Digital photograph of the first installation of a crocheted face mask on Julia Gillard's statue, made by anonymous Ballarat street artist 'Mrs Nanna-Technology' aka 'Mrs Nanna-Technologist' or Mrs Banksia OBE (Over Bloody Eighty). The masks were placed on the bronze bust of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in the Ballarat Botanic Gardens Prime Minister Avenue during the first Covid-19 lockdown and State of Emergency in Victoria in April 2020. No masks were made for any other former Prime Minister statues as part of this project and after the story was picked up by the media, Julia Gillard, now president of Beyond Blue, tweeted her thanks to Mrs Nanna-Technology for keeping her safe.
Mrs Nanna-Technology would covertly install the masks which were later taken down by Botanic Gardens staff. In the end, the artist put the masks up temporarily and then took them down herself, so that people could enjoy what was ultimately an ephemeral installation, but she didn't have to keep stitching new masks.
There have been many interactions, installations, and graffiti of the statues in Prime Minster Avenue since the avenue was created in 1940. Notably the 'Onion King' crown made for the Tony Abbott statue, beheaded PMs, and only weeks after Mrs Nanna-Technology's Covid intervention, the statues of Tony Abbott and John Howard were graffitied and closed off to the public, as a result of anticolonial, antiracist Black Lives Matter protests and discussion centring on the damaging and racist tone of colonial public monuments. Despite the illegality of interfering with the statuary in the gardens, after Melbourne Metro's second stage 3 lockdown was enforced, Ballarat councillors posed for a photograph with the masked statue of Prime Minister Billy Hughes decked out in a disposable surgical mask, encouraging residents to wear masks to keep Ballarat free of the virus.
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Bronze bust of Julia Gillard on plinth in garden, with orange crocheted facemask tied over the face.
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