It’s rare that I can’t think of a suitable title for a blog post, but Sunday in the City (of Melbourne) left me speechless and with more than a tear in my eye.
I’d been looking forward to my first visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens in about 18 months to do some bird photography.
After getting off the bus in the city centre, I walked down the main north/south street to the tram stop to find notice that there were tram disruptions and delays, so after waiting about 20 minutes, I decided to called the whole photography nature walk off and do a quick walk around the block in search of some street photography.
I had been through the new up-market shopping arcade linking Collins street to Little Collins street before and been quite amazed by the mirrored columns, ceilings and undersides of the escalators. The whole experience is like walking through some distorted hall of mirrors at a fun fair – quite surreal and definitely a unique experience. Many of the high-end ground floor shops are still untenanted.
You need real money to shop here.
The central atrium is filled with a modern ‘chandelier’ of hanging green/aqua light tubes. Both a work of art as well as lighting.
The previous arcade was very beautiful in itself and for the life of me, I can’t think why the current mind-blowing multi-million dollar display of vulgarity, which took 2 years to create, was ever passed by Melbourne City Council (or the town planning department).
I find it offensive. It’s a slap in the face of the homeless. It represents the extreme waste of money that really turns my stomach.
It’s one of modern western societies contradictions……….
(note: the slide show below was mostly made by looking straight up above me, except for one photo which shows a shopper riding an escalator).
When you leave this arcade and walk up to the main north/south thoroughfare linking the northern suburbs to the southern outbound highway (which runs along the west side of the Royal Botanic Gardens), you are confronted by the Bedrooms of the Homeless. Obviously during the winter, when night temperatures can drop to the low single digits, its warmer for the homeless to shift from their summer shelters along the river to the warmer inner streets of Melbourne.
After seeing the 5th makeshift shelter, where the occupant(s) was/were still fast asleep, I saw the 6th Bedroom looming up on the footpath and decided to make a photo.
I didn’t want to invade the occupant’s privacy so made the image from some distance away. An open umbrella was creating a wind break. Possessions and used food containers created a fence surrounding the homeless person and at this stage I was moved to tears.
This was the Home……… of a Homeless person.
I really don’t understand the wave of new multi-million dollar high-rise apartment blocks. Many are for the wave of Asian students who now attend our highly regarded universities at the northern end of the city) and are justified. But there are others which are not.
With some 8,000 homeless in the inner suburbs (32,000 in the whole state) and over 88,000 empty houses, the figures just don’t add up.
Some of the homeless have mental disorders like Schizophrenia. I see many on my bus running along my route to the city centre. Some have addictions – drugs, alcohol, over-the-counter medications – you name it.
There are those who prefer to live in the open without the normal links to jobs, debt and modern trappings and they are homeless by choice.
Then there are the teenage runaways with the pallor of despair etched upon their gaunt young faces. I wonder what drove them from home? Abuse, violence or drugs? Or just plain dysfunctional family relationships which made their home life unbearable? Perhaps even bullying from peers?
Most are just plain……… homeless………with no jobs to pay for affordable rental accommodation and utilities (let alone food and clothing).
……and then there are the travellers busking to make some money to advance their travel adventures. This Buddhist traveller was playing a variety of Nepalese singing bowls and from time to time, meditated or gave blessings to the passing shoppers. (the image below was made back in February 2013).
How does society justify multi-million dollar expenditure when a few hundred dollars would make all the difference to those living in poverty and homelessness.
The things buskers do to make a living……….
(note: A Busker is a street artist or musician)
I’ve often photographed this Busker and his 4 dummies, but these are the first images I’ve ever made which actually had enough contrast to see the details. Must have been the right light on this overcast winter day.
I’ve often seen the short photographer in the foreground around the city centre with his long telephoto lens, but not sure I’ve even seen him with the lens to his eye. I wonder if he’s a freelance photojournalist?
PS. The real person in the concrete clothes is the man in the centre at the rear of the five dummies. In the first photo of this post, his hand giving the ‘thumbs up’ sign is visible and actually moved when I stood watching.