Australia

The sculptor behind Melbourne's Christmas windows

0:00

Christmas would not be Christmas for many families without a trip to see Santa and the miniature masterpieces on display.

Over the festive season, more than a million people are expected to visit Melbourne's Christmas window displays.

In the city's Myer department store, the illustrated children's storybook Alice in Wonderland is brought to life. 

The 2018 Christmas Windows in Melbourne
The 2018 Christmas Windows in Melbourne
SBS

Sculptor Apichart Chaipipath, who was born in Thailand and now lives in Melbourne, was part of the team that handcrafted the figurines on display.

The father-of-two modelled the face of Alice using clay, as well as the Queens of Hearts and her card soldiers.

The models were then digitalised, 3D-printed and painstakingly painted.

Sculptor Apichart Chaipipath's previous projects include works at Disneyland in Shanghai and Hong Kong
Sculptor Apichart Chaipipath's previous projects include works at Disneyland in Shanghai and Hong Kong
SBS

"I am really happy and joyful to do something, the details from the beautiful storybook Alice in Wonderland," Chaipipath told SBS News. 

"All the characters are very, very beautiful to do from 2D to 3D."

A clay model by Thai born sculptor Apichart Chaipipath that was used in the making of the 2018 Christmas windows.
A clay model by Thai born sculptor Apichart Chaipipath that was used in the making of the 2018 Christmas windows.
SBS

For Lauren Human and her two young daughters, the trip into Melbourne to take in the sights and sounds of the city at Christmas is an annual event.

They view the nativity, meet Santa and peer through the Christmas windows.

"The excitement starts in November when we start planning the trip and if we will invite friends or it will just be the three of us," Ms Human said. 

"It is really a big, big part of Christmas. Almost as much as putting up the tree itself.”

Lauren Human and her daughters visit a Nativity in Melbourne
Lauren Human and her daughters visit a Nativity in Melbourne
SBS

Ms Human and her parents migrated to Australia from South Africa in the 1980s. Free from the restrictions of Apartheid, Christmas outings became family traditions.

"There were curfews so that you were not allowed out after dark," she said. 

"So coming to see the Christmas lights and windows at night-time was really special."

Melbourne's 62-year-old Christmas windows tradition is the subject of a exhibit currently on at Melbourne Museum.

It features a miniature recreation of the very first window from 1956, the year Melbourne hosted the first televised Olympic Games. Santa is depicted competing in the events.

A miniature replica of the first Christmas window from 1956
A miniature replica of the first Christmas window from 1956
SBS

"There (are) some pretty funny Santas," said Rebecca Carland, senior curator of Make Believe: The Story of the Myer Christmas Windows.

"Fairly buff. Topless Santas competing in all of those windows."

Over 250 quirky and colourful characters from windows past are back on display as part of the exhibit.

Past Christmas window models
Over 250 models featured in past Christmas windows are on display at Melbourne Museum.
SBS News

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch