Public Art Commission Announces New Project Front Beach, Back Beach

An ambitious collaboration between PAC and Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.


Front Beach, Back Beach (FBBB) is an ambitious public art project that will take place in November 2022, bringing together the diverse communities, cultures and landscapes of the Mornington Peninsula. Eighteen leading Australian artists have been commissioned to make new work in response to the extraordinary sites, histories and communities of this spectacular region south of Melbourne. Co-conceived by Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and Deakin University’s Public Art Commission, FBBB will be a unique road trip for art lovers and local communities taking place across fifteen sites from Coolart Wetlands to Point Nepean.

FBBB has identified fifteen locations/contexts across 723 square kilometres that create a unique set of conditions for artistic response. The scattered-site event will feature the work of eighteen local and national artists/collectives responding to hidden and overlooked histories of national significance that channel our collective past and future. With a strong focus on creating new opportunities for community engagement, artists will work with targeted community groups and demographics in multiple ways, including research, co-production, participation and performance.

The stories begin with the landscape, and Traditional Owners, thousands of years ago, when Monmar became a sacred women’s place used for birthing, ceremony and initiation. William Buckley’s escape from the first official European settlement in 1802 is a tale of first contact, and survival, while few people realise that the location of the first shots fired in both World Wars was from Point Nepean (Monmar). National myths, conspiracy and modern political history were further shaped at Monmar, at Cheviot Beach, the site of Harold Holt’s disappearance in 1969, while other sites at Coolart Wetlands, Mt Martha Cove, Wonga (Arthurs Seat), Rosebud foreshore and Flinders pier and paragliding ramp, offer artists, performers and audiences the opportunity to explore the Peninsula from multiple perspectives - cultural, environmental, political, class, and gender. FBBB employs experimental creative practices as a conduit for local, regional and national audiences to learn more about the past, and at the same time reflect and act on issues that will impact on future generations like climate change, sustainable land-use, public health, and our relations with each other. Artists have developed responses that are playful, reflective, critical, subtle and perhaps sublime but all focused on a unique and potentially overlooked aspect of place.

FBBB is part road trip, part curatorial experiment and part exploration of how contemporary art in the public sphere can offer new and unique understandings of people, locale and time. A journey that firmly rewards the intrepid, FBBB encompasses the expanse of the Peninsula with all works reachable by car and accessible by foot. Guided by an in-depth directional app, you’ll unearth both its secrets and new takes on what is right in front of you. While for some Front Beach Back Beach might be a trip down memory lane to popular Peninsula landmarks, for others, this journey will offer compelling insights into a region that has dramatically shaped Australian identities and mythologies.

The fifteen site-specific events will unfold across the Peninsula in November 2022 and will be documented for an exhibition at the MPRG over summer.

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