Melbourne's 10 Stunning Outdoor Sculptures

Photo of Emily Honey
12 December 2015

In Melbourne, outdoor sculpture represents an expression of the local love for ideas and the traditional Aussie wit, culminating in artistic eccentricity with creations ranging from a homage to Captain Cook to a giant sparkling clam. You could spend hours trying to locate the coolest pieces of sculpture the city has to offer – instead, explore our list of the top ten outdoor sculptures, demonstrating the creative energy and dynamism of Melbourne.

‘Bunjil’, Bruce Armstrong / | © Gerardus/Wikicommons

Captain Cook (1974) | Marc Clark

Fitzroy Gardens, itself a whimsical scene scape of green trees – and perfect selfie backdrops – also plays host to a dashing life-size sculpture of ‘Captain Cook’. Tall, lean, and unmistakably green, this sculpture of the first British man to map the east coast of Australia provides a poignant testament to the bravery of early explorers, complete with a smashing set of bronze underclothes. From here, Cook devotees will enjoy wandering over to his cottage, which was transplanted in full from the original site in Yorkshire.

Fitzroy Gardens, 230-298 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne, VIC Australia, +61 3 9419 4677

Eight Hour Movement Monument (1903) | Percival Ball

For the more political amongst you, the heritage-listed ‘Eight Hour Movement Monument’ is a radical reminder of Australia’s debt to their working forefathers. A golden sphere atop a giant granite column, the three ‘8’s which separate the two elements represent the ‘8 Hours Work, 8 Hours Recreation, 8 Hours Rest’ successfully protested for by the noble Victorian Stonemasons, on April 21st of 1856. The site of this sculpture is therefore a fitting place to stop for a sandwich, a spot of mental arithmetic, or perhaps just to mull over the day

Russell and Victoria Street, Melbourne, VIC Australia

The Green Brain (2011) | Ashton Raggatt McDougall Architects

Building, University
Map View
Mosaic Angel
Mosaic Angel | © Rexness/Wikicommons
A striking mass of undulating green, the ‘Green Brain’ acts as the perfect crown for RMIT’s Building 22 on the corner of La Trobe and Swanston streets. It was commissioned in 2009 to link two pre-existing spaces and to add artistic flair and dynamism to the space, adding to the delightful melange of youth, creativity and ironic facial hair to be found amongst the hipster students of the area.

Mosaic Angel (1985) | Deborah Halpern

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'the public purse' by Simon Perry
'the public purse' by Simon Perry | © Gerardus/Wikicommons
When wandering towards the iconic MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), many a local would have seen the exquisite ‘Mosaic Angel’. A guardian of the river, her radiant, Picasso-inspired exterior was originally put in the moat of the National Gallery of Victoria. She now stands proudly on the banks of the Yarra at Birrarung Marr and her ten meter frame can be seen from all angles as she watches over the city’s inhabitants, arbitrating between feuding sport fans with a consistently haughty gaze.

Public Purse (1994) | Simon Perry

Looking not unlike a glimmering Kawaii clam waiting to be prized apart, the ‘Public Purse’ rests conspicuously in the Bourke Street Mall. Much loved and instantly recognizable by its shimmering pink exterior and accompanying gaggle of curious pigeons, it provides a striking tribute to Melbourne’s commercial prosperity and an interesting place to pause for thought. Whether it is a fabulous snail chasing after its next purchase or even a tongue being dragged to the next delicious coffee, deducing exactly what form the sculpture takes is only a matter of perspective.

Public Purse, Melbourne’s GPO, Melbourne, VIC Australia.

Sand Sculpting Exhibition | Frankston Beach

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Heide Museum of Modern Art
Heide Museum of Modern Art | © Magnus Manske/wikicommons
If, on a sweltering summer’s day, all this urbanity proves too much, one must make haste to the Frankston Beach Sand Sculpting exhibition. Running every year for the four months after Boxing Day (December 26), the humble seascape gives way to 3500 tonnes of sand pyramids, sand dragons and seventeenth century ships. The variety and quality of the sculptures is exceptional and though it is not free admission, the event does guarantee some cracking snaps and a fantastic experience.

Sculpture Park & Plaza | Heide Museum of Modern Art

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The sculpture aficionado would be utterly negligent if they did not take the time to visit the Sculpture Park & Plaza at the Heide Museum of Modern Art. Formerly the home of art patrons John and Sunday Reed, the history of the building itself is fascinating. There was reputedly lots of wild art and partner swapping in this particular venue and the sculpture park is breathtaking. Its scope and size allow it to take in works by the likes of Ron Upton, David Tolley, Dennis Oppenheim, Inge King, Anish Kapoor and many more. There are also two delightful artist gardens and a Café, where you can sip some Chai tea and allow yourself to dwell on the existential. Heide Museum of Modern Art, 7 Templestowe Rd, Bulleen VIC Australia

The Travellers (2006) | Nadim Karam

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Vault | © Jim/Flickrcommons
The redevelopment of Sandridge Bridge has seen visionary local planning combine with great artistry to stunning effect. Formerly a railway bridge, the 178.4 meter walkway will take you on a windswept tour over the Yarra River and through Melbourne’s diverse cultural heritage. From a distance, you can see nine of the ten huge steel structures skirting the balustrades, moving across the bridge in fifteen-minute cycles. These comprise ‘The Travelers’a representation of the immigrants who caught the train over the bridge from neighboring Station Pier – it is particularly beautiful at sunset, when the light dances in such a way as to make these abstract pieces come alive.

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