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Docklands bares its heart

29 Mar 2011

Docklands bares its heart Image

Docklands has a heart and it will be on show for the world to see this month via an unlikely collaboration between a local artist and a local cleaner.

On the surface, you would think that knockabout cleaner Leo Papagiannis and Goth artist and academic Merrin Eirth couldn’t be further apart in terms of artistic sensibility.

But their shared sense of community is the glue that underpins an artist-in-residence program which involves displaying Merrin’s work in Leo’s front window in Rakaia Way under the Aquavista building.

Merrin is a NewQuay resident of five years and, like many of us, came to Docklands to make a new start following a marriage breakdown.  Not only does she wear her heart on her sleeve, she is exposing it through her art.

Known as Dock-Hearts, the project has a number of aspects.  Merrin will be publicly creating works which will be displayed in Leo’s window for four months from April 1.  And she will also be setting up a non-permanent graffiti “Magic Light Wall” on July 2 and 3 which involves the community contributing via laser pointers.

One aspect of Merrin’s art is that it is being created with phosphorescent paint which means that parts of the pieces not visible during the day will glow in the dark at night.

Funded by a City of Melbourne grant, Merrin hopes the project will inspire other Docklanders to build community through art.

She points out that, unlike the “top-down” developer-commissioned public art that has become iconic in the precinct, this project has grown upwards from the grassroots.

“This shows that Docklands does have a heart, despite what outsiders say or believe,” Merrin said.

Merrin envisages Docklands as a “creative, lively place where exciting ideas and images materialise into tangible realities.”

“I sincerely hope to encourage further creative partnerships between the arts, the local community and corporate Docklands,” she said.

“Docklands’ heart is seen in the generosity of spirit that is demonstrated whenever you visit a local business or meet up with community friends for dinner or drinks in the local venues.”

“Additionally, it must be understood that many of the people who start small businesses in Docklands are courageous in their enterprise.  They take risks and are creative thinkers in their own right.”

“The heart of Docklands extends far beyond that which is overtly visible because it is an embedded community spirit.”

“We are fortunate here to have such a colourful demographic that is constantly expanding.”

Merrin was inspired by what happened in Newcastle, NSW.

“I was inspired by Marcus Westbury’s successful project, titled Renew Newcastle,” she said.

“It is an excellent example of how projects that encourage visible artistic activity can instigate a reparative, inspiring experience, that encourages business development, thus making a positive contribution to the local community, workers and visitors alike.”

Merrin is hosting an invitation-only launch of the exhibition at Berth restaurant in NewQuay on April  13.

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