Vault (sculpture)

Vault is a public sculpture located in Melbourne, Australia. The work of sculptor Ron Robertson-Swann, Vault is an abstract, minimalist sculpture built of large thick flat polygonal sheets of prefabricated steel, assembled in a way that suggests dynamic movement. It is painted yellow.

Presently located outside the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, it is a key work in Melbourne's public art collection, and of considerable historical importance to the city. Vault has weathered much controversy throughout its career. Commissioned by the Melbourne City Council in 1978 for the newly built Melbourne City Square, the sculpture was not even built before it began to attract criticism from conservative media and council factions, on the grounds that its modern form was felt to be unsympathetic to the location. The cost of $70,000 was also felt to be excessive. The sculpture, which officially had no title at this date, was given the derogatory nickname "The Yellow Peril" by the newspapers, a name which has stuck.

Installed in the City Square in May 1980, Vault lasted until December of that year, when its dismantling coincided with the State Government's sacking of the City Council. The Builders Labourers Federation consequently placed bans on further City Square work projects.

In 1981 Vault was re-erected at Batman Park (named after John Batman) and remained there in neglect and obscurity until 2002 when it was restored and moved to its current Southbank location.


  • Wallis, Geoffrey J. Peril in the square. Melbourne: Indra, 2004 - 2006

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