About the exhibition

Making the Metro Tunnel: reflections by contemporary Australian artists was an exhibition that aimed to explore and celebrate the construction milestones of the Metro Tunnel Project. It comprised commissioned artworks that responded to the project’s construction, taking inspiration from archaeological digs, heavy machinery, the aesthetics of worksites, worker’s equipment and other aspects of the project. Held at Domain House, the exhibition also featured work resulting from a creative partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

About the artists

The exhibition encompassed a wide range of mediums, from tapestry and ceramics, to cardboard, paintings and glass. Works included:

  • Troy Argyros intimate oil paintings on copper of important objects found in the project’s archaeological dig.
  • Kenny Pittock created an array of ceramics that also referenced the archaeological dig but instead of historically significant objects, he playfully represented items deemed not significant, but still containing clues to Melbourne’s social history, such as old beer cans and plastic straws
  • First Nations artists Jenna Lee, and Iluka Sax-Williams with Dan Bowran, transformed fragments of post European settlement objects uncovered in the archaeological digs into contemporary artworks.
  • A new painting was commissioned from Emma Coulter, related to her epic colourful mural that adorned the acoustic shed over the new Town Hall Station site from 2020 to 2023.
  • Sculptor Daniel Agdag created 'The Instrumental', his interpretation of a tunnel boring machine made of cardboard.
  • Michelle Hamer translated photographs of giant road headers and a concrete tunnel into intricate hand-stitched works.
  • Harley Manifold’s atmospheric oil paintings captured the activity above and below ground of construction sites busy with machinery and industry during the construction of the tunnels and stations, and
  • Chelsea Gustafsson picked up the common visual references that tied all the diverse working skills together – the highly recognisable items of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hard hats, high visibility vests, steel capped boots and safety glasses - into paint on hardboard.

The exhibition included work from a partnership between the Metro Tunnel Creative Program and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

Four Melbourne artists were offered rare access to the State Botanical Collection at the National Herbarium of Victoria. Artists Caitlin Klooger, Tai Snaith, Dianna Wells and Oliver Ashworth-Martin have created wonderfully diverse responses to the Herbarium collection. Three of the artwork concepts have subsequently been reproduced as major hoarding artworks displayed around the Anzac Station construction site adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria’s Melbourne site.

Step into Daniel Agdag's world by watching the video below and learn how he created The Instrumental .

Exhibition catalogue

Browse the Making the Metro Tunnel catalogue below to learn more.