Those returning to the city might notice something new at Birrarung Marr. 'Sukkah' is a new, temporary work of public art that has been installed at Birrarung Marr in a collaborative project between designer Zahava Elenberg and the Jewish Museum of Australia.
'Sukkah' resembles a colourful, fragile structure similar in appearance to a futurist cubby house or castle and is intended as a "symbol of community, connection and reflection". That resemblance to a shelter isn't a coincidence, with designer Elenberg explaining "'Sukkah' is a temporary shelter in memory of the huts used by the Israelites as they wandered the Sinai Desert during their exodus from Egypt. It is a place of memory and empathy for those who are homeless and displaced."
The transparent multicoloured sheets that give 'Sukkah' its magic are the work of Elenberg, who created the material (named Clikclax) earlier this year as a flexible physical distancing aid in workplaces and public areas. As visible in 'Sukkah', the material slots together and can be adjusted into many shapes, much like the 1970s toy Playplax that inspired it.
The installation was originally due to be unveiled in early October in line with the Jewish harvest festival Sukkot but was delayed due to restrictions. Jewish Museum of Australia director Jess Bram says: "As Melbourne comes out of its long and challenging lockdown, Zahava’s inspiring sculpture feels like the perfect symbol of unity and hope that we’re proud to be offering our city."
'Sukkah' can be viewed at Birrarung Marr until December 13. Currently visitors can only enjoy the structure from the outside, but as restrictions ease it's expected guests will be able to go inside the work. The Jewish Museum of Australia will reopen from January 17, 2021.