Hot dawg

On a wintry day in Orange (mid-western New South Wales) my graffiti-sensing camera picked up the ghost of a boastful hoon, faintly discernable through the sheen on the wet asphalt in the council car park. Street dawg 94 seems to be making a reappearance after being painted over years ago.  

The dawg’s inscription is autobiographical. He has written himself into the landscape of Orange. I wonder if he revisits the site to remind himself of what he used to be?

Pole position

Photo by Bradley L. Garrett

How did workers know where to install street furniture before the invention of the downward squirting spraycan? Can you remember when pavements were not dotted with instructions for the placement of bus seats, pram ramps, traffic signs, trenches and power poles?

London-based place hacker, Bradley L. Garrett sent this photo of promise and fulfilment. Congratulations to Brad for his geometrically artistic patience in waiting for the precise alignment of the shadow.

May Lane

The wall art in May Lane is often in the news. This time it’s on page three of the Sydney Morning Herald because there is going to be a national tour of panels from this laneway in St Peters, setting off in October. It all started about five years ago with Tuli Balog encouraging graffiti writers to do pieces on the wall of his picture-framing factory. Kurt Iveson has written about it in his book Publics and the city (Blackwell Publishing, 2007).

But the graffiti on the pavement in May Lane is never mentioned. Walk up and down the lane, though, and you will find all sorts of deliberate and accidental art decorating the gutters, along with the signatures of people whose wall pieces have long since been covered over.

POSTSCRIPT  – Since I wrote this post, May Lane has become the subject of discussion at Marrickville Council (not for the first time). Here’s a report by an onlooker of the discussion at the meeting on 9 November 2010. It’s on the Saving Our Trees website, although I don’t quite get the connection.

Eco-cycle rapists

This inscription has me baffled. Godot, the graffiti-spotting cabbie, saw it first and posted on his Flickr site. It’s in Wilson Street, Darlington, near Eveleigh, and it reads Eco-cycle Rapists. The style of writing is accomplished and familiar but what does it mean? Who or what is it defaming – or advertising?

(Eco Cycle, by the way, is the brand name of an electic-powered bicycle that has a “rechargeable lithium battery and electric motor which cuts in when you flake out”).

Wilson Street was a popular inner western route to the city long before it was officially stamped as such with the large white bicycle stencils. Dozens of cyclists earnestly pedal over these words daily. Do they notice them?

Crime story

Princes Highway at Brodie Sparks Drive, Wolli Creek, January 2010

See, there were these armed robbers being chased by police, and they ran a red light and crashed into another car, and two people were trapped in the wreckage. And the robbers, see, they jumped out of their stolen car, and … well, if you can’t read all this off the yellow marks sprayed by police on Princes Highway at Arncliffe, then you’d better look it up in the paper.

Road romance

Bulli Pass, NSW

Pavement graffiti is not confined to the city. A drive further afield always turns up something good. I was heading to Sandon Point, north of Wollongong, to look for protest graffiti on the ground associated with locals’ action to prevent development of the site. But on the way, at the top of Bulli Pass right where cars veer off the main highway at 100 kph to take the twisting descent down the pass, I found declarations of love: DALE 4 SHELL and UM 4 JODEE.

Only fleetingly readable, surely these messages written at such a dangerous spot
are evidence of great gallantry.

Mauvin’ on

That party in Enmore. It’s still going. Only at some stage it turned into a Bon Voyage Party. Having wished ‘Neill Bourke’ Happy Birthday the appendage-challenged gnome is now waving farewell. ‘Bye Bourkes XOX’, he’s saying.

The remote is by Numb (that’s Will Coles). The gnome is by Hazzy Bee. Thanks to Godot, the cabbie and graffiti blogger for this information. Here’s Godot’s Wallup blog, and here’s his Zombie film of Sydney Street Art.

Parkour in Macquarie Street

Macquarie Visions is a series of light installations on buildings in Sydney that “celebrate the 200th anniversary of Australian visionaries Governor Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie – the ultimate Sydney power couple” as part of the Vivid Sydney Festival.

We went along to have a look one night last week when the rain had abated, but as we watched the coloured words and pictures play over the façade of the Conservatorium of Music, I realised we were standing on what was, to me, a more interesting piece of text – Parkour is sexy. It was not easy to photograph in the dark with my little camera, but I had to have it. Pavement graffiti this large is unusual in the centre of the city.

How long ago was it painted? Was it done to celebrate some parkour event? And the big question – is parkour really sexy? For whom – the perpetrators or the spectators?

Alison Gooch

Here is a photograph from the archives. I took it in October 1999, before I owned a digital camera and when sometimes I took only one shot of each pavement embellishment I spotted. How I regret that!

This solitary metal plaque is just a few centimetres long (compare its size with the blobs of chewing gum on the asphalt). It’s on the footpath outside a shop in King Street, Newtown, south of the railway station and opposite the high school. At least it used to be there, but it disappeared when the pavement was upgraded some years ago. A number of people have mentioned it to me when they hear I take photos of pavement inscriptions and most know that it commemorated a girl (or woman) who was killed by a car that mounted the footpath.

Recently I tried to find out a bit more of this story. In the Glebe and Inner City News of 19 June and 26 June 1996 I read that Newtown woman Alison Gooch was killed when hit by a car as she walked along the footpath at about 3 am on Sunday 16 June. The car then hit a power pole before plunging through the front of the Direct Image store at 361 King Street. A 25-year-old Bondi man was subsequently charged with dangerous driving causing death and driving under the influence.

In the register of funerals at St Stephens Church, Newtown, it is recorded that a service was held for Alison Joy Gooch of Station Street, Newtown, on 21 June 1996. Alison was 29 years old.

I don’t know who fixed the memorial plaque to the footpath.

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