Western Australia’s vibrant capital is awash with a diverse array of landmarks and art installations, but few are as unusual as The Containbow. Located in the port city of Fremantle, this kaleidoscopic construction features nine brightly colored shipping containers arranged to form a monumental arch. As with most pieces of modern art, it can interpret in many ways, most of which resonate with Perth’s maritime past, multicultural present and its pursuit for an environmentally conscious future.
Officially unveiled in November 2016 as part of a citywide endeavor to transform underutilized urban spaces into vibrant public areas, The Containbow was created by Perth-based artist Marcus Canning and assembled in the suburb of Fremantle. Interestingly, the city’s maritime history inspired his use of shipping containers while the sculpture’s bold color scheme was derived from the Rainbow Serpent, a part of indigenous Australian mythology.
The nine containers, were painted in a spectrum of bright colors and then stacked one upon another to form a rainbow-like arch, hence its name. The gravity-defying monument stands at a height of 9 meters and spans 19 meters across, and thus strikingly visible from several vantage points across the city.
The decision to erect the whimsical statue in Fremantle was no coincidence either, as this port town in the southern outskirts of Perth, played a major role in the region’s maritime history. Often referred to as “Freo”, the harbor has been serving as the gateway to Australia’s fourth-largest city from the Indian Ocean for decades now, leading to its diverse demographic makeup. Therefore, many assert that the sculpture’s multi-colored design is actually a mere reflection of the city’s cosmopolitan present.
The symbolism of the sculpture, though, does not end there, as the use of repurposed shipping containers also corresponds with the national strife for sustainability amid growing environmental concerns.
However, since its inauguration, the Containbow evolved into far more than just a sculpture to gawk at. In fact, dozens of events that take place around the arch make it a popular venue for festivals and performance, particularly among local artists. Its scenic location along the Swan River also rewards visitors who come here with sweeping views and sunsets.
Sandwiched between Canning Highway and Beach Street, the sculpture is easily accessible by car, with a spacious parking lot located just meters away. Alternatively, visitors can also reach the area using the Fremantle Line, with a pair of local train stations situated within a walking distance.