Aspire and Prismo

09/03/2016

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.

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Then they got bolder.

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Then they brought ladders!

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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?)

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Go you young things!


Show day fireworks

07/03/2016

Off they go again, fizzing and popping in the night sky.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Beef with mustard

06/03/2016

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.

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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.

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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.

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The gigantic roll-ups made by CUBE and POAS are invisible now beneath layers and layers of ugly tags.

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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.

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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.]

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DC’s arrival coincided with lots of “Yah boo! You’re rubbish and we’re brilliant!” notices on the bankings.

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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.

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Surely not!

02/03/2016

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A splash of colour

01/03/2016

They came bobbing down the beck, a splash of sunflower yellow that caught my eye.

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Where from? Why? What story?

I’ll never know.


A loud “woomp!” at midnight

28/02/2016

I got up and looked out the window but couldn’t see anything. We found it in the morning though; that “woomp!” must have been the petrol tank going up and blowing out the windows.

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As The Wife pointed out, it looked theatrical, as though a team of set designers had been given the task of creating a “burnt-out car” scene for a low-budget telly drama.

Strangely, there was no smell whatsoever of burnt rubber or plastic or metal. However, the ever-responsible Jambo spotted an ember that the fire brigade had missed, and so he did the right thing.


The creatures of Austrasia

27/02/2016

There are some people who really hate Indian mynahs, people who think the only good Indian mynah’s a dead Indian mynah.

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I think I might be one of them. I think I got this way when living in Alice Springs. I had lots of friends who worked as scientists trying to preserve remnant small native marsupial communities. The two arms of the pincers wiping out these critters at world-record rate were habitat loss and feral animals. In this community, “feral” became a byword for all that was bad. This is understandable; I’ve mentioned before the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s 2012/13 Wildlife Matters report which found that feral cats kill 75 million (yes, 75 million) native animals in every 24-hour period (yes, every 24-hour period). And that doesn’t account for the animals killed by cute Tiddles as she stalks the gardens and parks of our towns and cities.

But Indian mynahs?

I’m editing a thesis at the moment, a study of an Arnhem Land language by a non-Indigenous linguist. In it she talks about the blurring of lines and the changing roles and expectations as the researcher gradually learns the language under study and is slowly absorbed into the study community. There are even words for those who, through the act of “opening their ears” to the language become more than just speakers but become “indigenous” themselves. This is a very forgiving approach to newcomers, one that I – as a newcomer to Australia – could learn from. I mean, that dead Indian mynah was probably a 50th generation mynah, more “Australian” than someone whose ancestors arrived on the First Fleet. So why the beef?

Which takes me to this pair of carp that occupied the pond behind the TAFE weir for a couple of weeks.

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They were big buggers all right, getting fat on the huge quantities of water weed and crustaceans that boiled around the warm shallow water after the recent rains and hot days. I was talking about these carp to a few Aboriginal fellas who were out eel trapping with their young sons off the Chinchen Street bridge, a scene that could have happened any time in the last X thousand years. I wonder whether they think that these carp are “introduced” or “feral”?

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Anyway, as another scientist pointed out to me, none of this will matter in a few million years, when Australia crashes into South-East Asia. The creation of Austrasia and the removal of the Wallace geophysical region will see all manner of critters teeming back and forth. Then what?

I don’t think I need to lose too much sleep about it.