nails to hang work.

  • Photo-documentation of works, artists involved and staff of Southern Cross station.

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