Footscray artist Steven Rhall veers off the grid

The multi-layered history of an iconic Melbourne site has inspired the latest work by Footscray artist Steven Rhall.

Rhall is one of a handful of artists invited to take part in the Public Art Melbourne Biennial Lab at Queen Victoria Market, with the result unveiled this week as part of Melbourne Festival. He describes Gesture (70º East) New Day Rising, as an “intervention” that draws on the history of the site both in its time as a cemetery and before white colonisation.

A Taungurung man, Rhall said the work reconnected the site with the original landscape by orienting its lines and cross-hatching with Birrarung, the Yarra River.

“I was really interested in the visual landscape of this place … how the cycles of nature interacted with the landscape,” he said.

Rhall said the market, like the cemetery beforehand, run east-west, whereas the adjacent CBD “Hoddle Grid” follows the course of the river and the natural landscape.

His artwork in M Shed plays with these colonial grid lines, including clear panels in the roof to create shadows that will shift with the cycle of the seasons in the next six months.

Gesture (70º East) New Day Rising will be launched at M Shed with a performance event from 1-1.30pm this Sunday.

Rhall and fellow artist Kiron Robinson will join Biennial Lab chief curator Natalie King to lead a free walking tour at the Queen Victoria Market from 12.30-1.30pm on Friday, covering the projects happening as part of Biennial Lab.