‘Vires acquirit eundo’ – we gather strength as we go

Vires acquirit eundo

With another act of aggression lashing out against civility in our city yesterday, I thought of the city’s motto – we gather strength as we go– and I believe we do, as we become a large, truly cosmopolitan city. I would not have known our city’s motto except that the day before I looked in on the current exhibition at the City Gallery in the Melbourne Town Hall – ‘Emblazon’: Melbourne’s coat of arms’ (7 September – 30 January 2019).

Coats of arms and heraldry are a somewhat old-fashioned part of our genealogical wanderings. But this small exhibition telling the story of Melbourne’s coat of arms is worth a visit. The City Gallery is easy to find and too easy to walk past – located on the main Town hall frontage sharing its entrance with HALF-TIX … see CITY GALLERY WEBSITE.

‘Emblazon’ Exhibition. City Gallery window at Melbourne Town Hall, 8 Nov 2018
Sevres vase 1880. City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection (photo: W. Barlow, 2018)


The exhibition includes many examples of the ‘arms’ from street signs, street bollards, documents, a cast iron roundel from the old Eastern Markets, a Sèvres vase (1880) and three quirky takes on that vase commissioned by MCC in 2018. Our official ‘arms’ includes a fleece, a cow, a whale and a ship as 1840s symbols of the city. One of the 2018 vases, Yhonnie Scarce’s memorial urn, contains ‘symbols of lives lost since the British arrived’.

Our family histories are embedded in the social history of our cities and places. City of Melbourne can be congratulated for its City Gallery, and these quarterly exhibitions, which have been showcasing our shared heritage.

You should visit.

Gallery with 2018 vases by Brennan (L) and Wedd (R). (Photo: W. Barlow, 2018)

Bill Barlow


‘Emblazon: Melbourne’s Coat of Arms’, exhibition catalogue, 2018.

Exhibition Curator: Alisa Bunbury / MCC Art and Heritage Collection team.

Sevres vase, Sevres Porcelain Factory, 1880

‘Urn with Nature Pot’, vase, Angela Brennan, 2018

‘She gathers Strength As She Goes’, vase, Gerry Wedd, 2018

‘For the Fallen’, vase, Yhonnie Scarce, 2018. 

Post expires at 3:10pm on Friday 1 March 2019

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One thought on “‘Vires acquirit eundo’ – we gather strength as we go”

  1. One of our blog readers commented: ‘That wonderful coat of arms was on every blue enamelled street sign which were replaced in the Kennett era, in the 1990s, (when the MCC was sacked) with a symbol of a quill and since replaced yet again by a rather elephantine M.’ One of the street signs is in the exhibition. [ed.]

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