The proposition of Public Art on the Albion Yland is sketchy at best; sketchy insofar as the area is generally experienced from a car window. So I’ve returned to the idea of Public Art in this vicinity as a result of a passing experience this week and a mental construct that ensued, providing access to what I think is a construction of art peculiar to the road and driving: one retained from a temporary field and brought into a play of discursive association.
I was slowing down at the lights to the ICB on Abbottsford Road and was taken by a couple of signs that had collided in space and time on a single wall. This wall is part of a longstanding but recently closed factory, the Mayne Spring Works, an automotive associated industry of specialist steel manufacture, its logo of a striped tiger walking a curved line was underscored by the legend, “The Well-Tempered Spring”. The area once known as Mayne was swallowed into a neighbouring designate several decades ago, preserved here in name only. The bill posted below it is one readily associated with the current immigration debate. I took the photograph rolling into the lights, the two texts in contrasting graphics appealed in a purely visual way.
A block or two down the road and repeating these two phrases I began to find the pun hidden between. However a significance worthy of an actual construct didn’t appear till yesterday’s news of the Border Force bungle and the ensuing Melbourne protests .
River ghosts can be sited all through the Yland, most often when the tides in Breakfast Creek are at their lowest. When there were moorings on the Sandgate Road side and people lived on the boats not long ago, a sailor/ gardener created an enviable kitchen garden in the rich wet soil alongside the wire fence.
Since the closure of the moorings the river ghosts float around a row of pointed white-capped columns close to the bank. I like to think these columns were placed there by Council in memory of the past tenants and that at low tide the tiny mangrove suckers hide the ghosts within them.
In a street away from these lost moorings there’s a looking point where if you linger there on a rainy day the ghosts are almost visible at the end of the view: an astigmatic view reflecting the image with a slight blurring of its edges, and lo, there they hover.
This isn’t a dreamy space though you have to be present with the street, the traffic, the slippery surfaces, the looking and reception. The distances are small and close and unless you’re on the Yland itself surrounded by your craft, plant your feet firmly.
Architectural Fantasies – VERTIGO Barbara Penrose 2011
Happy New Year!
There is a little pocket of space beneath the ICB where the Allison street bridge meets Sandgate Rd at the roundabout. Unless you were exploring beyond Yowoggera Park on foot, or enjoying the creek by kayak, canoe or boat it is a hidden pocket.
Walking this area for many years now we still experience a thrill coming upon this place, as if we’re unearthing a lost Roman amphitheater or ancient Greek temple. At this end of the Yland there are shiny brut concrete columns extending across the creek supporting the raised motorway of the ICB . Those across the creek flanking the entrance to the headquarters of ad agency GOA have been papered with the flutings of Corinthian columns.
The stones forming the bank of the creek here are not rounded smooth by river water but sharp-edged flinty blue stones appearing as a mosaic of quick ripples, lapping the base of the columns by the water’s edge.
There is an otherworldliness here and I think of Virginia Woolf filling her pockets with stones for ballast before stepping into the water. Were the stones water washed and smooth in her palms? Did she carefully choose them one by one, feeling their weight, adding it up, calculating their combined effects? Or were they stones like these stones, their geometry pretend polyhedrons, mathematical straight edges drawn into existence by the crushing process of a machine. In Roman times stones were believed to contain spirits, numina, which were revered for their divinatory properties.