Mornington Peninsula Freeway sculpture resembling necklace appears after Chrome Gnome moves
A new sculpture installed on the side of a busy Melbourne highway where it is seen by tens of thousands of passers-by every day is already dividing opinion.
The ‘Peninsula Pearls’ has been placed next to the Peninsula Link Freeway at the Sky Road off-ramp and will be seen by approximately 74,000 motorists each day.
The artwork is made up of 39 spheres ranging from four to 10m high and resembles a necklace, but is designed to appear slightly differently depending on the angle from which it is viewed.
“It might remind you of a pearl necklace, but it could also be a Ferris wheel… It looks like a molecular model,” artist Manon van Kouswijk told 7NEWS.
The artwork was selected from 174 proposal submissions for the Southern Way McClelland Commission and cost $300,000.
While many were happy to see a new structure at this iconic spot, others joked that it didn’t add much to the scenery during the drive.
“Oh wow! How exciting! Can’t wait to see this on my travels!…said no one has ever…” one person posted on Facebook.
Another said: ‘Another reason to try and beat rush hour traffic.
Its Dutch designer, Ms. van Kouswijk, has works exhibited in galleries and museums around the world and has lived in Melbourne since 2010.
Ms. van Kouswijk’s submission for the highway commission was developed in collaboration with Monash Art Projects.
Peninsula Pearls replaces a structure called Iconoclast, which was a collapsing tower under the weight of a boulder.
Sad reaction after the move of “Chrome Gnome”
The Peninsula Pearls is the newest addition to a series of well-known roadside landmarks.
These include Citylink’s leaning “Cheese Stick”, the fake hotel, and the “Bird with a Worm” sculpture, both of which can be found on the Eastlink.
But arguably, none have been as popular as the beloved “Chrome Gnome,” which for four years was located near where the Pearls of the Peninsula now live.
The 9m gnome was affectionately known as ‘Frankie’, got a lot of attention from motorists and Peninsula Link locals and then sadness when he was moved.
In late 2019, the structure was placed in the back of a truck and transported to its new home at McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery in Langwarrin.
After the Chrome Gnome moved, some of its fans posted posters of missing people.
“For a few years now we’ve randomly decided to call him Ian Fitzgibbon and then over time we started adding his name and he basically became a companion of ours,” said Brandon Harvey, a resident of Frankston, at 7NEWS.com.au at the time.
“So once we found out he was gone, we decided we had to do something to try and find him!”