How quaint, I thought. Someone has etched an autumn leaf in wet cement on the sidewalk. Then I noticed another, and then a whole slew of them under an almost bare street tree.
On many blocks along Seymour Street in Downtown Vancouver it is permanently autumn, thanks to these almost inconspicuous installations that must have been put in place when the sidewalks were paved in the late 1990s.
Vancouver has many examples of street art, most of it official, some of it unofficial (though, as you would expect, graffiti mostly occurs at the fringes of Downtown, not in the centre).
There is an ongoing battle between cyclists and just about everyone else – motorists don’t want them on the roads, pedestrians (like me) don’t want them on the footpaths. The issue is a perennial filler for Sydney newspapers and has flared again this week in news stories, opinion pieces and letters to the editor.
In Australia, those who argue on the cyclists’ side point to the way in which cities in other developed countries have embraced the bicycle – but it’s not necessarily all plain cycling overseas. Apparently one of the great battlefields in the war between bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists is the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Robert Sullivan, calling for an armistice, writes in the New York Times: “The stripe painted down the center of the elevated Brooklyn Bridge walkway, to separate bicyclists from pedestrians, has become a line in the sand. We need to erase that line once and for all.” Here is an example where the record of a territorial struggle has been written on the pavement itself.
Almost every sign, symbol, graphic and graffiti marked on the roads and sidewalks is a claim for territory. The two examples photographed for today’s blog record instances where pedestrians have had a victory over cyclists, officially at least, and probably only temporarily. The ineptly obliterated bicycle symbol overpainted with a ‘Pedestrian traffic only’ stencil was on the bridge at the corner of St Kilda Road and Flinders Street in Melbourne in 2005. The ‘Give way’ stencils appeared in parks in the City of Sydney towards the end of 2008 after many complaints from pedestrian park-users.
I figured this sign was not meant for me. Some private joke or invitation, but still I was intrigued. Sat 1st? Yes, I got that – the previous Saturday was August 1st. Queen Street? King Street? Crown Street? No streets of that name anywhere near this spot, the corner of Ross and Hereford Streets, Forest Lodge (Glebe). And as for the upbeat insect? No idea.
A month later I found an answer of sorts in Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, some three or four kilometres away. A notice chalked in the same hand for Surry Hills Markets, always held in Crown Street on the first Saturday of the month. So the notice in Glebe was meant for me … and everyone else. But I still don’t get the ant.
The blue ribbon event of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was the marathon, whose 42 km route wound past Sydney’s most recognizable icons and through some of its most telegenic suburbs. A few sections of the blue marathon line have been left in place around Sydney, but only where they do not constitute a traffic hazard.
The line was removed from Sydney Harbour Bridge fairly soon after the event, but there are still remnants in several places. Traces of blue are visible on a lane line towards the southern (tollgate) end and also on a large number 3 underneath the arch. I took these photographs early in the morning on 18 March 2007, when people were allowed to walk over the Bridge to celebrate its 75th anniversary.
After the crowds have cleared the traces remain. The numbers on the road mark the starting line for the annual Great Goat Race in the main street of Lightning Ridge, NSW. The photograph was taken the day after, on Easter Sunday 2006.
The marked starting boxes are the only orderly thing about the event. With kids as jockeys and goats having minds of their own, the races are chaotic, smelly and funny.
Today’s guest spotter is Jeff Stewart – author, artist and sometime bread-seller at his local Sunday market
I love Lu Xun Park. It’s in Hongkou, Shanghai, and is my most favourite place on earth at the moment. Everything happens here – there is dance, tai chi, singing, talking, and sitting. Lovely, to me, and I can’t even speak Chinese.
People also write on the footpath there in water or chalk. They often write poetry, advertise their calligraphy skills, or quote common Chinese sayings. In the first photograph the man is writing characters in outline, which is very difficult.
Sometimes migrant workers write their story on the ground asking for help. They come to the city from rural areas and often have trouble finding work. The second photograph was taken after rain had blurred a woman’s story about her current living situation.
Jeff’s photograph of a man writing on the pavement in water accompanies his journal entry Translating Lu Xun Park on the Kai Xin (Happy Heart)website
At Federation Square in Melbourne Nearamnew is a public artwork that incorporates the cobblestone paving. According to the Federation Square website, it is a vast paving design with poetic text inscriptions where fragmented voices of historical and fictional characters can be deciphered in nine locations around the site.
In 2005 I found that a contemporary character had added an inscription to another location on the cobbles. I don’t know how long it had been there. Australia joined the war in Iraq in 2003.
Some people take huge risks to put their tags up (or, in this case, down). And some people also take big risks to get a photo. These two examples are on the Warringah Freeway near Naremburn. It’s late afternoon and most of the traffic is heading north away from the city. But in the mornings the volume of traffic over these tags is enormous. So they have an audience of thousands – if anyone actually notices them. What’s amazing is how long they’ve lasted without being worn away. The photograph was taken in May and they are still there three months later.
Canberra writer Doug Fry is Pavement Graffiti’s inaugural guest spotter.
Apart from a failed first year university class (and my weekly trash TV fix of Bones) I don’t really have any experience in the field of psychology, so I’m only making a vaguely educated guess when I say that the author/illustrator of this work is probably a paranoid schizophrenic.
The author/illustrator is a gentleman who appears to be in his early 40s, and his chaotic ‘thought pattern’-type works can occasionally be spotted on public surfaces – bus shelters, powerline poles, shopping centre walls – around the inner southern suburbs of Canberra. This particular work was done on the footpath along Macgregor Street in Deakin, not far from the local shopping centre.
I passed the gentleman in the middle of sketching this particular ‘thought pattern’ during a stroll to fetch some groceries in December 2008. On my way home, he was sitting on a nearby bench, his work complete, so I stopped to chat with him – unsuccessfully. The gentleman immediately grew suspicious of my attention, muttered a few words, and then walked off in a hurry, leaving the mystery of his works intact.