The exhibition component of ‘Goodbye Kind World’ is located at the Metro Craft Centre in North Melbourne. Forums will be organised with the Australian Centre at Melbourne University.

During the months of July and August 1999, the exhibition will be available for public viewing in the main hall of the Metro Craft Centre (the old Meat Market around the corner from Melbourne University). Visitors to the hall will be greeted by the rustic smell of haystacks distributed around exhibition. Interspersed between the haystacks will be works by twelve of Melbourne’s finest artisans—their own ‘souvenirs of the 20th century’. Pervading the exhibition will be a soundtrack containing the lost sounds of Melbourne (‘Fares please’, ‘Carn ‘roys’, typewriter, etc.) And a catalogue will offer fanciful interpretations of the Melbournes in futures past.

There will be a number of public events during the course of the exhibition. The first of these will be a debate on the topic that ‘Melbourne has lost its soul’. There will also be two forums: receding Melbourne (e.g, Monkey Grip, South Melbourne, Carringbush & tea rooms) and emerging Melbourne (e.g., second-generation Greek, Koori & virtual Melbourne).

General audience

The works provide material for the kind of sentimental nostalgia that will characterise retrospectives of the 20th century. With so much rhetoric about the ‘challenges of the next millennium’, there is less opportunity to express what might be lost in the process of rationalisation.

This is experienced concretely in the loss of figures who once offered live services that punctuated the day with human contact. The last decade has seen the reduction of self-service petrol stations, bank tellers, automated phone services, electronic bill paying, etc. This loss is felt particularly in Melbourne with the replacement of tram conductors by ticketing machines.

In the course of such transformations, it is possible for extremist parties to emerge that capitalise on the resentment caused by these losses. This makes it particularly necessary to consider how the social contract might be re-negotiated.

Art audience

Recycling has become a dominant art form in recent times. Much contemporary art involves re-assembling off-cuts from industry into surreal constructions. In Northern Europe, designers have been attempting to develop objects that serve the aim of environmental sustainability. In Australia, particularly Melbourne, recycling serves more symbolic purposes. Used materials often have historical significance, such as timber taken from a demolished building. The resulting objects are almost like reliquaries: they contain fragments of a past made sacred by its loss.


Given the rapid social change that a society like Australia is experiencing, there is a rich material vocabulary of loss available for creative interpretation. Consider the replacement of tram conductors. This change puts into circulation a range of materials, including tram tickets, hole punches, conductor bags, etc. The abundance of these materials favours the production of multiple works that could be sold as souvenirs of the 20th century.