Thursday, 30 June 2011

Boat Crush - Alma Doepel

Docklands is proving much more giving than I first gave it credit for.

Without the distractions of Melbourne CBD (Central Business District = town) I have been forced to think imaginatively and delve deeper into my surroundings. I've managed to tap into my neglected physical abilities by running, in the begining without purpose/direction, yet now with a rather lovely and expandable route. When I say lovely I mean stimulating, past the motorways, industrial parks, next to water, floodbanks, underneath electricity pylons and round the warehouses of North Melbourne. It's a good stretch takes about an hour and the beauty is when I become reaccustomed to running and my pace improves I can extend the lap further. Away from the workers and other lunch time joggers I feel free, removed from the corporate (albeit temporary) world I inhabit.

Walking can also be a pleasurable experience, I discovered an empty boat next to a boat yard moored on the far side of the docklands...

In need a massive repair the boat had been stripped and exposed, laid bare its beauty was still apparent. I ventured into the hold with water underfoot, a dark and cavernous space greeted me, unsure of my surroundings, aware that no one knew of my presence, I trod carefully, still managing to knock my head I retreated back up the ladder into the sunshine. There were two main sections, below deck I was able to reach, the work horse at the front and the cabins at the back (I'm assuming it was the back due to the positioning of the instruments above).

The boat was the Alma Doepel

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Australia's Royle Family exists in The Castle

My exploration into Australian culture has been progressing nicely, I'm currently mid way through The Bogan Delusion by David Nicholls a book that aims to explore the term bogan (Australian cousin of the CHAV - council housing and violent), what impact it has on society and whether it is just another way of exploiting the working class.

The Castle, recommended to me by some of my Australian peers who have been aiding me in cultural exploration is referenced in the book. Its a cute film about a backwater family trying to save their home from a large corporation looking to build another runway at Melbourne airport, they have the government in their pockets and a compulsory purchase order in hand. It offers a snapshot of Aussie bogan life, I found comparisons between The Royle Family in its down to earth humour. Most Australians have seen it, however it wasn't released beyond these shores, fortunately its easily downloadable and worth a watch. Eric Bana makes his acting debut, it was filmed over 11 days in 1997 and cost a mere $19,000 AUD to make.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Late night fumbles

Half price cinema on Monday pulls in allsorts or bargain hunters, our late arrival to Kino on Collins for the opening week of Bridesmaids, placed us with limited seating. We opted for a darkened (the film had already started) corner at the top right, there appeared to be two seats almost together and with gentle cajoling the occupants of the adjoining one spots, displaced themselves in our favour. However in haste it appeared we had joined the loopy's in what we later coined as the 'cottaging' corner To my left, was a man who was permanently foraging in his lap under the cover of his jacket which rested gently over his thighs and lower stomach. This was sound tracked with heavy grunting and large unpredictable laughter, to my companions right a salty/sweet sweaty odour drifted thickly across, tingling our nose buds as it went - less noise more constant shifting. The film was entertaining during the times I was able to draw my focus away from what was going on around me. I felt trapped in my seat and moved closer and closer to my ally for solace.

When the film was finally over, I felt the need to stomp out the claustrophobia with a walk, perhaps not home, but far enough to shake off the involuntary participant experience I'd been subjected to.

My walk took me through a deserted park late at night, yet somehow I felt safer there with the wind and gargoyles.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Discovering the real docklands

I've moved to the Dockands, I now spend at least eight hours a day, five days a week there. It's nothing like the centre of town, getting off the tram and walking across a dank park, it feels rather bleak and depressing, large angular modern glass buildings punctuate the roads and walkways. Perhaps its the time of year, once the sun kicks in it will look better, but in all honesty it reminds me of the grotesque business parks I had the misfortune to work in when I was living in Telford. (Telford = a grim blot on the landscape of Shropshire, the Birmingham over-spill, factories and cheap houses). One saving grace is that some of the docks history and industrial traces remain, plus its by the water, which is nice of course. The restaurants are mostly empty, with ugly plastic refits and inflated prices. With the relentless construction of massive apartment blocks - its as though the ghost town is waiting for the zombies to arrive.

My run took me to the right side of the motorway under the supporting pillar.

Embracing my fate, I ended up on the best run I'd been on since arriving in Australia. With my face to the sun I ran away from the new buildings, the AFL (Ethiad Stadium) and CBD towards the industrial warehouses. I wanted to reach the motorway, the 'Telford' end of the CBD (Incidentally there is a 'Paris' end here, which seems bizarre, why would you want to promote somewhere as being 'like' somewhere else, surely the trick is to make it in its own form - unique?) . I made it right underneath and scaled a post, gazing up I could see the parallel gap of sky between the two roads, I continued believing that my path would be blocked, yet there were openings that allowed me right to the waters edge. I could see the factory workers across the water smoking, looking at me as though I was a strange object. I scaled railings, and balanced on beams, moving slowly round taking in everything around me, the other cylinder shaped pastel buildings opposite the stacked trailer compartments adjacent. Looking down I saw a star fish, it had a arm missing (assuming they have five arms not four) yet its tentacles were still moving. I had to get it back in the water quick, trying to scoop it up with a piece of nearby plastic didn't work, so I used my fingers, it was damp and slimy and now at least back in the water.

I longed for my camera, yet absorbed in the moment, the noises of the motorway, ships, factories and seagulls filled my ears and the wind massaged my face. I continued, passing a homeless man's base camp, with immaculately stacked magazines and bottles, he seemed somewhat put out by my appearance and when I asked him which direction to run, he just pointed the way I came. Ignoring I headed off towards the abandoned shed, five bunny rabbits bobbed white in front of my path, darting off in different directions. I tried to find a way into the site, but it was well secured. I looped round and saw more rabbits, and headed in the direction of the homeless man's pointed finger. More rabbits and a strange looking crane, or was it a fair ground ride, indeterminable at my angle of view framed by two more standard looking cranes. Upon closer inspection via a good leg down the brook, past an abundance of rabbits droppings and a few more bobbing shocks of white I realised this was the 'doomed' Melbourne eye. Disorientated by my numerous impulsive about turns I was lost and running hard, it was bloody fantastic.

The doomed Melbourne eye Southern Star Observation Wheel was closed due to safety concerns.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Z A R A rush

Seems bizarre that I'm taking a picture of Zara and sticking on my blog, after all not since I moved to London during my early 20s did I shop there, well on occasion during the sales maybe. I find Zara and many high street prices a little less value for money compared to the quality and originality of second hand clothes, notwithstanding H&M who seem to have the balance right. Primark became a little too guilty, full of queues and design defects for me to visit regularly. Yet Australia's high street prices are astronomical by comparison, so the arrival of Zara could be compared to the giant Primark on Regent Street opening. Sydney still has bouncers and queues to get into the store. I think I'll let the action die down before I pop in to buy a plain knee length skirt for work.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Moonlit Sanctuary

I had so much fun wandering around the sanctuary, I almost forgot I was on a tour (I hate tours), it was super relaxed and informative. The keeper was in tune with everyone and allowed just the right amount of time to absorb the animals. It began with a petting session (snakes, reptiles etc), which we missed, alas Sorrento was not as close as we figured. Then onto the park where a host of marsupials most of which I'd not encountered before (some endangered) were waiting to be fed. Note: this a sanctuary not a rehabilitation centre, the animals here will remain in captivity (albeit a happy existence) until the die.

A highlight was listening to the Tazmanian Devils squeel over a chunk of meat, ambivalent to the other piece a few inches away and then coming back to drink the blood the keeper decanted into the pen. The Tawny Frogmouth was beautiful, my new favourite bird of Australia, an amazing creature with impressive plumage and a bright soft mouth that traps insects. Master of camouflage with feathers on its beak that jut out to sense when its prey is near. It was definitely worth the $30 entry, the group was a good size and all the money went to the centre which receives no additional funding from the government.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Wrapped in Cape Schanck

Sometimes, well most of the time its good to get away, there is great merit in allowing the forces of nature to remind you of how beautiful it is and insignificant you are. When you remove yourself from the man made concrete jungle to the baron expanse of a cliff edge, you allow the wind to blow away your non-existent woes and the sun to revitalise.

Cape Schanck Lighthouse does tours - if you get there early enough!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The For Walls

It seems very popular to have a gallery attached to a pub these days, its not enough to be a pub itself you have to be a lifestyle - represent a scene - to assist in building longevity. The gallery itself can say a lot about its clientele, the type of gigs it holds and its persona in general. For Walls is placed in a quiet (unless there's a band sound checking) enclave at the back of Miss Libertine. It held a group show to celebrate its first birthday, the artists on display were hit and miss, perhaps down to my non-skate/graffiti leanings the pieces that jumped out were more classical in medium and skill. It was affordable art which could happily adorn my walls and pieces that I would never connect with, still taste is subjective as they say.

Watercolours by Lani Siow (I could have happily gone home with one of these reasonably priced works of art)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Urban outfitters in Australia through the medium of art....

I very nearly forgot about this exhibition until I stumbled across the photographs from the opening. It was produced in conjunction with Urban Outfitters the American fashion retailer with a quirky slant, bent on increasing their brand awareness within Australia. Whether it’s to promote their online sales (UK brand ASOS have massively increased sales to Aus by offering free shipping) or they are planning to open a store here (as opposed to Sydney) in the coming months remains to be seen. Either way they spent some cash gaining taste maker kudos, they enlisted Three Thousand/Right Angle Studio to co-promote the exhibition which features 10 up and coming fashion photographers, each with their own style and varying degree of success. The after party/warehouse rave was quite a big affair, I signed up thinking it was a $10 entry job, arrived paid no entrance and was treated to a free bar. It reminded me of the squat parties I used to attend in London (there was only two toilets - however at least these had running water). The club eventually became the toilet queue which was highly amusing, alcohol and weeing go hand in hand. Dear Patti Smith Gallery, Collingwood was home to the smaller art based fronting of the evening, each photographer displayed one massive print, I wasn’t blown away. Perhaps I was missing some information, however I was a little broken from a heavy week, so didn’t hang around too long to find out. My complimentary Rekordelig cider took me up Smith Street and halfway home, maybe the photographers (and more of their work) will reappear at some point.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Melbourne Eye

It might have been the first day of winter but with a bom recording of 19 degrees it felt like the cold May had begun to thaw. With that in mind I wanted to sample the gigantic wheel that mounted the Yarra river so close to my office, a perfect lunchtime activity.