Melbourne’s iconic art trams for 2019 unveiled

Moving Well | Sue Hewitt | Posted on 30 September 2019

Melbourne International Arts Festival unveils this year’s art tram masterpieces.

It will be a case of tram not train spotting when Melbourne’s much-loved art trams return to the tracks in October. Melbourne International Arts Festival will unveil the first of this year’s masterpieces on wheels on 8 October, with seven more art trams set to hit the tracks over the following two weeks. 

The first 2019 art tram, painted by Nyein Chan Aung, combines two of Melbourne’s great loves – food and trams  – in a work titled The Late Supper, an interpretation of the iconic Leonardo da Vinci painting The Last Supper with a twist. Tram number 3532 from the Malvern depot depicts patrons at Melbourne’s iconic late-night diner the Supper Inn. Rather than Jesus Christ and the apostles Nyein has painted unknown diners and his wife sipping jasmine tea.

Melbourne art trams unveiled for 2019 - artwork by Lesley Dumbrell

Melbourne International Arts Festival unveils Lesley Dumbrell’s stunning artwork for the 2019 Melbourne art trams project.

The work is based on a photo Nyein snapped of his partner Dr Thinn Thinn Khine as they dined at the Chinese restaurant after her late shift at a Melbourne hospital. “I hadn’t realised that the Supper Inn, which has been around for decades, is as much of an institution as our trams,” Nyein says.

Festival director Jonathan Holloway says the art trams concept celebrates the creativity of local artists and “the greatest tram network in the world”. “It’s artwork on a 40-tonne tram that is driven around the city for months. It’s enough to make you giddy.”

The Melbourne Art Trams project revives the Transporting Art program which first ran from 1978 to 1993 and was relaunched in 2013.  

The eight artworks in this year’s program were selected from a field of more than 200 artist submissions, with the art applied to giant tram-shaped decals. 

Along with professional and emerging artists, Year 3 students from Beaconhills College in Pakenham and Berwick also won a place on the tracks with their “welcoming” tram design. “It’s a riot of colour, a celebration of Melbourne and a welcome to everyone,” says Jonathan.

Another tram will be decked out with a recreation of artist Lesley Dumbrell’s geometric design, which first graced a tram in 1986.

They will be a fixture on Melbourne’s tram circuit until August next year.

Slides: Melbourne art tram’s stunning designs: Nyein Chan Aung, Gene Bawden, Kent Morris, Beacon Hills College Year 3 Collective, Sophie Westerman, Lesley Dumbrell, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Vandal.


Meet the artists onboard the Melbourne Art Trams project for 2019

Nyein Chan Aung

Nyein Chan Aung is an industrial designer and artist originally from Myanmar and now based in Geelong who created The Late Supper

Kent Morris

Kent Morris is a Barkindji man from Melbourne whose work is constructed from a single photograph taken while walking ‘on country’.


Vandal is a Melbourne-based mixed-media stencil artist, spray canner, paste-up and sharpie marker artist. Her work depicts the colourful Marbaamarbaa garingali (multi-coloured native dog).

The Beaconhills College Year 3 Collective

The Beaconhills College Year 3 Collective created a series of body shapes in a similar style to Keith Haring, to focus on unity and harmony in the community. 

Sophie Westerman

Sophie Westerman is a Melbourne-based artist who works with printmaking to create architectural landscapes. Her design is based on from a series of colour etchings.

Gene Bawden

Gene Bawden is an academic and practising communication designer and his abstract work Yours, mine, ours celebrates diversity and inclusion within the city of Melbourne. 

Nusra Latif Qureshi

Nusra Latif Qureshi has designed a tram that features a floral pattern from an antique French textile to pay homage to the title of Melbourne as the ‘Paris of the south’.

Lesley Dumbrell

Lesley Dumbrell, a pioneer of the Australian women’s art movement of the 1970s, will have her 1986 geometric design recreated for a 2019 tram.