That’s the quote attributed to Arthur WeeGee Fellig and, though most snappers these days wouldn’t know an f-stop from a developing tray, the last two words still apply. It was certainly the case this afternoon when Lachlan was making the cycle ride home along bumpy Clyde Street and got the pleasant surprise of a little bit of SteamFest.
For the real steam heads there’s a snippet of video too, here.
Of course, if Lachlan’s dream of a more picturesque cycleway was ever realised he’d miss out on things like this, which just goes to show. Huh?
I’ve written recently about the tiny war happening down the drain between the various paint artists. There are literally miles and miles of concrete on which to paint and yet everyone tends to congregate in the same places, particularly under bridges. The result is the phenomenon known in this subterranean world as “capping”: painting over someone else’s spray or roll-up.
The gigantic POAS and CUBE roll-ups are now almost completely invisible, though some scholar of the art has acknowledged this loss.
I came across a group at work on the weekend. They were, of course, not keen on having their photos taken. (I took this afterwards, after we’d talked.)
I also took a few close-ups, and we had a wee chat about things in general.
When I came past this evening I noticed the finished work, and the plea by SEKEM.
I can’t help but agree: why cap? It always seems to be the worst painters who do the capping. Is it simply the territorial nature of an art from borne of tagging and transgression? Or juvenile high jinks? It’s beyond me.
Okay, so it’s April Fool’s Day, but I did not deliberately set out post about Jemena’s clean up of the gasworks site on this day. It is a coincidence!
Jemena held a community information session at the Hamilton North Bowling Club on Tuesday. There was food, so how could I not go?
The guys from GHD were there, and people from another organisation with a name made up of letters, something like AJC&P. Why do organisations do that? They’re impossible to remember. Or maybe (dons paranoia hat) that’s the point! I’ll call them Acme Productions for easiness.
Anyway, everyone I spoke to was helpful and informative. Michael and Melissa from GHD and Beatrice from Acme Productions were able to answer all of my rambling questions. (“Hmm. I think you’ve actually asked me three questions there. I’ll try to pick them apart for you.”)
As well as tote bags and spring rolls and meat pies (note to caterers: give up making sandwiches. I know you’ve got to provide a “healthy alternative” but no one’s eating them) there were displays with process flow charts and details on remediation options.
As I’ve said before, I believe that everyone in that room is genuinely doing their best to achieve the best outcome. The cynic in me can’t be quelled though. I know what happens when the men in suits get together. It’s simply a function of bureaucracies, from CSIRO to universities to the RTA.
But there will be an outcome. At some point in the not-too-distant future the gasworks will be much, much less dirty and polluted than it is now. And it’ll be on-sold for some other purpose: storage units, transport hub, Chinese funfair. Should I be happy with this? I know I never will be as I have other ambitions for that whole area, ambitions that will remain unrealised because no one would make a zac from it.
As an aside, the only people I don’t get to meet at Jemena’s open sessions are the people from Jemena. They tend to huddle by themselves while the folk from GHD and Acme Productions do the leg work and the talky stuff. Come on, guys: mingle!
The major outcome from the evening was the fancy-schmantzy cap I got in my tote bag. I can now retire my much-loved but distressingly knackered Oxford University cap to the bin.
I’m not a spokesman for a community or in any way representative of anything other than my own nosiness. And so, as ever, I wait. And watch.
Happy April, everyone.
A couple of nice pictures that came my way recently.
The first was forwarded via Lost Newcastle; it’s a 1940s plan of what could happen with a dammed Styx, somehow creating a “canal living” experience around the TAFE.
The second was through the amazing University of Newcastle Cultural Collections. It’s a picture of the “new” rail bridge across the Styx from, I think, 1909.
This bridge was itself replaced (according to the plaque on the southern side) in 2003; this would be when the central concrete support pillar was put in place, which must have been very reassuring for rail passengers.
I’m not very good at that “historic overlay” thing, but you get the idea.
They come and go in the gasworks: trucks, utes, men in hi-viz. Things are happening, and though we all got a letter from Jemena in the post I found it to be uninformative and only allowing them to tick the “engaging with community” box on the KPIs.
You know what would work better than a website or newsletters? A blackboard at the gate upon which the contractors write who they are and what they’re doing that day. Easy.
Meanwhile, over the fuel depot, not much at all is going on. Which is a worry because, with this lovely warm weather, any material that increases in viscosity and mobility is taking the opportunity to move around the water table. At the edge of the beck there’s a permanent residue of emulsified oily byproducts that seeps out from beneath a crack in the creek bed.
When the sun is at the right angle you can see a rainbow scudding across the surface of the water as the fuel (or whatever it is) leaches downstream.
Rainbows are supposed to be pretty. This one is so very, very ugly.
Is it one person, or two, or more? They (I’ll call them “they”, for convenience) started modestly, a rather shy tag in the drain.
Then they got bolder.
Then they brought ladders!
I kind of like their stuff, it’s different to everything else that’s around. And that name, “Aspire”: so positive! (Don’t I sound like a patronising old fart?)
Go you young things!
Off they go again, fizzing and popping in the night sky.
Jambo curled himself up in his basket and put his paws over his ears. I went and stood on the verandah, my shirt off, feeling the early autumn breeze against my bare skin.
When the kids were little it was an annual ritual for us to all come out and sit on the seat on our front verandah and watch the fireworks. There would be two or three minutes of flashes and bangs and then it would go quiet for a minute, but we knew not to leave because that pause signified that the big fellers had been lit, the ones that climb way, way into the sky before crashing and cascading sparks across the show grounds and sending the flying foxes squawking and chattering from their roosts.
This year there were no kids at home, not even a reluctant teenager. I took photos on my phone and texted them to my daughter in England. It just wasn’t the same.
Graffiti is a given in every urban environment. From Dunedin to Reykjavik you’ll see walls daubed with tags and roll-ups. Some of them are witty and clever, some are thoughtlessly annoying, some have come to be considered as artworks.
All street artists start somewhere, but most often it’s in the drains, on the under sides of bridges, inside warehouses, on derelict buildings. As with any form of creativity the early pieces are pretty rubbish. I’ve watched some guys’ paintings improve dramatically, from basic tags to accomplished large-scale pieces.
But the world of street art is relentlessly competitive, and no matter how great your piece or your reputation you will, one day, get trashed.
The gigantic roll-ups made by CUBE and POAS are invisible now beneath layers and layers of ugly tags.
There’s been a beef on down the drain over recent weeks. The Christmas paint job that SEPS put up was sprayed out, then covered with something nowhere near as well executed.
Someone who calls themselves DC has appeared on the scene. He or she has an ego that’s in inverse proportion to his/her ability. It’s all big stuff, shoddily done. [Note: see comments below from DC. Basically telling me to shut the fuck up. To all street artists: I don’t claim to know anything about you guys or what you do. I only write about what I see. As with anyone who isn’t on the scene I get it wrong. Just let me know; I’m fine with being corrected.]
DC’s arrival coincided with lots of “Yah boo! You’re rubbish and we’re brilliant!” notices on the bankings.
It’s all rather depressing, but I suppose that it’s the nature of the beast. I remember back in 2012 acknowledging the 50th anniversary of graffiti put under the Chatham Road bridge in October 1962 by PP and Bert the Flirt. And yet, when I went past there with Jambo, I was shocked to see that some scroat (as they used to say in The Bill) had defaced PP’s 50-year-old graffito! I mean, show some respect!
Why on earth was I so bothered by that? I’m such a stodgy traditionalist. I need to take a leaf out of the kids’ book.