Saturday, September 13, 2008

Spring in East Melbourne

I took a spring walk around East Melbourne this morning.

First I cut across the Eastern Side of the Fitzroy Gardens.

A square tempietto (small temple) or 'The Old Bandstand' as it is usually described, is a beautiful sculptural form. You can see that on the side facing me there are two pilasters with a sort of Egyptian inspired capital, on the entrance side the columns are free standing. I often see weddings here, though on my return through the park it was being used as a stage for some boxing practice. I love architectural features in gardens, but they seemed to have died out in the last 100 years in favour of sculpture. It is architecture simply for architecture's sake, for the enjoyment of looking at columns and capitals. Unlike a sculpture it can often be entered into, an experience which can change the way you see the space. For instance you can stand and look at the garden framed by the columns, actually I should have taken a photo of that! It can also be an expression of architectural creativity, without the constraints of function.

Next are the sculptures that adorn the Eastern entrance on Hotham St. These were designed by William Leslie Bowles, who also designed the statue of Diana and the Hounds which stands outside the Conservatory. The sculptures, creatively titled 'Mermaid and Fish' and 'Boy and Pelican', won the sculpture competition held in the gardens in 1935. I think it is a wonderful time to look at sandstone sculpture, when the sun falls upon it it almost shines deep ochre which is set off against the green of trees and grass and the blue sky that has finally returned to Melbourne.
The statues exhibit the streamlined classicism typical of Melbourne Art Deco.

Art Deco Apartments on on Powlett St. I don't know much about these apartments construction but I would guess a date in the 1930s. Two buildings curve to meet in the middle and create a semi-circlular garden area. The brickwork is delicate, not the way slightly darker brick on the entrance tower which give the pattern a rhythm and make it stand out from the main wing.
I also like the pared back classicism of the entranceway. With so many wonderful examples of apartments in Melbourne it upsets me that most modern ones are so atrocious. Not only is their appearance dull and uninspired but they lack good design. Here are a set of apartment which give an outlook onto a garden, most apartment must have windows on both sides so have good light and so on. My modern apartment rant must wait till another day.

Finally some blossoms on Hotham St. The wisteria (below) will be around for a while, but I though I should capture some cherry blossoms before the spring winds toss them away.


  1. 'The Old Bandstand', so square, really is lovely and is something I have never seen in any Melbourne garden before. So now I would love to know if it was originally intended to be used as a bandstand, or is just decorative.

    Happy new year

  2. Hi Hels, it is unusual for a bandstand, the rotunda types (like that in Edinburgh Gardens) are definitely more common. I used the name as I have seen it referred to as the 'bandstand' elsewhere but I'm not sure if it was intended to be used or decorative. I think stylistically it fits with the other early pieces in the gardens like the ionic temple and the classical sculptures that used to be there. A very classical theme. Perhaps it was intended simply as another 'temple' building but was appropriated as a bandstand.

    Happy New Year to you too.


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