Christian Pearson – Art of The Underground

Words – Jerram Wurlod

Photos – J Forsyth

Christian Pearson – Art of The Underground at National Trust Tasma Gallery, 4 Parliament Place, East Melbourne, until August 17th.

We swung by the National Trust Tasma Gallery in East Melbourne to check out Art of The Underground. The photographic exhibition by Christopher Pearson it’s the result of about 5 years of documentation of the construction of the Northern and Main Melbourne Sewer replacements. You only need to glimpse the first few of these photos to realize this would have been an incredible subject to photograph. It could be easy to consider the underground construction to be somewhat uninspiring, however Pearson has ensured that it is anything but uninspiring. The vibrant colours of the lit tunnels and passageways combining with the symmetry of the structure with pipes and electrical cables snaking along prove to be instantly gratifying.

Pearson really captures the beauty of modern construction and there’s a fascinating sci-fi look to many of the images. We often consider natural environments to offer the most exquisite and intimate detail yet these works reiterate that we are capable of creating our own exquisite detail, even out of seemingly static mundane practical tools, objects and structures. Pearson shows us that when these elements are put together they create a unqiue symphony of colour and pattern.

The exhibition was presented by Melbourne Water and I have to admit the opening night had a hint of stuffy government feel to it which seemed to go against blue collar subjects in many of the photos. Often photos emphasized size and scale so perhaps a different space and some larger prints would have really set this exhibition alight. Still though, Pearson has done an incredible job of capturing a new chapter in Melbourne’s engineering and infrastructure history. The exhibition runs until the 17th of August.