Celebrate Melbourne

This activity involves using found materials to create a playful commemorative ‘trophy’ to celebrate Melbourne. This activity could be done in pairs or a small group.

It would be useful preparation for this activity to observe artworks in the NGV Collection Story – Melbourne that have been made to celebrate or commemorate individuals or events or objects, for example, La Trobe Centrepiece, Jug commemorating John Batman, Centenary birthday cake clock, Melbourne centrepiece, The German Triumphal arch in Melbourne. Margaret Dodd’s Grassed Holden in the NGV Collection Story – Identity is an example of a more contemporary and playful work that celebrates a cultural icon.

  • Construct the basic form for your trophy using cardboard and found objects such as plastic containers.
  • Embellish your commemorative trophy with decorative elements. These could also be made from cardboard, found objects or modelling clay. Use your imagination.
  • The decorative elements, and even the basic form of your trophy, could reference aspects of the city of Melbourne (history, architecture, landmarks, characters). The whole should create a visually pleasing and interesting design.
  • Paint your trophy to give it visual impact. Metallic paint could be used to provide a reference to traditional trophies, or you may wish to use colour to give your trophy a contemporary feel.

Your view of Melbourne

This activity involves creating an artwork inspired by Melbourne using a particular framework as a starting point for researching, planning and making the artwork. The artwork can be made in a medium of your choice. It might be a single artwork or a series of artworks.

It would be useful preparation for this activity to familiarise yourself with Melbourne, if possible by visiting the city. Research the city’s history, landmarks, character, atmosphere, stories and daily life. The activities and resources listed in the NGV Collection Story – Melbourne/Learning activities/Explore will help get you started.

It would also be useful to discuss the different frameworks listed below and consider how they could be related to a range of views of Melbourne included in the NGV Collection Story – Melbourne.

  • As you do your research about the city, compile a list of resources related to aspects of the city that interest you. These resources might include photographs, drawings, and notes that you might want to reference for creating ‘your view of Melbourne’.
  • Consider the following frameworks that each represent a different focus for artmaking. Select the framework that most closely reflects your interest in Melbourne. Use this as a starting point to plan and make ‘your view of Melbourne’. Other frameworks may also be used as you develop your ideas. For example, the formal framework, which focuses strongly on using visual elements and forms to create visual effects or communicate ideas, will have a role to play in all artworks.

    A personal framework
    • Are there aspects of the city or city life that have personal significance for you? Perhaps a place you remember from childhood, or a feature of the city or city life that evokes a strong feeling from you. It might be the pristine surfaces and polished glamour that dominate the cosmetic sections of major department stores, the routine of peak-hour commuting in and out of the city, or the gritty reality of behind-the-scenes Melbourne found in laneways.
    • Create an artwork that conveys your personal observations and feelings about the aspect of the city or city life that interests you. Consider how you will use art and design elements and materials to convey your feelings and personal response to the subject.

    A formal framework
    • Did you observe visual forms or structures or effects in the city that you found interesting? How could these forms, structures or effects be used as the inspiration for an artwork? For example, could the grid-like structure of the city streets or the dominant tones and colours in the city buildings be used to create an interesting composition for a painting? Perhaps there are interesting visual patterns in tiny details of the city, or high vantage points that could be used to create a series of photographs.
    • Create an artwork inspired by visual forms, structures or effects observed in the city. Consider how you will use art and design elements and materials to create an interesting composition.

    A cultural framework
    • What is distinctive about the city for you? The people, fashion, cafes, buildings, streets, laneways, daily routines, special events? How can this aspect of the city be conveyed in an artwork? For example, a series of photographs or drawings documenting city workers, the market, shoppers or sub-cultures.
    • Create an artwork that captures something of the distinctive life and culture of the city. Consider how you will use art and design elements and materials to create an engaging representation of this aspect of the city.

    A contemporary framework
    • Are there contemporary issues or ideas that are important to you and shape the way that you see the city? For example, you may be concerned about how large chain stores are impacting the unique character of the city, or you may want to explore the history of the city from the perspective of a particular group. How might you create an artwork that comments on these ideas and issues? Consider the different strategies that contemporary artists have used to engage with ideas and issues through art. These include referencing existing images or forms in order to present new perspectives or ways of seeing, or creating layered works incorporating found elements or text.
    • Create an artwork that explores a contemporary issue or idea. Consider how you can use art or design elements and materials to comment on these ideas or issues.
    Create a class display of the finished results. What different perspective on Melbourne does each work present? Reflect on the making of your own view of Melbourne. How did the framework that you started with link with your particular interest in the city? What other frameworks were important in the process of making your work?

Melbourne activities





William Barak
Figures in possum skin cloaks 1898
pencil, wash, charcoal solution, gouache and earth pigments on paper
57.0 x 88.8 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1962


Land of the Wurundjeri and the making of Melbourne, from marvellous to modern, told by the NGV Collection of Australian art.

Go to Melbourne stories
Psychogeography (1996); (1998) {printed}
from the Psycho series 1996, in The mutant genome project 1994-
type C photograph
120.6 x 258.4 cm (image) 126.9 x 278.8 cm (sheet)
ed. 1/6
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of Optus Communications Pty Limited, Member, 1998
© Courtesy of the artist

Landscape and environment

Australian artists explore, observe and respond to the landscape and nature, recording both the environment and our relationship with it.

Go to Landscape and environment stories
Shearing the rams 1890
oil on canvas on composition board
122.4 x 183.3 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1932


An exploration of identity, including historical and contemporary perspectives on national, cultural and personal identity in Australian art.

Go to Identity stories