Large-scale banana art sculpture draws ire in Melbourne

The $22,000 artwork by Adam Stone has recently been vandalised after being installed this month

Residents in Melbourne are divided over a new banana sculpture commissioned by Yarra Council. Photo: Unsplash

Banana art strikes again. In Melbourne, a 1.8-metre public sculpture has caused a stir among residents.

Fallen Fruit by Adam Stone is a large-scale piece on Rose Street in Fitzroy that features a skull carved into a peeled banana. It was paid for by Yarra Council, which spent $22,000 out of a $100,000 grant from the Transport Accident Commission.

After being unveiled on November 8, however, the artwork has divided opinion among residents, with some pointing out that the money for the piece could have been used for community services and local businesses. More recently, the sculpture was vandalised after somebody tried to saw it in half on Thursday.

“It was pretty surprising and upsetting to see the work so dramatically vandalised, but also there’s not much that can be done when the work is in the public arena … You have to just let go and put it out there,” Stone told Guardian Australia.

On Friday afternoon, he set out trying to patch up the work.

Stone studied at the Victorian College of the Arts and has shown his work in Australia and Asia. He has also been awarded the Montalto Sculpture Prize and Fiona Myer Award.

Stone said Fallen Fruit has a conceptual meaning.

“I was thinking about hubris in western society and our obsession with unsustainable excess and how this affects the environment,” he told Guardian Australia.

He also said: "My ambition was that people from a variety of backgrounds could find the work fun and engaging, and … perhaps consider the conceptual meaning of the work.”

The Transport Accident Commission has responded to people’s concerns, saying that it would be clearer on spending requirements in the future.

The controversy around Fallen Fruit recalls the stir caused by artist Maurizio Cattelan at Art Basel Miami Beach in late 2019. The artist, who is known for his unusual, tongue-in-cheek works, taped a banana to a wall and sold it for $120,000. A total of three editions, ranging up to $150,000, were sold at the fair that year.

Updated: November 29th 2021, 7:36 AM