Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fear, hate, dumb and will

Nosey has solved a mystery. I wish I could say I was a great sleuth, but it was the most bumbling, obvious, "derr" discovery.

A friend had tipped me off that one of the mysterious concrete remote controls, which had captured the popular imagination in a previous entry, could be found on Australia Street, engraved with Fear, rather than Hate. So I went to take a photo.

Approximately five metres from where this photo was taken is the New View Gallery, where the artist who created the remote controls is having an exhibition. All six designs of the remotes are displayed in the window for all the world to see, including super sleuths. There's Fear and Hate in the two different fonts, Dumb and Will.

This is Will, both the remote and the man.

Will Coles created the remotes from cement and stuck them on the footpaths of Newtown in the dead of night (to give the glue enough time to dry before people would stumble upon them in the morning). Most of them were destroyed by people trying to steal them, discovering that the glue is stronger than the cement.

He says there was no theory behind where they appeared, or what direction they were pointing in, except that many are located near friends' houses. Some of them are stuck on the concrete Gothic mile markers, which appeared around the base of street posts during the Blue Moon Festival because Will made those too! Unbelievably, given their size, ten of the original 13 markers have also gone missing.

Will didn't paint the remote outside the Starr Bowkett Co-Operative Building Society before placing it, which is thrilling because it means Starr Bowkett painted it themselves, just as I had hoped! I love that they have embraced it, making it part of the building.

The remotes and Will's other sculptures, transform an everyday item which we recognise and connect with, to prompt us, to make us question. "We were born to think, find and unravel, to solve problems", he says. He's definitely succeeded in inspiring me, and many others, to be inquisitive, and to look a little closer when we place our feet.

Will promises that more artworks will be appearing on our streets soon. But in the meantime, check out the exhibition, Buy More Art, at New View Gallery on Australia Street, running until the end of next week. You can even buy a remote, with matching television, to take home, or to install in your location of choice.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nosey vs Wall: Update

The campaign to have the Three Proud People mural reproduced on the Macdonaldtown sound barrier takes another step forward as people in hard hats investigate the site of the contentious wall and look concerned.

The City of Sydney sent through this photographic evidence that movement is afoot! I think that hard-hatted man in the middle is thinking, "I wonder, if we just knock down the wall right here...".

I will keep you posted on further progress.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Should I stay or should I go?

Mixed messages from the little green man on the corner of Union and King Street:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Don't trip on the remote controls

These have popped up on the footpaths of Enmore Road:

They're made from plaster or maybe cement, and are very firmly stuck down. I've counted at least four of them. I don't know how long they've been there - I think I just noticed them for the first time because I've been walking with my head bowed, cowering from the cold.

The one outside the Starr Bowkett Co-Operative Building Society has been painted green to match the wall, which pleases me greatly.

I wonder if it was colour co-ordinated by the artist or by Starr Bowkett themselves (I like to think that's the kind of thing Starr Bowkett would do, but looking at it, it's probably more likely to have been painted before it was stuck down). It's actually a different model of remote control to the one in the other photo. You just don't see that level of attention to detail in most remote control street art these days.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An alpaca to keep you warm at night

I want one of these, just like in the picture.

As displayed in the window of Champion Textiles.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Electro Pop Saturdays

When Adam and Dave work in the Alfalfa House food co-op together on Saturdays, they serve customers to a soundtrack of hand-picked electro pop. This tradition became known, fittingly, as Electro Pop Saturdays, and represents just one of the many experiences you can have at the co-op that you can't have in the supermarket.

Yesterday, to commemorate what may be one of the last Electro Pop Saturdays (due to a rostering change), Adam and Dave brought big speakers into the shop, placed one near the chocolate shelf and the other near the egg cartons, and broadcast their electro pop favourites, while wearing co-ordinated, appropriate attire.

Note from the photo that they're still committed to customer service, despite the electro pop.

Adam and Dave live on an island in the Hawkesbury, so they had to transport the speakers over by boat. It leads to quite some image of the two of them on a river in their "street wear".

That's the kind of person I want selling me my groceries.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mental speed bumps

The lovely Suzy has drawn my attention to a Marrickville Transport Action Group initiative called K-Savers. The K stands for kilometres, and the project's goal is to reduce car dependency and consequently increase community mindedness. They give practical advice for 'traffic calming' on your street (as has been done on Victoria Street in Erskineville) and raise the idea of 'mental speed bumps', which is about creating intrigue and 'linger nodes' on your street, encouraging drivers to slow down and be curious, and also reminding them that they're traveling through a community where real live people reside.

I am a huge fan of both lingering and intrigue. The K-Savers suggest reading a book on the footpath, sitting on a bench, putting up a basketball hoop, giving cupcakes to neighbours, drawing up a hopscotch, painting a mural, putting furniture and art on the street, writing poetry in chalk or holding a street party. I think Wilson Street does this better than anywhere in Newtown. I'm always going somewhere fast when I'm walking down Wilson, usually en route to a train I'm about to miss, but I usually find myself stopped in my tracks at some point to inspect something of intrigue.

Suzy says a street meeting inspired by the K-Savers has already taken place on Trafalgar Street to discuss ways of improving the neighbourhood and reducing traffic. In Paris they have a yearly Fete des Voisins (Neighbours' Party), a night where everyone meets for drinks and nibbles in the courtyard of their building.

I think it behooves me to organise an (Apartment) Block Party for this Spring. I'll keep you posted.

For more information on K-Savers, write to ksavers at marrickvilletag dot org

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Performing bears

Just when I thought I'd seen busking taken to new heights with the artists painting their way to Holland last week, along come Bi-Polar Bear and Shy Polar Bear, performing today outside the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.

It was both baffling and brilliant. They didn't actually appear to be collecting any money.

I think the bears may be related to Pterodactyl Man and Pterodactyl Boy, who I haven't seen in quite some time, but who I think about often because of this stencil art on Gladstone Street.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


You can find out the history of your street name on the Newtown Project site. Even the much maligned Raper Street is there, with further reference to a Raper House! Good God! But don't worry, it's all very innocent. However, I was really disappointed to discover that my most favourite Newtown street name, Turtle Lane, has nothing to do with turtles.

I think the best entry is the one for Liberty Street: "Local legend says its name arose from people diverting here to avoid the threepenny toll for users of Cooks River Road. The St Josephs church history tells an anecdote of a certain judge who 'took almost childish delight in avoiding payment' by driving through the pool that formed the boundary of the road".

Every time I go down Liberty Street now I think of that, and try to conjure up some internal childish delight while waiting to cross the road.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

One for the suckers

A bunch of SCA students were "busking" on King Street this evening by creating a painting in public. One of the artists was trying to fund a trip to Amsterdam.

The finished painting was quite impressive and very, very large.

Apparently they were just going to take it home and hang it on their wall (although they did offer for me to buy it), which means it was a win-win day for the artists: paid to do a painting they then get to keep. I think it was an inspired idea, and it made me happy. Not as happy as the piano accordion-playing girl makes me, but still it ranks high on my list of favourite Newtown busking exploits.

The Inca's Restaurant on Enmore Road is also appealing for your support. And it's not for a small business award, like every other shop and restaurant in town. No, these guys want your vote for Machu Picchu in the poll for the New 7 Wonders of the World. What selfless Peruvian pride! The site tells me that Machu Picchu is a symbol of "community and dedication", which seems fitting. Lovers of Newtown, and Peruvian cuisine, should register their votes now.

And there's one final appeal begging for your attention. Meet Shorty, the Cat of the Month at the Enmore Cat Protection Society.

According to the sign in the window, Shorty has been in the Society's cattery for seven months now, the longest resident of any of the cats: "He has watched many of his feline friends come and go during this time, patiently waiting for his turn. Perhaps wondering 'Why not me? Have I done something wrong? Am I not pretty enough? Am I too outspoken?'". Apparently he has become "quite jaded" by all the rejection. The sign concludes, "If you have a soft spot for bad boys with hearts of gold, this is the man for you. Get Shorty." Poor Shorty! If only he could paint his way to Holland.

If you'd like to save Shorty from God knows how many more months of rejection, poor self esteem and, worst of all, a country-and-western career, please contact the Cat Protection Society.