Banana splits: inner-Melbourne council won’t commit to returning controversial fruit sculpture

A 1.8-metre public sculpture of an anthropomorphic banana in Melbourne that was removed for repairs may never be reinstated, with the council unable to commit to its return.

The artwork, which features a menacing skull facing Rose Street in Fitzroy, was created by artist Adam Stone and titled Fallen Fruit.

Erected on 8 November last year, it was bought by the City of Yarra for $22,000 out of a $100,000 grant bestowed by the Transport Accident Commission.

But within weeks, the banana was vandalised with a saw, in an apparent decapitation attempt. The incident was caught on CCTV and Victoria police launched an appeal for information to find the offenders.

It was subsequently removed for repairs.

It has since been replaced with a giant yellow pot with plants and flowers, created by Yarra based business The Plant Society, to herald the council’s upcoming Garden State festival.

“Fallen Fruit was vandalised and had to be removed. Officers are investigating options and no decisions have yet been made about whether and how it might be reinstated,” a Yarra city council spokesperson said.

Stone did not respond to a request for comment.

After the vandalism of his piece, Stone said that it was an “upsetting” act.

“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,” Stone said at the time. “You have to just let go and put it out there.”

The piece is displayed prominently on the artist’s website, pictured in place on the Fitzroy street corner.

Stone is a Victorian College of the Arts graduate, and a past winner of the Montalto Sculpture prize and Fiona Myer award. His banana themed pieces are part of a broader output that has been shown in galleries around Australia and Asia.

He previously said he hoped that with Fallen Fruit “people from a variety of backgrounds could find the work fun and engaging, and … perhaps consider the conceptual meaning of the work”.

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

The piece was described by the council as “eye-catching”.

“The sculpture directly references the 1970s phenomenon of oversized, kitsch roadside objects – the big banana, pavlova, koala, submarine, merino – constructed to seduce travellers and passersby to stop for a photo opportunity and increase tourism and revenue in regional highway towns,” a description that remains on the council’s website dicho.

“Fallen Fruit seeks to both engage with and subvert this tradition. The work does this by employing the symbol of the banana, anthropomorphised through the inclusion of a human skull, a memento mori to meditate on our western tendencies towards unsustainable desires and excess.”

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