Freeway sculpture installed in Melbourne’s west


Jon Campbell, Backyard, 2021

Wednesday 25 August, 2021

Melbourne’s public art scene has a stunning addition, with a new sculpture installed alongside the Princes Freeway in Werribee.

Backyard, by local artist Jon Campbell, represents a stylised pop version of Campbell’s childhood backyard in the western suburb of Altona.

Described as a linear, multi-coloured design, like a billboard floating in space, Backyard invites viewers to reflect on their own environment and the spaces they inhabit.

It serves as a visual reminder of the $1.8 billion Western Roads Upgrade project – the biggest single investment in Melbourne’s suburban road network, which has delivered eight priority upgrades including three new bridges over the freeway, road widenings, intersection upgrades, 30 kilometres of duplicated lanes and major road rehabilitation works.

Backyard was the result of an independent commission selection process run by one of Australia’s leading sculpture authorities, Melbourne-based McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery, which also manages the Southern Way sculpture commissions on Peninsula Link.

An independent selection advisory panel reviewed more than 70 submissions – many from local artists – before making its recommendations to Netflow.

The selection advisory panel comprised

McClelland Director Lisa Byrne congratulated Jon on his work, saying the sculpture will inform and enliven the experience of road users travelling between Melbourne and Geelong.

“Public art has become a highly-visible and memorable component of major projects,” Ms Byrne said.

Backyard echoes aspects of everyday life including sport and family, linking them to contemporary culture and history through design, colour, sculpture and storytelling. It embodies high aesthetic aspiration and constitutes a significant artistic statement for Melbourne’s western suburbs, and Australian sculpture more broadly.”

Artist Jon Campbell said the sculpture relates to commercial freeway billboards with its scale and composition.

“I’ve always liked the social aspect backyards bring to our lives,” Mr Campbell said.

“The backyard was a site of influential activity in my upbringing, playing cricket, family barbecues and birthdays. It was a space in which to dream and allowed me as a youngster to imagine hitting the winning runs or kicking the winning goal.

“There is a myth attached to the backyard and a strong desire to have one. Maybe the backyard is not everyone’s dream, but as a space for connection, contemplation and shared activity it remains a desirable and aspirational goal of suburban Melbourne.”

Netflow CEO Pedro Uzquiza said the art highlighted the community benefit brought by successful public-private partnerships.

“This art is part of a broader landscaping and urban design approach that has provided quality and sustainable public amenity and design across the project,” Mr Uzquiza said.

“In addition to Netflow’s support of key non-profit community organisations for 23 years, it is a highly visible reminder of the significant and long-term investment being made in the west and demonstrates the value that can be achieved through public-private partnerships.”