Empty-Nursery Blue: On Atmosphere, Meaning and Methodology in Melbourne Street Art

Fiona Hillary, Shanti Sumartojo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Empty-Nursery Blue was a fine art project in a street art context created by artist Adrian Doyle in Melbourne's Rutledge Lane in late August 2013. It was part of a set of curated works that aimed to explore how public art might affect place and its users, and thereby influence perceptions of public safety. The aim of this article is two-fold: first, we engage with scholarship on atmosphere and discuss visitors' reactions to the artwork, including their descriptions of it as “immersive,” “wondrous” or “destructive.” We argue that the immersive quality of the site's built environment and the project's “urgent ephemerality” generated embodied reactions that helped challenge perceptions of the laneway space. Second, we use this focus on embodiment and experience to explore the potential of public art practice as a methodology to address social issues concerning the relationships between people and their built environments. In the case of Empty-Nursery Blue, this meant creating a spectacle and then using it to engage the expansive community of Rutledge Lane.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-220
Number of pages20
JournalPublic Art Dialogue
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Australian street art
  • Australian graffiti
  • Rutledge Lane
  • Affective atmosphere

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