Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gate Expectations

What The Dickens Is This?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


These are, quite literally, the gates that never close. They are gates in name only, for they never swing shut on their huge metal hinges,

As you walk up the main stairwell at Southbank here in Melbourne, the overwhelming impression is that of a wide open space. In a brilliant architectural marriage of design and natural light, you are presented with a broad expanse in front of you, leading to a high glass atrium and an arcade which in turn takes you through to an open-air courtyard en route to some famous workplaces.

But I'm tipping that I could show these photographs to many people who work in the area or who visit it frequently - and a certain percentage of them would not recognise the unique figures in these images.


These are the famous Southbank gates and each is about a metre and a half long. They are located near the top of the stairwell, just where the walls are painted a rich ochre that is redolent of the Outback.

Just for the record, the gates are never closed. And precisely because of that, some folk never really pay attention to the little figures atop each spike on the gates. If they had to walk through or around these pieces of art, people would remember them. But because they are in the background, they more or less form a mural, rather than a potential barrier.

I don't know who created the gates or how he or she forged each figure. But rest assured that when I do, you'll be the first to know.


For earlier posts in this series, check out The Doors Archive.

33 comments:

Daryl said...

Oh good.. gates are acceptable in this door stuff .. oh boy do I have gates ... this weekend for sure!

Jazz said...

Wow. those are gorgeous!

Maggie May said...

What strange little creatures. Would be very interested in finding out more.
Lovely bright background that sets off the gates/doors beautifully!

citizen of the world said...

What a cool bit of art!

Lew said...

Beautiful piece of work! And the color really sets it off. It looks like it could also be functional to close off the stairway for some reason. It is surprising how many things we pass by daily and never notice as we trudge along.

Sandi McBride said...

I looked at this and before I read what it was decided it would make a wonderful headboard...no, really...can't you picture it? Perhaps for the Giant of Jack's beanstalk acres, but a lovely headboard anyway! Thanks for sharing...I love the bright colored wall behind it most of all...
Sandi

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Fascinating ironwork! Very eye-catching! Love the dancing figures! Thought provoking . . .

Mojo said...

What the...? I'd be curious to know if there's any significance to the figures themselves or if they're just a fanciful product of the artist's mind.

Mine's a tad more prosaic by comparison, but I found it interesting at the time:
The Doors #5: "Personal Fowl"

imac said...

Im Nuts and Bolts about your gate David.lol.

Ananda girl said...

What whimsy! Delightful.

Artist Unplugged said...

This is such a neat gate with some unusual, whimsical characters...thanks for sharing!

Cheffie-Mom said...

Very interesting dancing little creatures!

quilly said...

And here I thought I was looking at demons and you'd found the gates of hell.

aims said...

Wow are those beautiful! Too bad they are hardly noticable. I too love the bright wall behind them.

Celebration of Life said...

Very fascinating pictures and narrative, David! The gate is awesome!
Jo

distracted by shiny objects said...

Great title...still groaning:>)

E said...

Truly whimsical. Looks like the figures are jumping around- possibly excitement?

Love the orange.

Sarah Laurence said...

How fun! The creatures seem to be in motion.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Strange how the concept of gates did not materialise until the 'big picture'. The detail figures were very interesting.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

These are lovely. It's great to watch gates like this being made, we used to have Victorian 'street' museum in the park nearby to where we lived and I would take the children to watch the iron monger do things, similar, but not as beautiful, as this.

jay said...

I think they're very beautiful! I think I would have noticed them, even if they're never shut. I tend to look at things like that.

I wonder if the difference is that we are photographers, and people who haven't trained themselves to notice a picture opportunity just don't focus on such things?

Cath said...

What intricate art work! I love the orange background too - shows the gate off beautifully.

Nota Bene said...

Great gates...but shouldn't they have a function as well as an aesthetic?

the eternal worrier said...

They are a fantastic set of gates. Round my way they would get stolen.

lakeviewer said...

Gate Expectations, indeed they are. David, I mentioned you by name in my blog this morning. What immense help you are.

Leslie: said...

Are the figures mythical? or aboriginal? or just an artistic rendering of some real creature? Whatever, they're fascinating! And I love that ochre colour! Really sets off the gates. :D

Pouty Lips said...

I don't know what the strange creatures are but they are very intriguing. I think they are aboriginal and they are celebrating a ritual.

introspection said...

Beautiful photos. Uniquely chosen and your narrative highlights the mystery of content. I felt 2 of the creatures (as Maggie May called them) in the second picture are in conversation - their moving tongues are carved in bright gold, which your Lens eye has focussed interestingly.

Bright solid background sets off the iron gate ...!
Curiosity is certainly aroused..!!

Rinkly Rimes said...

Definitely Bunyips!

ArneA said...

happy to see you are more clear of the gate = doors. At least Daryl´s comment opened some eyes.
Perhaps I shouls make photo of the Viking Ships that really opened the world for my ancestors.
My oldest one is Finnvid born around 857 at north west Iceland (Oyundarfjord)

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Neat! What a unique design. Such fanciful creatures.

Sheila :-)

cheshire wife said...

Quite a work of art and that background sets them off beautifully.

spacedlaw said...

Cute creatures. Well spotted.