I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Year with Bluestone: Framed by Bluestone

Two weeks ago, we met with one of the curators at the Melbourne Museum about another project, on fire. At the end of our discussion I told Liza about the bluestone project. She had a few great ideas on the spot and a few days later she emailed: 

And BTW, here is a thought for Stephanie’s project on bluestone:  I was thinking on the way to work this morning, looking at the bluestone gutters and garden edging – how Melbourne seems to be framed by bluestone.  It is in all the edges – window ledges, streets edges, garden edges, fencing, foundations for buildings, back street lanes. Very functional, but on the edge of centre.

This expresses very well the way we experience bluestone in the city. It isn't always in the main gaze, though there certainly are some spectacular buildings here, and elsewhere in the state. But as I walked to the tram in Fitzroy, and then from the tram in Carlton, here are just a few photos of the thousands similar ones it would be possible to take all over the city.

A small stretch of the miles and miles of bluestone laneways behind Victorian and Federation, where the nightsoil used to be picked up. This configuration of bluestone, brick and rolling doors is seen all through the city. People walk down laneways, harvesting lemons and grapes that overhang the fences or pick armfuls of fragrant jasmine in spring. Cycling down them is a great way to avoid the traffic, though it can be a bumpy ride.

This configuration below is also very familiar: the foundations are less smooth than the stones above, and kept unpainted, like the margin or frame of the house.

 This side entrance is less common: note smoother bluestones for the steps:

Our streets are lined with bluestone gutters: 

Little traffic islands surround posts and notices: 

Bluestone is also the foundation for many an iron fence: 

The same configuration is used for grand public structures too: here is the corner of the gateway to the Exhibition Gardens on Rathdowne St (my photo of the gateway from the front came out badly: 
I'll leave that for another post): 

Often the railings have been removed or been destroyed: this is a very common site around Melbourne. Note the reddish colouring where the iron has rusted: 

And my last, most decorative shot from this morning's walk down Grattan St: a pretty tiled verandah framed by bluestone foundations and iron fence.

As the city's 
framework, bluestone is functional, solid, unobtrusive: the support for elegance and grandeur but also beloved in its own right. 


winkieg said...

The "less smooth" facing of the foundation stones is termed "Quarry" face, or more commonly; "pitched" face.
I'd like to catch up with you at some time to impart some of the knowledge that I have picked up along the way, working on "My place"; winkieg.blogspot.com

Stephanie Trigg said...

Great! that sounds terrific. I've just had the quickest of quick looks at your blog, which looks like a fascinating story. Will be back to read more carefully at greater leisure soon. And yes, would be good to talk to someone who's worked with bluestone (as opposed to my partner, who simply dug a cellar into it: that's another story!).

Stephanie Trigg said...
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