There are traces of love through all our cities. Some remarkable, some unremarkable, some marked and others not. Love locks are but one manifestation of these deep feelings, and the phenomenon exists in cities around the world: Juliet’s balcony in Verona, Suseong Lake in South Korea, and formerly, Pont des Arts in Paris and the Evan Walker Bridge in Melbourne.
So when the City of Melbourne had to remove some 20,0000 locks from the Evan Walker Bridge due to structural concerns, they didn’t want these messages to disappear, and quite generously gave the locks to six artists, commissioned by Craft Victoria, to be part of an exhibition project, Love Locks.
Each of the six artists that are part of the project have responded to the idea of love and the traces of devotion, history and longing in the original material. The locks themselves already carried a great capacity for evoking emotion, with quite diverse meanings and histories. As Craft Victoria’s retail and commissions manager Sarah Weston says, “They have huge sentimental value attached to them, and there were some really intimate stories about love and relationships. But also stories about loss, and about gay marriage, and wanting to be together but not being able to be together. So there’s such a breadth of emotion attached to these locks.”
Artists have repurposed the locks into sculptures, design objects, sound objects and even a film. Showing as part of the project at Melbourne Town Hall, Arie Rain Glorie’s film, Forever, You are Mine, will examine the locks through moving image, while Anton Hasell has re-cast the metal into a harmonic bell. Katheryn Leopoldseder uses the concept of ritual and tradition in a large-scale necklace, and Kirsty Macafee has re-cast locks in porcelain, retaining their original marks and engravings. Other artists include Elise Sheehan, Louiseann King and Kristian King, but of course, the work also involves the public who engaged with the phenomenon, in a bid to hold on to their love.
Melbourne Town Hall
8 August – 20 August