Pamela Kleemann-Passi
Photographer & Visual Artist

Melbourne Art Trams

Melbourne Art Trams Expressions of Interest 2018/2019…

2018 theme: Melbourne’s cultural diversity… As a photographic artist, hair has been an ongoing source of inspiration and investigation in Pam Kleemann-Passi’s work over a number of years, hence the choice to wrap a tram with images of hair. The key features of the design were an image of a human heart created from hair as the central motif or metaphor, book-ended by images of strands of different hair types that reflect the ever-changing diversity and style of Melbourne.

Trams are at the heart of the public transport system. The tram network could be likened to arteries that move people from the beating heart of the CBD out to their suburban lives, and veins bringing them back again. When riding on a tram, individuality, beauty, eccentricity, authority and class distinction all merge together as commuters of all ages, classes, income brackets and ethnic backgrounds are transported to their destinations.

Melbourne is often referred to as the cultural capital of Australia. Hair is a powerful signifier, and is at the heart of much cultural identity. It can be a site or source of individuality, beauty, eccentricity, authority, ridicule or class distinction. Melbourne is such a multicultural city with hairstyles that reflect the breadth of the communities at the root of this exciting diversity. It is a city of style and hair is a significant contributor to that style. There are the various sculptural styles from the African diaspora, the dark, glossy, sharp Asian cuts, dreadlocks, greying locks, locks that have been bleached and dyed the colours of the rainbow, the spiky, shaggy styles of fringe dwellers… hairstyles and types that depict the vast number of cultural ‘tribes’ that inhabit this vibrant city. Essentially, trams are moving billboards. There is the movement of the trams and the movement of hair – in the breeze, at the toss of a head, or bobbing along as the trams trundle along the tracks.

This was a more conceptual rather than a purely decorative approach, to embrace cultural interchange along the route, as the diverse strands of society wind their way to and from the city. The strands and coils of hair were scaled up for maximum visibility whether the tram was moving or stationary. I imagined the hairy tram being a bit like a mirror reflecting the diversity of the people who are traveling on it. A colourful and engaging tram exterior, but intriguing and thought-provoking…

2019 theme: Melbourne as a welcoming and borderless city… The handshake in all of its variations as a symbol of welcome, acceptance and interacting with another in good faith.

These designs only reached the expressions of interest stage.