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'Raising the Rattler Pole: The Last of the Connies' by David Michael Bell - Public Artwork

Home > Melbourne > Art | Free | Outdoor | Street Art | Walks
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe to my articles. I'll update you with lots of fun and often free adventures in your home town.
Published January 4th 2014
Catch this tram
Photo by Paul Pavlinovich from the group Melbourne Photo Walkers*


If you happen walk to walk past the intersection of Flinders and Spencer Streets you could hardly miss this tram. Not that it is going anywhere fast. In fact it is a 6 tonne sculpture stuck in the ground.

It almost looks like it had plummeted off the over-head bridge and then become permanently lodged in the ground.

The creator of this eye-catching sculpture is David Michael Bell.

He has created a replica of the last W-class ( Tram 1040 ) the 40th and last tram built at the Preston Tram Works. These trams are almost an icon in Melbourne .

Yarra Trams currently operate the remaining W-class trams to service the tourist bearing City Circle route 35.



Rattler Pole is a stone monument to the memory of these trams and it is placed on its end to give that sense of "ruin" -- what we have lost, including the wonderful "connies" (conductors) who were often such characters.

According to an interview Bell did with Neil Mitchell he fully expects his art work to be graffitied over. However he is quite philosophical about it given his tram is part of the public transport network.

Photo by Paul Pavlinovich from the group Melbourne Photo Walkers*


But while not perturbed he he also mentioned that it was painted with anti-graffiti coating and that the City of Melbourne has a 24-hour graffiti removal policy.

The model is to scale. The frame is of steel and the structure is clad in plywood which he painted bluestone grey to look like stone.

It is perhaps best seen at night when LED lights provide a soft interior glow. One could almost imagine a ghost of a connie still inside.

It took Bell and his team 12 months to complete there gigantic undertaking and then the mammoth sculpture had to be craned into place.

A whole team of engineers were called in to supervise the precarious placement.

You can see a time-lapse video of the rattler's amazing installation, below.



Raising the rattler pole was commissioned by the City of Melbourne Public Art Program.

Photo Walkers is a group for people who love to create photographs in and around Melbourne.

Art and trams seem to go together in Melbourne. For an article on graffiti stops along the 86 tram route click here. To view the highly unusual performance art piece No Pants Tram Ride. Click here.

Lest we forget. (Image Wikipedia)
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Why? To see a Melbourne icon
When: School holidays and throughout the year
Where: Corner Spencer and Flinders St Melbourne
Cost: FREE
Your Comment
I think this sculpture is a bit weird, but then I am a bit old fashioned. It was great to see the Connies get a mention. My aunt was a connie for most of her working life. She was also Melbournes first woman tram driver, Joyce BARRY, and I am very proud of her.The girls had a hell of a time trying to become tram drivers as the men and the unions did not want them to be drivers. Cooch.
by cooch (score: 0|7) 953 days ago
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