Episode 6 - Tram Art in Montpellier, Melbourne and Lisbon

Updated: Oct 11, 2019


azulejos - tiles in Lisbon which can be seen on the buildings 

commissioned - 

distinguishes -

engage - 

geometric - 

guarantee - 

iconic - 

inaugurated - 

motifs - 

specifically - 

swallows - a type of bird

throughout - 

tram - 

transporting - 

unveiled - 

utterances -

Hello everyone, welcome to Episode 6 of the Arty Anglais Podcast. The Podcast where I talk about everything Arty to help you learn English naturally.

(00:30) Hey everyone, welcome back to our 6th Episode. Today I'm going to talk about two things. The first is more to do with the way you learn and how reading is a critical part of your learning. The second part is to talk about a type of art that you might not necessarily think much about - tram art.

(00:58) Before we start - how are you going? I hope you're well and you're enjoying your day or your evening or maybe your morning. I hope you're also enjoying your English learning. I've been busy preparing for the end of the school year and I've also been doing a lot of reading as research for the podcasts. In the process of reading, I've been thinking a lot about how essential reading is for learning a language. Listening, reading, writing and speaking are all crucial parts of learning a language. Reading is critical because it helps you to develop an extensive vocabulary. Much of what we learn when we learn vocabulary is because we are exposed to it rather than being formally taught it. That's why I believe it's essential to find things you can read that you enjoy. If you're reading a book and it's a little overwhelming, I suggest finding small articles on something like the BBC. There is a good section of Art articles here too. You could also follow a gallery or museum which often has short articles or descriptions of new exhibitions. I'm quite a big fan of the Design Museum and the TATE Modern which are both in London and which both always have some fascinating articles which are relatively easy to read (in my opinion). I also just recently received a copy of the book: which is called 'There is No F in Art', and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you in a future episode. It has some exciting concepts and ideas about what makes something art. All the things that I've already discussed in Episode 3: What makes something Art?

(3:06) As you might know, I'm trying to learn French, and I also have an interest in art, so I spend a lot of time collecting things like exhibition flyers to read and watching small TV show episodes about ART. I find this so much more enjoyable than reading a textbook or revising irregular verbs. I don't always understand everything, but it's an excellent way to learn new and unknown vocabulary doing something I enjoy. As a teacher, I've realised a lot about Second Language Acquisition from reading widely about the work of Professor Stephen Krashen. He is a professor of linguistics, and he studies how we can be more effective when we are learning a second language. My French teacher talks about him and so does Hugo from InnerFrench (which is where I learn a lot of my French). And I know that being exposed to the language every single day is really helping my French learning. Even my teacher said to me today that she noticed that my fluency is much better than it was when we first started talking. I know that's because I'm listening to French every day (even though I don't always understand everything that is said.

(4:38) If you're learning English or any other language, it is worth finding more out about Stephen Krashen. In my opinion, Stephen Krashen believes three things that I feel are working well for me with my French learning:

1. The only instance in which the teaching of grammar can result in language acquisition (and proficiency) is when the students are interested in the subject, and the target language is used as a medium of instruction. For example, listening to this Podcast is an example of using the target language because you're listening to me speak and instruct you in the language you're trying to learn.

2. Acquisition of a language (learning of a language) requires meaningful interaction in the target language - natural communication - in which the speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances (so the way they speak) but with the messages they are conveying and understanding.

3. The most effective way to learning a second language (according to Stephen Krashen) is to spend as much time around the language as possible. The more you listen and read to natural everyday English, the easier it becomes to speak and write. You also need to be patient because not everyone can learn a language in three months. However, if you spend as much time as possible learning a language, by choosing things that interest you, I guarantee, you'll make much faster progress.

(6:30) I believe the same goes for learning art as a subject matter in any context. Art is not always everyone's 'cup of tea' (which means its not everyone's thing that makes them happy). However, we can find art in so many different things and settings. Art traverses so many different subject areas science, history, commerce, fashion! It's in everything we do, and everywhere you look. So even if you don't like art history or studying the art masters, there could be something else that interests you.

(7:18) Now here is a little activity for you. Take a moment now to look around you. What can you see where you are that is art, inspired by art, is visually pleasing, is shocking or is part of pop culture. Art and design are absolutely everywhere! You just have to look. You just have to know where to look.

I can list the following things for me in the very room I'm sitting in:

- There are Artworks on the wall

- The design of the football kit (playing outfit) for the two football teams that are playing on my television screen (soccer teams)

- All the different magnet designs I have on my fridge (there are many from all over the world so they are all so different)

- My shoes, my clothes, the plants on my desk etc etc etc

(8:17) See - art and design can be everywhere, including on trams! Which is our topic for today - tram art? I'm going to use three cities I know well to talk about Tram Art - Melbourne in Australia, Montpellier in France and Lisbon in Portugal (where I have either lived or visited a few times now).

(8:51) In today's Podcast, I'm going to try and talk a bit more naturally. I'm still getting used to recording my voice and making sure I can be understood, and I think I'm finally starting to become more comfortable (speaking) in front of the microphone, so I sound a little bit less like a robot and a bit more like normal me!

(9:15) Anyway, as you may already know, I live in Montpellier which is in France. It's in the south of France. I walk a lot here because I don't have a car so I take the tram when I want to go to the city. The tram system here is pretty straightforward to use, and it doesn't take long to get from where I live in the centre of town. The first thing I noticed when I moved here was how colourful the trams are! It's nice because the trams here remind me a lot of home, in Melbourne where I am from. Where I am from in Melbourne, we also have a tram system that is very iconic, which means it's well known or famous.

(10:10) So, a few months ago, I was happy to read an article in the local paper in Montpellier (while I was sitting on the tram). The heading read this: You voted: The most beautiful tramway in France circulates in Montpellier. It's true, it really is one of the most beautiful tram systems in France. Not that I have seen all of them! But I think they are pretty nice in Montpellier.



(10:34) So, let's talk a little about the trams in Montpellier. There are 4 different tram lines here. (See all the designs here) It's only a small city of just over 250,000 people.

So each tram line in Montpellier has its own unique artwork, and that distinguishes each line from the other. So it's pretty easy to know which tram line is which.

(11:02) The first line, line 1, which is the one I take often take into the city, opened in July 2000 and the second one opened December 2006. Lines 3 and 4 then opened in April 2012 along with an extension of line 1 and of line 2. So, each tram is named after a community member of the Montpellier community.

(11:34) So a little bit about each of the tram lines.

Line 1 The outside walls of the trams on Line 1 are decorated in blue with white swallows which are a type of bird) and it's designed by the stylists Élisabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti. It's a really simple design and the blue colour reminds me a lot of the blue colour that you see on the French flag. It's a really bright royal blue and the white wings of the birds stand out on the background.

Line 1 - Montpellier

Line 2 opened for service on 16 December in 2006. It has a length of 17.5 km and 28 stations. This line is coloured orange and is decorated in orange, yellow and green flowers. It was also designed by Mattia Bonetti. I think this is definitely my favourite tram line. I really like the simple design of the contrasting colours and the shapes of the flowers which make quite an impression when you see it from far away. It's a fun tram to see in the city and I can always see it coming from a mile away. Then there is...

Line 3 which was inaugurated on 7 April 2012 with a length of 23 km and 29 stations. Apparently, this is the longest tram line in France! The outside walls of the trams on Line 3 were designed by Christian Lacroix to have an underwater theme. There are a lot of bright colours and motifs of underwater sea animals.

Line 3 - Montpellier

Line 4 opened in July 2016 and this tram makes a loop around the city. Line 4 captures the sunshine of the Languedoc region which is the region around Montpellier as its coloured a golden yellow. The artwork was inspired from old engravings, with a blaze of gold set off by pearls, stones and jewels which forms the backdrop for a series of architectural motifs and these come from the Château du Peyrou and the Three Graces fountain, which are two nearby monuments so it really pays homage to some of the places in the city of Montpellier.

(14:25) I suggest you have a look at the photos of some of the different designs so you can see what I mean.

(14:34) But why is tram art so influential in a city. They form such an important part of the city. They provide us with a visual stimulus which is different from the normal mundane. Even now when I'm writing this and recording this I can hear the tram bell ringing as the tram zooms past my street. The trams, they are such a significant part of the 'urban fabric' (the city atmosphere). Tram Art is a type of Art that..well... I think it is often taken for granted. I doubt everyone stops to think about the significance of it as much as I do. But the trams provide opportunities to showcase the skills and talents of artists, but they also offer a way to engage the people of the city with current events. From time to time, the trams in Montpellier are decorated to advertise something happening in the city. In June - July this year the women's football world cup will be in France and Montpellier will host some of the games. So they recently unveiled a unique tram artwork for the event. Even the tram tickets have a special edition specifically for the event. You can see a photo in today's show notes.

Women's Football World Cup Trams

World cup trams tickets

(16:16) Now I want to talk to you about tram art in Melbourne.


In Melbourne, Australia (where I am from) the trams are an iconic part of the city streets. When I think of Melbourne, the first thing that comes to my head (after coffee of course) is the dinging sound of the tram. I used to catch the tram every day on my way to Uni and then when I worked in the city. I started to notice the different artworks appearing on the trams in 2013 when the public art program was revived. The Melbourne Art Trams is a significant public art project in Melbourne. The public art project invites artists to propose a design inspired by Melbourne's trams as a site for collective engagement throughout the city. Which means it's trying to engage the people who live in the city. Melbourne Art Trams is a revival and re-imagining of the Transporting Art program and this ran from 1978 to 1993. During this time in total, 36 different hand-painted trams were released at different times, across the Melbourne tram network. Yes - hand painted which means that the artists painted directly onto the trams. I imagine that would have been quite a big job.

(18:02) A tram from 1986 painted tram (pictured) by artist Lesley Dumbrell will be recreated in 2019.

Since 2013, Yarra Trams, the company who is in charge of trams in Melbourne, have supported the Melbourne International Arts Festival as well as local artists. The art tram project provide the people of Melbourne with a moving, public gallery on Melbourne's beloved trams.


Artshub said once:

Public art should stop you in your tracks and thats exactly what Melbourne Art Trams do - ARTSHUB

(18:50) So, Seven professional and one emerging artist are commissioned each year, and their artwork digitally printed on vinyl and then applied to outside walls of the modern trams. The eight designs are released onto the network each October as part of Melbourne Festival's visual art program. I think it's a great initiative because it allows artists to make a lasting impression with their art in the city.

(19:25) You can see a short video of the 8 different designs that were picked in 2018 in the Episode Transcript.

(19:36) So, in 2018 there were 8 different entrants, and in the videos, you'll see them each explaining their entries (see on Youtube.) The winner of the peoples choice award was Valerie Tang. She won with her design that celebrated the multicultural community in Melbourne. Valerie is only very young - just in year 9 (which means she was only 13-14 years old at the time). On her tram design, she painted several different colourful, geometric faces. I'll play a clip from Youtube where she explains what her design was and how she did it. You can also watch the video too if you follow the link on the episode notes.

(20:30) I decided on a more geometric art, rather than something lifelike because I wanted these faces to represent Melbourne and not just one certain person. I also like the idea of more abstract art as there are many possible ways for someone to portray their artwork. With various colours I have shown the liveliness and range of events that are enjoyed within our community, these bright colours also represent the varying dynamics of us who live in Melbourne coming together to create a fabulous community that works for everyone. First I sketch my ideas onto paper to see my final design. Later I used Adobe Illustrator with the pen tool to make the different faces which made the outline look more blocky and refined then I added contrasting colours of similar tonal intensity to my faces and background as it displays the diversity of Melbourne.

( 21:46) It's so great to hear young artists talking about their work. It's even better that she was able to see her artwork realised on the trams in Melbourne. Amazing, Valerie. Amazing work. I also wanted to share a second artist with you, Stephen Baker, who designed the bright red and blue tram. (It was my favourite).

(22:12) In my artwork, I've tried to capture the cultural diversity that I see in Melbourne

I think everyone has their own identity, their individual sort of piece that they bring to Melbourne. That makes up a broader kind of mosaic. I wanted this to represent me as an artist, a kind of artwork I create which is definitely about minimalising detail and creating larger sort of shapes that I see in reality.

(22:50) In the video he then goes to see the tram once it's finished, once the artwork is on the tram and you can hear his reaction:

Wow. It's definitely bright, looks great. Amazing. It's so amazing. So cool.

Hopefully it'll attract attention.

(23:33) Well, yes, it certainly attracted my attention when I saw last year. I recommend watching all the videos or seeing the different artwork if you're interested because each of the artists has a different story to share and they can explain their artwork much better than I will be able to. I'll put the link with all the images of the designs in the episode description. The entries for the 2019 program just closed on Sunday so I am looking forward to seeing which 8 artists are chosen this year and what their artwork will be. I'll share some more information on my Instagram much later on, and hopefully, I'll be able to take some photos when I am back in Australia later this year.


(24:34) The last place I wanted to share with you is Lisbon. As well as the beautiful Azelejo tiles in Lisbon, there is something else that's iconic in this beautiful historic city. The tram network. Okay, I could make a whole podcast just dedicated to the different art of Lisbon and Portugal, but that will have to be another time. Today I want to talk about the charming, old, pre- World War I tram models in Lisbon.

So, the number 28 Lisbon tram which passes through the famous tourist districts of Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela is the most well known. For visitors, this is the classic Lisbon tram journey, riding in a quaint, yellow tram as it screeches and rattles through the narrow streets of the city. If you've ever been on one of these trams, I'm sure you've wondered how on earth those trams make it up the steep hills in Lisbon.

(25:08) While the 28 Tram doesn't have fancy artwork painted on it, like the trams in Melbourne, it's so iconic that it is often the feature of several street paintings and postcards that depict Lisbon. The joyful yellow colour has become an iconic symbol for Lisbon. I even bought my nephew a t-shirt with this tram on the front. The tram route provides an interesting perspective to see some of the different Azulejo tiles, particularly around the Alfama district of Lisbon. While yellow might be the signature colour of the trams, and the 28 is the most well-known there is an old red version too, which is more comfortable and offers a guided tour to ensure you don't miss any detail along the route.

(26:50) Lisbon is also home to many elevadores which are trams specifically built to bring people up the steep hills of Lisbon. But the most famous of these elevadores is Elevador da Gloria which passes through an area of urban Art - Calcada de Gloria. There are a lot of exciting murals and paintings in the area. Arguably, it's not everyone's 'cup of tea' to see graffiti painted on the historic trams. However, it's become an iconic feature of the city, and the topic is certainly up for debate.

(27:34) There are still many people in Lisbon against graffiti in the city, and although the City Council has supported street art projects in many areas, it has also increased its fight against illegal graffiti in the city. I found out recently that you can't freely paint wherever and whenever you want. You need an authorisation from the City Council. The way it works is you present your project, and then The City Council decides whether or not it is valuable for the city aesthetics. If you get caught painting in Lisbon without authorisation, you can get fined or go to jail. I think this is very similar in a lot of cities.

(28:26) I must say, I have to agree that it's not always my cup of tea. When I was there last, I didn't like seeing the tram or the Azulejos tiles covered in graffiti. But I've always love to see graffiti and street art colouring cities. So sometimes I feel torn between if or not I agree with some parts of cities being painted while allowing freedom in other spaces. But then I always wonder who gets to decide that. So, it is a bit of a dilemma I sometimes have, but I'm still willing to listen to the two points of view.

(29:09) Anyway, I'm certainly looking forward to another visit in summer this year, and I'll definitely be going back to see the street art, that's for sure. Anyway, that's about all from me today on the topic of Tram Art. Do you have an artistic tram network in the city where you live? Or maybe the trains or cars. If you do, tell me about them. I hope you enjoyed the Episode today and listening to me talk about something a little different. I have lots of different topics coming up that I'm excited to share. In the next Podcast, we are going to talk about the art of science and the science in art! I'm looking forward to this because I'm going to be talking to a fun Canadian artist and I'm looking forward to chatting with him and sharing his work with you. I'm going on a short break this weekend to Norway. I'm looking forward to having a short adventure with some of my Australian friends who I'll be lucky enough to see. We are going to see some of the fantastic Fjords and have a road trip! I'll share some pictures of the scenery on my Instagram. I think it's going to be great. I'm looking forward to it. Thanks again for listening and I hope you will join me for my next podcast episode. If you're listening to this on iTunes, it would be fantastic if you could put a review on iTunes to help grow the channel and keep me motivated to keep making it of course. For that, I would be genuinely grateful.

(31:00) Anyway, I'll catch ya later guys. See you very soon.

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Hi, I'm Tara. An Australian English Teacher in Montpellier. You can get in touch with me by email info@artyanglais.com

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