Sunday 28 May 2017

Reflections on Sydney Architecture

“I see music as fluid architecture.”
- Joni Mitchell

“I see fluid architecture as music.”
- Larry Tayler, with apologies to Joni Mitchell

“Don’t worry about the world ending today.
It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”
- Charles M. Schulz

Today’s blog post features architectural photos of Sydney from the time that Bill and I recently spent in Australia. I’ve made no secret of my love of Sydney, a city that I’ve had an ongoing affair with since 1971. It’s brash, gutsy, extroverted...and keeps calling me back.

But posting these photos of urban Sydney is not just another excuse to look at them again – it’s also priming my creative pumps for the weeks ahead, when I plan to wallow in big-city photography.

During the first week of June, I’ll be indulging in five days of photography in Toronto, the other city with which I’ve had an ongoing love affair for decades. Originally, I had registered for a week-long urban photography course offered by the Haliburton School of the Arts/Fleming College at OCAD University in Toronto. Annoyingly, Haliburton/Fleming cancelled the course because of low enrolment.

(Side bar for a rant: in the last year, I have registered for three Fleming College photography courses and two of them have been cancelled. Not a great success ratio. I understand the realities of college finances, but at some point Fleming has to recognize that cancelling courses pisses people off to the point that they won’t sign up for future courses. Why bother when they’ll likely be cancelled? And I’m a prime sucker for this kind of course. Alas, I have asked Fleming to remove me from their mailing list.)

There, that felt good.

Of course, I’d already booked and paid for my train and accommodations (Bill found me a great Airbnb place across from the Art Gallery of Ontario), so I’ve decided to conduct my own urban photography course in Toronto - what a wonderful indulgence! I expect that my blog posting next week will feature urban photography from wandering around the city.

The week after that, Bill and I plan to be in New York City where he is registered for a quilting course in Manhattan. While he’s quilting, I’m looking forward to hyperventilating with my camera in that glorious city.

And I know that I’m conflating urban photography and architectural photography – obviously urban photography covers much more ground than the bricks and mortar of architecture, but this is my circus and my camera, so I get to make the rules. Actually, I’ll be pretty much watching for anything that catches me eye!

BTW, if you are interested in architectural photography, I can highly recommend my friend Lindi’s blog, “Ancestral Roofs” (Link), which she describes as her “online journal celebrating the built heritage of Ontario.” It’s always a fine read, reflecting Lindi’s skills as both a writer and a photographer.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these images of urban Sydney!

Covered Parking Lot, Kent Street

Men's Washroom, Pyrmont Bridge

Stairs, Pyrmont Bridge

Australian Maritime Museum

Western Collector Highway

Pumphouse Museum Stairs

Building Across from Pumphouse Museum

Haymarket Stairs

Martin Place Reflections

Martin Place Stairs

Lindt Cafe, Martin Place
Site of a deadly hostage incident, December, 2014

Pitt Street Arcade

Hyde Park Barracks

Reflection of Sydney Harbour Bridge, Milsons Point

Lord Nelson Hotel, The Rocks

Argyle Street Cut, The Rocks

Customs Building, Circular Quay

North Lobby, Sydney Opera House

Portobello Cafe, Circular Quay

St. Mary's Cathedral at Dawn

Western Collector Highway

Coffee Machine, Taronga Zoo

View from Taronga Zoo

Monday 22 May 2017

Sharing My Astonishments

“I have learned three things about life and want
to share them now that I am in my 80s and an elder.
First: Pay attention.
Second: Be astonished.
Third: Share your astonishment.”
- Mary Oliver, American Poet

As always, Mary Oliver says it best. My gosh, but I love her poetry, wisdom, and sense of wonder.

For the purposes of this blog entry, I am borrowing her words to introduce the twelve photographs that I have currently on display at Belleville’s Gallery 121 (Link). All the photographs were recorded in Australia, the first in 2007, and the other eleven in April of this year during the vacation from which Bill and I recently returned.

Late last year, Gallery 121 generously invited me to be a guest artist and contribute photographs to this exhibit; it made sense for me to focus exclusively on Australian images from our trip. It also created a marvellous challenge to commit to the exhibit on the assumption (presumption?) that I would record eleven photos that were worthy of exhibition during our month-long odyssey. Well, I recorded 7,448 images on the trip and did, indeed, find eleven that I wanted to share at Gallery 121.

I hope many of you will be able to see the photos in person at Gallery 121. It’s located at 48 Bridge Street East in Belleville, next to Dinkel’s Restaurant (a fine restaurant, by the way, if you want to combine a gallery visit with an excellent meal). The exhibit also features work by Michael Amar, Claus Heinecke, and member artists of the gallery. The exhibit runs until June 24 and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 am to 4 pm.

I hope you enjoy these photographs.

"Mondo Melbourne," July 28, 2007
Discovered while wandering one of central Melbourne's many back alleys. 
I have no idea what "MONDO" is.

"Shrouded Jesus, St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney," April 4, 2017
St. Mary's Cathedral is a massive sandstone church beside Hyde Park in Sydney. At dawn, its interior is filled with the most beautiful golden glow. Bill and I attended mass to experience the dawn light in the church. Because it was two weeks before Easter, the statues and icons were covered in purple cloth. I found this image of Christ on the cross to be both moving and very creepy - it reminded me of the wretched photos from Abu Ghraib, the notorious prison in Iraq where the United States Army and Central Intelligence Agency tortured prisoners during the Iraq War. As I said, creepy.

"Port Arthur Ship Frame, Tasmania," April 19, 2017
Photographed on our visit to Port Arthur, site of a former British penitentiary in southeast Tasmania.

"Salamanca Market Musician, Hobart, Tasmania," April 21, 2017
Every Saturday, the huge Salamanca Market takes over the port area of central Hobart. Thousands of people, hundreds of vendors, dozens of street musicians, and the most joyous sense of community.

"Lindsay Family Sitting Room, City of Ballarat Fine Art Gallery," April 17, 2017
Ballarat, which is about 90 minutes west of Melbourne, was the centre of the Australian Gold Rush in the late 1800s. Its central business district is filled with beautiful Victorian buildings, including the city's excellent art gallery. Not everyone's favourite photo, but I like its quirkiness.

"National Gallery of Victoria Water Fall, Melbourne," April 14, 2017
Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria is a world-class art gallery. Its main entrance features a huge glass wall with a cascade of water falling over it. I photographed this image from the outside looking in. And, no, I didn't use Photoshop!

"Royal Australian Air Force Museum Signs, Melbourne," April 18, 2017
The RAAF Museum in the western suburbs of Melbourne is a treasure trove of airplanes, history, dioramas...and quirky signs. We never did figure out what "Museum Woe" meant!

"Hyde Park Barracks Window, Sydney," April 4, 2017
Overlooking Sydney's beautiful Hyde Park, the former British Army barracks have been turned into a museum. I recorded this image from the outside, looking up at a second story window. There is so much you can read into these faces.

"Luna Park Carousel Horses, Sydney," April 5, 2017
Located across the harbour from the Sydney Opera House is Luna Park, a classic old-style amusement park that is part of Sydney's DNA. There is a beautiful carousel near the entrance that features a menagerie of carved wooden animals, including these horses. I find this to be a frightening image, however - it looks like a Stephen King novel come to life.

"Powerhouse Museum Adult Gym, Sydney," April 8, 2017
Sydney's Powerhouse Museum is great fun - full of science, technology, and more than a little whimsy, including this adult gym at the front entrance. The kids got pushed off so these adults could enjoy it!

"Powerhouse Museum Laser Light, Sydney," April 8, 2017
Another photo from Sydney's Powerhouse Museum. One second before this photo, the laser lights came on and then went off a second later. I only had a chance to photograph one image. Some people have assumed that I used Photoshop to create this image. Nope, nor did I stage the children. 
I love this photo!

"Guy Stretched Out, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney," April 1, 2017
The Queen Victoria Building in the Central Business District of Sydney is a marvellous architectural confection - a block long, four-storey arcade of high-end boutiques built around a central atrium that flows up from the lowest level to the top, with light cascading down from the glass ceiling. Absolutely magnificent. And not all the confections are in the shops. I found this young man stretched out on a lower-level bench while I peered down from a second-storey balcony. And, no, I don't know if he knew he was being photographed.