John Brack (1920–99) was one of Australia’s leading modern artists. He was interested in describing modern life and society and often painted urban Melbourne, recording the city’s shops, bars and workplaces. Collins St, 5p.m., 1955, is considered to be both an iconic painting of peak-hour Melbourne and a social commentary on daily life in the 1950s. Inspired by his own experience employed by a city-based insurance company, Brack depicts Melbourne’s CBD at the end of the working day focusing on uniformly dressed office-workers travelling homeward. While the repetition of formal elements such as shape and line, and the muted colour palette creates a sense of the drudgery of nine-to-five office life, Brack also points to the enduring presence of the individual by personalising each figure.
Look at Collins St, 5 p.m. and use the following discussion prompts to explore the painting with your class:
Students design and create an artwork which shows their class on their way home from school through the following steps:
Students discuss the result of their class artwork: