That party in Enmore. Itâ€™s still going.Â Only at some stage it turned into a Bon Voyage Party. Having wished â€˜Neill Bourkeâ€™ Happy Birthday the appendage-challenged gnome is now waving farewell. â€˜Bye Bourkes XOXâ€™, heâ€™s saying.
The remote is by Numb (thatâ€™s Will Coles). The gnome is by Hazzy Bee. Thanks to Godot, the cabbie and graffiti blogger for this information. Hereâ€™s Godotâ€™s Wallup blog, and hereâ€™s his Zombie film of Sydney Street Art.
Macquarie Visions is a series of light installations on buildings in Sydney that â€œcelebrate the 200th anniversary of Australian visionaries Governor Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie â€“ the ultimate Sydney power coupleâ€ 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 faÃ§ade of the Conservatorium of Music, I realised we were standing on what was, to me, a more interesting piece of text â€“ 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 â€“ is parkour really sexy? For whom â€“ the perpetrators or the spectators?
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). Itâ€™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 donâ€™t know who fixed the memorial plaque to the footpath.
Look! Thereâ€™s a fight going on down the street. Thatâ€™s what this sign seems to be saying. And itâ€™s true. Thereâ€™s a constant struggle for territory going on in the streets and almost every sign, symbol, graphic and graffiti marked on the roads and sidewalks is evidence of this struggle.
I made a video (actually, a photo compilation) on this topic last year. Called Street Writing, itâ€™s been published in the on-line Interdisciplinary Themes Journal. Turn your sound on while you watch.
Hicks, Megan. 2010. Street fighting. Interdisciplinary Themes Journal, 1(1).
The â€˜Look fightâ€™ photograph was taken several years ago in Harris Street, Ultimo (Sydney). Iâ€™m delighted to say itâ€™s been added as a guest photo on the â€˜Submissionsâ€™ page of one of my favourite websites, Misplaced Manhole Covers.
In the month since I took the photograph of the mauve decorations Iâ€™m afraid they have faded considerably. But the party on the corner of this lane in Enmore is still happening. The disabled gnome has now become the bearer of birthday greetings for Mr Neill Bourke.
OK, the gnome and his party speech balloon are not on the pavement. I have allowed my eyes to stray vertically. But Numbâ€™s cement confections certainly are pavement graffiti. Hereâ€™s a photo of another one just round the corner.
Now hereâ€™s a colourfully interesting grouping of pavement and close-to-pavement graffiti in Enmore. A gnomish amputee in paper, a soda siphon stencil, a cement cast â€“ presumably by guerrilla artist Numb â€“ and mauve crowns and circles. Mauve is an unusual colour for pavement graffiti and not particularly distinct on the mottled concrete. Did Numb add these embellishments to his own work or was the violet (not violent) spray-painter an admirer who came along afterwards?
Starting point - Smith Street, Surry Hills
In the ten years since I became obsessed with pavement inscriptions Iâ€™ve taken hundreds of photographs. With so many to choose from itâ€™s not too hard to find examples to illustrate any point I might want to make when I write about the pavement as a medium for expression.
But what if I took a walk on an arbitrary route from an arbitrary starting point and photographed every picture, sign and scribble on the pavement along the way? Would that series of unselected inscriptions unfold as a coherent story?
I tried this as an experiment for the Open Fields forum at UTS (University of Technology, Sydney). I started in Surry Hills at a street with a very common name, Smith Street, and took a zig-zag route in a direction away from the centre of the city. I got as far as Waterloo, only about 2 km as the ibis flies, but I had taken more than 3 hours and photographed around 150 pavement inscriptions.
End point - Danks Street, Waterloo
I made a slide show of these Unselected readings in the order in which I found them. But hereâ€™s a confession: although I stuck to my arbitrary rules for the day pretty well, I did stop photographing every manhole cover and every wet cement inscription, because there were so many of them.
What did I find out from this experiment? Well, perhaps I will talk about that in future blog entries.
Iâ€™ve looked at manholes from both sides now, from down and up, and still somehowâ€¦
On 18 April I was lucky enough go on an underground tour of the Tank Stream. The Historic Houses Trust runs these tours twice a year in conjunction with Sydney Water and they are so popular that you have to enter a ballot to get a ticket. You donâ€™t go far â€“ just 50 metres upstream from the ladder where you descend into the underground tunnel. The Tank Stream was the original source of fresh water that determined the location of Sydney Town, but during the two centuries since then it has evolved from stream to open sewer, to closed-in sewer, and currently it is aÂ stormwater drain. Â
Harrington Lane, near Hunter Street, Sydney
Sloshing along in borrowed gumboots, instead of looking down, as I usually do when Iâ€™m spotting pavement graffiti, this time I was looking up to see what manhole covers look like on the underside. Afterwards a Sydney Water worker helped me identify which covers we had walked beneath.
Cavendish Street, Enmore
Admiration of manhole covers became a popular pastime in the 1990s. Â Mimi and Robert Melnickâ€™s 1974 Manhole covers of Los Angeles has become a collectors item, but their 1994 book Manhole covers and Jacopo Pavesi and Roberta Pietrobelliâ€™s 2001 book Street covers brought cast-iron style to the coffee table. The minor mania for manhole covers has culminated in book titles ranging from Designs underfoot: the art of manhole covers in New York City to Quilting with manhole covers: a treasure trove of unique designs from the streets of Japan.
In picture books the manhole covers are brushed up for the camera, but like Japanese artist Genpei, I prefer the look of them in their natural state, with cigarettes and Smarties and tsubo gardens of moss, grass or weeds nestling in their grooves.
Road resurfaced, Cleveland Street, Chippendale
My very favourites are the pretend manhole covers that mark the place of the real thing when a road is being resurfaced.
I also love the website Misplaced Manhole Covers.
Rest in Peace Ruben Hoddy
Itâ€™s a big old house divided into a warren of flatettes, in an increasingly desirable inner-westÂ neighbourhood. The last low-rent place in a street where the house next door was the first to hit the one million dollar mark ten years ago. It has its share of excitement â€“ the police, fire brigade or ambulance visit at least once a month, sirens screaming. Thereâ€™s often shouting â€“ in the house or on the street. There always seems to be rubbish piled out the front. Other people in the street mutter about how they wish â€˜those peopleâ€™ would go. But someone died there last month and someone cared enough to memorialise him on the footpath.