Some of my favourite images over recent years have been made while standing at the bus stop.
The shot below was made yesterday, (while waiting for a bus to go through the city to an appointment). I just hope it was not as windy up at that height as it has been on ground level in Melbourne and its surrounds in recent weeks. I’ve been mostly at home waiting for Spring to come back to Melbourne. With September being the wettest on record, perhaps I should just ‘write-off’ Spring and wait for Summer 🙂
(NOTE: if you’ve followed my Nature blog, you’ll know I’ve just moved apartments…….yesterday in fact. After months of searching, I hope my new home is better for food markets, general shops and public transport etc. Today I’m drowning in tissue paper, bubble wrap, boxes and overwhelmed with trying to fit too much furniture into one tiny apartment. Hopefully I’ll be back to posting on this blog again soon).
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).
Homeless is a Lonely Place in Melbourn’s inner city shopping precinct
I saw this young homeless guy over a period of years. He went from making copies of drawings to being quite a skilled artist and earning enough to pay to have some of his cards printed (to sell on the streets).
Entrance to a dirty cellar which housed a radio, food cartons and a makeshift bed (up a back lane near the university).
Discarded begging box down a side alley.
……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.
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.
I think I do a photo series every time I step out my front door. I started this blog off with the intention of only uploading one Black & White image for every post (with no words or explanation of my intent) except the post Title.
I quickly ran out of steam because many/most of my online photo sharing in the past has been about A walk with my Camera.
I love Black & White, but simply could not do enough that I was satisfied with, to (post regularly). I also found it too hard on my limited energy to keep up 2 blogs with regular posts. Actually, I was running 3 blogs at one stage last year – one on Health subjects, treatments and Alternative Therapies (of which I have had much experience and formal certification).
But as to Photo Series……..
My afternoon excursions with my camera have usually involved a series of images, (close-up & distant), of whatever location I visit.
In the first part of the Australian Photography article they stress Planning Ahead – Plan, Plan, Plan.
I just make a series of images reflecting what I see on my walk and chose a number to upload in a post. Now that I don’t restrict this blog to Black & White, there will be more colour series in the future.
Case in point is today’s post from my Street Art archives. They’re old images, but on the day I shot them in Hosier Lane in Melbourne’s CBD, they would have made a good “photo series”. Actually, they’re bright and vibrant and maybe a little too much to share for the nature lovers. But now that this blog is about varied subjects, not just B & W, it’s relevant to post them.
I’ve made hundreds of photos of Street Art from the city over the years, as the lanes and wall surfaces keep getting painted over by various artists (and some non-artists who just want to make graffiti or spoil artist’s work).
If you went to Hosier Lane today, you may well see a completely different series to the above.
(Both people in the above series consented to my taking their photo and using it on my blog. I don’t usually ask Buskers or Street Artists unless I’m right up close. I figure if they’re performing in public hoping to get noticed (and make money), then my followers or random viewers can publicly see the results).
Apart from Melbourne’s lane ways, there are an extraordinary number of gifted and highly creative Street Artists who display their craft in the inner suburbs.
Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, dates back to the early 1840s. Originally a working-class area of low rent and cheap shops, it is now home to many students, artists and bohemians.
I walked partway down one small section on the way to the supermarket in that area and made a few images of the Street Art (to share online) on the way.
(I must be the only person who carries a camera and lenses on the back of their shopping trolley to do food shopping 🙂 ).
Shop facades in Brunswick Street and surrounding side streets are usually unkempt and un-restored. Those buildings/shops that are painted, are often done with a ‘distressed‘ effect – I suppose there must be some kind of chemical which makes paint peel as it dries? Some of the shop signs are works of art in themselves and Street Art adorns almost every corner or main building. Even the 1st floor above the shops, which are residential, have the occasional window covered with a painted piece of art.
Even though I’m a Nature Lover at heart, I can’t help but be awed by these outdoor art galleries. Since I moved to the north-eastern side of inner Melbourne 12 months ago, my main bus route to the city centre leads me straight past many of these areas. One of these days, I’ll walk down the main road from the city through Carlton, Brunswick, Fitzroy and Collingwood (which are inner suburbs along the bus route) and photograph some more of this extraordinary Street Art.