The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is spread across two separate locations. The artwork, Mass (by Ron Mueck), is located in The Ian Potter Centre, Federation Square. It’s a great space, showcasing artworks on three quite sizeable levels. I visited with a friend and our primary goal was to see Mass. When you see the photos, you’ll understand why. This post will begin with some context on the artwork. Rather than write a long post, I want to include a gallery of images of the artwork from different angles.
As a side note, I was so excited to see Mass. I had first seen images of the skulls a couple of years ago when I think they were on display at the main NGV location. I was so disappointed to miss out. When I saw the artwork was returning, it became an absolute priority on my Melbourne to-do list.Read more: NGV: Mass
Mass by Ron Mueck
Mueck is an Australian-born artist who specialises in creating hyper-realistic, figurative sculptures. Aka, sculptures that draw inspiration from real things and look super real. Mueck is particularly known for his use of scale. This is what’s noteworthy about Mass.
First appearing at the 2017 NGV Triennial, Mass is basically 100 large-scale resin skulls. Why skulls? Mueck recognises that skulls are a significant symbol for so many cultures representing everything from ephemerality (lasting a short time, i.e. dying) to Halloween. In Mass, the skulls can be interpreted as representing the mass deaths in our time from, but not limited to, war, disease, and climate crisis.
The artwork is in two rooms. The first we went into had just a couple of skulls here and there. In the second room, there is a tower of skulls, with them all stacked on top of each other. I had a serious ‘memento mori’ (remember you have to die) moment in the space. It’s an amazing space to have discussions about so many challenging and difficult, yet necessary, topics.
Gallery of Images
We did explore more of the NGV but I want to keep the focus on Mass. For this reason, the rest of the post will be an image gallery so you can see for yourself the scale of this work. The Ian Potter Centre is accessible and open daily between 10am and 5pm. Mass is on display until 15 January 2023.