There are many pleasant strolling places around Hamilton North, though my perennial favourite is Styx Creek, and from there into the old gasworks. The gasworks site has often been promoted as having the potential for some kind of development, from caravan park to medium-density housing to even the site for the Fat As Butter musical festival, but the contamination of the soil always stymies progress. Which is swell, because it’s one of the few places in the inner city where reptiles and birds and native plants can grow and thrive and die unhindered.
There is, as I’ve mentioned before on here, wildlife of other sorts living unnoticed between the cracks. When they redeveloped the colossus that is the new KFC on Hunter Street a team of archaeologists discovered one of the state’s oldest Aboriginal middens; it was buried by drive thru tat before the report could ever be made public. This midden speaks of a different kind of nomad. I’m not sure what an archaeologist, sifting through in 200 years time, would make of the pills, syringes and fag packets. And, erm, Air Wick.
The gasworks has attracted other kinds of urban nomads, mostly the kids who like trashing stuff, and the street artists. I’ve queried before whether it’s actually street art when it’s not on the street. I’m amazed at the lengths people will go to just to leave their mark, but some of the best graffiti around the gasworks site is tucked away inside the shells of derelict buildings. Who will ever see this stuff?
On the other hand I do love the spontaneous expression of this “love cock”, as pure and confidently executed as anything by [insert name of fancy artist because I don’t know anyone except Picasso].
A photographer friend and I were discussing this issue, that of the unseen graffiti that’s become a real part of urban culture. He sent me this link to artists who aren’t even on the street but are below the street, this time in Paris. (And of course, being French, once they’ve vandalised some ancient catacomb they then have coffee and cakes with sparklers in them. Sacre bleu!)
The gasworks has been hit by the ubiquitous (and adventurous) Cube. The rest vary between moderately interesting forms of expression to angry kids hitting out with paint.
Whatever, I pray every day that the gasworks will remain a contaminated catastrophe, kind of like Newcastle’s Fukushima, because as long as it’s filthy the white-shoe brigade won’t want to know. Given that the EPA has pasted a Declaration of Significantly Contaminated Sites on it I think I’m ok for a while. Vive la pollution.