Calling for an artist and a writer to transform a station

There is an opportunity for two creatives to envisage major signature artworks as part of the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds Duplication.
picture of new proposed train station

Bespoke public art commissions have a dual purpose. They can act as destination waymarkers, but also offer a point of connection for a community. This is partly why the concept of artworks used to define transport hubs has become a global phenomenon.

Today, top international artists create sculptures, text works, video pieces and soundscapes at train stations, airports and ferry terminals across the world – and people seek them out. But the trend is not reserved for major cities alone. The Regional Rail Revival program (RRR) is upgrading every regional passenger train line across Victoria, and focus now turns to Marshall Station as part of the upgrades to the Geelong Line.

Expressions of Interests (EOI) are currently being sought to create two major artworks for the station: one is to be a sculptural piece and the other a written work. The EOIs opened last week, with the project to be delivered by late 2024.

Your invitation to create a major public artwork

Emerging and established writers are being invited to create a written text that responds to the industrial heritage of the site where Marshall Station sits. It will then be imprinted onto the hard surface areas of the station’s forecourt.

Dr Luke Diggins, Senior Creative Strategy Adviser on the project, explains: ‘We’re looking for any type of writer – a poet, a creative writer, fiction or non-fiction, a historical writer – to come up with 500 words. A small excerpt of their text will then be physically imprinted into the retaining walls and other hard surfaces at the site.’

He continues: ‘They don’t have to work out how it’s going to look. They’ll be working with landscape architects and designers to turn their text into a physical manifestation or representation.’

Most importantly, Diggins says, ‘We’re looking for people to bring a new interpretation of history of the site through the written word. The station site used to be the Grovedale Cement Pipe Factory. There were historical remnants of the factory found nearby that have been identified by the Heritage Council of Victoria as having heritage value. The pipes that were made here go back 100 years and were used to create the Barwon River Aqueduct.’

The second public art commission is a major stand-alone sculptural piece positioned at the entry to Marshall Station. Diggins tells ArtsHub that they are, ‘looking for a sculptor who is quite experienced at working in the public realm and being able to deliver a commission of this scale’.

He adds that the panel are particularly interested in ‘artists who are used to working with hard industrial materials, like stone or cement, for example, and through the materiality of their piece actually reference the industrial heritage of the area’.

Making communities better

These projects are big pieces of infrastructure, so how do you connect the people and communities that surround this new infrastructure, to this new landscape? Diggins says: ‘We find that public art and creative placemaking is a real way to do that, and that’s why we love working with artists, and in this case writers as well, because it gives a sense of community ownership over these big pieces of infrastructure.’

Alongside these new EOIs, RRR last week announced three artists who have been commissioned to deliver artwork for three key upgrades for the project. They are Wadawurrung artist Kait James, who is creating an integrated wall design as part of the Fyans Street level crossing removal; local artist James Price, who is developing a feature piece for the pedestrian overpass and ramps at the upgraded South Geelong Station; and Wadawurrung artist Billy Jay O’Toole, whose work will feature on the new rail bridge for the Surf Coast Highway level crossing removal.

For these next two commissions, Diggins says they are calling for artists in the Geelong area. ‘On all of our regional projects, we like to work with artists from that community, because we feel that they are best placed to actually tell the stories and respond to the local context,’ he explains.

‘We do quite a lot of engagement with traditional owners, and on this project, we have been working with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, and also Geelong Council to make sure the art that we’re commissioning is contextually appropriate. That’s something that we’re very conscious of – so we’re not coming in and commissioning artworks that don’t really sit well with the community,’ Diggins concludes.

How to apply

Expressions of Interest are open from 14 August through to 10 September. The opportunity is open to artists from Victoria, who should have a connection to the area. To learn more, visit.

The South Geelong to Waurn Ponds Duplication is part of the Regional Rail Revival program, which is investing in significant public artworks by regional artists. The process is guided by the Regional Rail Revival Creative Strategy, alongside a Creative Advisory Panel – comprising Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, Creative Victoria, the City of Greater Geelong, Rail Projects Victoria and the Djilang Alliance – which has been established to select each of the artists.

The upgrades to Marshall Station will be completed by late 2024.

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina