top of page

Two cities

A true lie.jpg

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. . . we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way’ – A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Two cities will engage with the public face of the city construction development site — 560 Lonsdale street. The aim is to call attention to the plight of endangered species and our impact on their environment. Using digital photography and Photoshop I’ve created my own narrative around two cities merging together. One is our society today and one is an imagined future where endangered animals from all over the globe walk amongst us, or perhaps inhabit our cities without us. However, It also could be understood that human activity colonises the habitat of wildlife and animals are disappearing from the earth. 

What do I need to do is to design graphic works to decorate the hoardings of the construction, and when I first visited this site, I think the location is a good fit for my research project. There are many international restaurants along this street. My friends and I usually have meals here. At the street corner is a tree, which seems to have profound history. Apart from restaurants, one can also find some small stores and a florist’s on two sides of the street. There are many pedestrians walking on the street, including workers, students and international tourists carrying suitcases. and what we need to do is to design graphic works to decorate the hoardings of the construction. I think this program and the location is a good fit for my research project. 


Walking on this street, I can see many sparrows, some of which fly under the desks outside the restaurant, some to the tree and some to the scaffold of the nearby construction site. Though the construction site is noisy, the noises cannot yet overwhelm the sounds of these small lives. I cannot help thinking about the past and future of this city. Therefore, I combine these animals’ photos taken during my journey with the street scenarios to depict my own narrative around two cities merging together.  I believe that both locals and international tourists have seen these animals during their journey, and hope that these images can arouse people’s memories and generate emotional care. It is also my wish that, while enjoying the favourable social environment, we can also consider the living status of other creatures on the Earth, particularly accommodating to the harmonious coexistence between the mankind and the natural environment.

Although graphic images have no practical function in solving environmental problems, it can have some psychological engagement and encourage the audience to realize the significance through the images. Environmental problems are not only a problem for scientists and some departments to deal with but everyone's responsibility. Each one should be aware of these problems and take the initiative instead of being forced to take action. Only self-awareness can maintain a long-lasting improvement.


‘The geographer David Harvey once wrote “the freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is . . . one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.” Generations of urban theorists, from Lewis Mumford to Jane Jacobs to Doreen Massey, have suggested that the place where cities get “remade” is in the public rather than the private sphere.’  So I think the living community public space can be the new exhibition space. Challenging the traditional display area and integrating art so thoroughly into life.

In addition, the context of urban construction as a location is closely linked to the context of my animal work, and the content of the artistic intervention on the building's hoardings may prompt the audience to think about our construction goals for a good society.

The presentation of the work is entirely in the public space, which has different audiences every day. This breaks down the usually closed hierarchy of power and property and opens the dialogue to all who use the space.

Environmental Art should be a platform that utilises art to help the public think about our collective future and what it means to live together. It needs to present the walking space that more closely linked to daily life. 

A small episode

I had an in-depth discussion with the project manager about the project title and its statement. In my previous statement, A true lie means that the scenery depicted by this image is illusionary, which, however, might happen someday in the future. The meaning expressed by this painting is also ambiguous, which seems to show that animals return to urban ruins after the disaster, or that the urban construction finally destroys animals’ habitat, thus leading to their gradual extinction. So there might be different interpretations of this artwork. But the above two interpretations can be regarded as a prediction of the future. Considering the installation site of this artwork, and the purpose of this project, the organizer proposed that I should modify my statement, for they hoped that there were not too many negative emotions delivered through this artwork. For example, they disliked the word “extinction” in the introduction part. In their opinion, the images in my artwork already provided strong implications, so they were eager to see my emphasis on animals’ return to the land, which would be more thought-provoking to the public. This artwork will be installed on the wall of the construction site, so the urban ruins in this painting could already arouse a strong association. Besides, this artwork contains street scenarios surrounded by walls. Therefore, it could be easily associated with implications for this region. Hence, in order to avoid too strong pessimistic emotions, we deleted “extinction” mentioned in the statement, and changed the title to Two Cities.

7 for 7 

This project is a research partnership between RMIT University (RMIT), Central Equity, Wonderment Walk Victoria (WWV), Multiplex and Future Tense.

It will be applied to external hoarding erected in Healeys Lane for the Melbourne Grand development at 560 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, engaging with the public face of the construction development site. 

In the spirit of the Exquisite Corpse, seven artists will be allocated hoarding which encases a gantry column. and each artist will refer one piece of the work from the previous artist as an inspiration to develop their own works. Therefore, once all the artworks are installed a person viewing them will see a subtle connection.

These artistic interventions aim to create a moment of pause in the daily bustle of city life. They are to prompt reflection by the viewer of what it means to live together and what our goals for a good society might (and should) be. 

bottom of page