To my regular readers and to those just passing by â€“ many thanks for your interest, your comments, your emails, your tip-offs and your photos.
Best wishes for the year ahead and may you continue to enjoy finding surprises on the pavement.
To-dayâ€™s photograph was taken this time last year in Belmont Road, Mosman, NSW.
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? Â 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 â€¦ and everyone else. But I still donâ€™t get the ant.
Todayâ€™s guest spotter is Jeff Stewart â€“ author, artist and sometime bread-seller at his local Sunday market
I love Lu Xun Park. Itâ€™s in Hongkou, Shanghai, and is my most favourite place on earth at the moment. Everything happens here â€“ 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 womanâ€™s story about her current living situation.
Jeffâ€™s Â photograph of a man writing on the pavement in water accompanies his journal entry Translating Lu Xun Park on the Â Kai Xin (Happy Heart)website
Canberra writer Doug Fry is Pavement Graffitiâ€™s inaugural guest spotter.
Apart from a failed first year university class (and my weekly trash TV fix of Bones) I donâ€™t really have any experience in the field of psychology, so Iâ€™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 â€˜thought patternâ€™-type works can occasionally be spotted on public surfaces â€“ bus shelters, powerline poles, shopping centre walls â€“ 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 â€˜thought patternâ€™ 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 â€“ 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. Â
Arrow chases are the urban version of Hare and Hounds. Kids chalk arrows on the pavement instead of leaving paper trails, and Hash House Harrier clubs sometimes write esoteric instructions beside their arrows. I spotted the â€˜Walkersâ€™ arrow near Stanmore Station.
AF remembers being on a run with his club some years ago in Melbourne when the arrows petered out near a tram stop. Not knowing what else to do the group of sweaty runners got onto the next tram that came along and rode to the end of the line. There they found that the arrow trail had resumed with the instruction â€˜ON ONâ€™.
Arrow chases probably explain many of the chalk arrows you see in the streets, but others are written on the pavement for the benefit of strollers and shoppers, pointing the way to shops, markets and garage sales. These arrows come in all sizes with all kinds of text and embellishment. The â€˜Psst â€“ garage saleâ€™ arrow and a set of others like it were in King Street, South Newtown, last year.
Sydneyâ€™s most famous pavement graffitist was Arthur Stace, a reformed no-hoper who walked the cityâ€™s streets writing the single copperplate word â€˜Eternityâ€™, Â after being dramatically converted to Christianity in the 1930s. Some years after his death in 1967, Sydney artist Martin Sharp adopted his chalked word and began incorporating it into prints, posters, tapestries, postcards and T-shirts. Thanks to Sharpâ€™s thirty-year Eternity industry, what was originally a religious message has become a product of popular culture. In 2001 â€˜Eternityâ€™ in Arthur Stace script was registered as a trademark by the City of Sydney because of its â€˜iconic value â€¦ to the people of Sydneyâ€™.*
A replica of Staceâ€™s one-word sermon is preserved in metal near a fountain below Town Hall Square.Â Unfortunately is it is hidden from most people except the patrons of a cafÃ© whose outdoor chairs and tables surround it. It was raining the day I took this photograph â€“ the cascades off the cafÃ© umbrellas matched the cascading fountain.
Every now and then I come across ‘Eternity’ written in chalk by someone trying to imitate Stace. And aÂ stencil artist in Melbourne has used the form of Stace’s word to write ‘Optimism’ on the pavements there.
(* I have written about chalk and pavement writing in â€˜The Eternal Cityâ€™, Meanjin 65(2), 2006, pp.139-146).
A friend has suggested to me that angry people write on the pavement because they want to be trampled on. Iâ€™m not so sure.
Anyway, some angry people chalked their way down Broadway one night, from Broadway Shopping Centre to the University of Technology, Sydney. There was a mixture of rants, but you get the gist.