Sydney

Turnings and Over-turnings in Glebe

Since I did not grow up here, and arrived knowing no-one, Glebe was both without memory and emphatically real. The new resident seeks not only the stories of a place, but also its genii loci and forms of unconcealment. Something small becomes the proclamation of larger matters, and historical consciousness prompts random and puzzled affections. There’s a passageway here that reminds me of John Berger’s notion of ‘the shape of a pocket’. For Berger this term refers to hidden-away communities and small spaces of cultural resistance, but it also to the effects of painting in its ritual role as affirmation.

Glebe by flickr user Kate Ausburn

Hellfire

There is not much of Martin’s vision left at Luna Park. A memorial to the fire victims mysteriously disappeared during a refurbishment in 2003. Up some stairs, where the Big Dipper used to be, there is now a mural in front of an uninviting courtyard where no-one sits. It is a trompe l'oeil, showing the scaffolding of the absent Dipper, like the skeleton of an extinct vertebrate, and in front of it, painted on a fusebox, is a variant of the Sharp Face. It looks ugly and sour though. There is something wrong with it, with its expression.

Luna Park. Photo: Loulou Han.

Two Lives in the Cross

The Cross that I remember was rather pretty in those days, with dress shops and gift shops and sweet little trees lining Darlinghurst Road, far from the interestingly ugly place it became during the R&R days in the late sixties and early seventies. Back in the fifties it was marvellous, the most interesting spot in Sydney. If you wanted to buy a smart gift, the Cross was where you went; it had coffee lounges, cinemas, restaurants, clubs – and even then it had its seamy side, but what wasn’t wonderful about that?

Edgewater flats, Elizabeth Bay, 1937. Photographer: Sam Hood. Via State Library NSW. 

Surro