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!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Year with Bluestone: Contested Site

I sometimes think there might be a chapter or section in this book about bluestone and graffiti. It would include the many and fabled prisoner's initials, as well as the stretches of modern urban graffiti.

Bluestone's an unlikely surface, you would think, being so uneven, but this doesn't seem to be a problem for street artists. There's one image I'll photograph next week if it's still there, though: a series of train carriages painted on the smooth wall above, leaving the bluestone untouched below.

But here are three photographs of a site in Carlton. I took the first photo about a week ago, with a heavy white tag over the bottom half of the Aboriginal flag, including the bluestone foundations at the bottom. This is the side of a house on Nicholson St, near the corner of Alexandra Parade. The house on the corner has been demolished, leaving this vacant grass corner.

Here's the second photo, from two days ago,with the yellow sun and red deser  painted back in:

And here's the third, from yesterday, with a tag across the sun...

There's clearly some kind of struggle going on here. Would it be actively, politically, against the Aboriginal flag? Or just the temptation of that gorgeous yellow sphere?  Either way, the layers of paint must be getting thicker and thicker. Eventually the uneven stone surface will become smooth.

I'll post further updates if this wall changes again.

[UPDATE}: Well, that was quick. The site was repainted and the lower parts finished,

Monday, Feb 23:


Anonymous said...

The Edinburgh Castle Hotel, Brunswick, cnr Albion and Sydney, is one of the larger bluestone pubs around. Underneath the render. Its in a book by cunningham about brunswick pubs.

Alison said...

I was telling someone about this wall yesterday so it's great to read this post, Stephanie... This is indeed a very interesting site. Before the mural of the Aboriginal flag, there was a graffiti piece on this wall. I do not know who did the mural of the flag; I wondered if it was in response to this wall being near one of the test drilling sites for the East West tunnel - perhaps the mural was intended to assert an ownership of the land that precedes and post-dates struggles over the road link. The first big tag, called a 'throw-up', in white 2D bubble letters, is by Nost, who tags everything, everywhere. I've seen tags and throw-ups by him all over the city. Tagging in this way asserts a kind of ownership; the writer has taken possession of the wall as a space for writing. So, although when I saw Nost's throw-up over this mural I did sigh a bit with regret, I also understand that, in his eyes, perhaps this is just a wall, up for grabs. It may also be, of course, that this is not 'just a wall'; the fact that there was a large graffiti mural there before the mural of the flag is important. Perhaps they see the flag mural as showing disrespect to a piece of graffiti history. (I still think that writing over an image of the Aboriginal flag isn't a great thing to do - as my colleague Lachlan MacDowall said yesterday, when images of Aboriginal people, including their flag, are already subject to disrespect and discrimination in White mainstream cultures, why contribute to it?) Subsequent to Nost's throw-up, your pictures show an attempt to 'restore' the mural, followed by a tag in the yellow circle, followed by what might indicate some kind of détente in process, or at least an attempt to indicate détente is possible. It will be interesting to see what happens!

Stephanie Trigg said...

Thanks for that tip, Anonymous! I have been to that pub once or twice to hear my son play piano! I'll also look out for the book, too.

And Alison's comment shows just how complex the graffiti culture is, yes? Makes me realise how although the circle has been re-painted over the "Prime" tag of yesterday, the big pink-tongued creature is also painted over the yellow. How exciting!!

CDH said...

The character (grub monster) and tag is by 'Prizm'.
The conversation is made more interesting because graffiti is criminalized under the pretense of property rights but all property rights are derived from Aboriginal dispossession. In a sense, the flag mural reinforces the graffiti writer's claim to their practice.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Thanks, CDH: I've since seen the grub monster much closer to home, and will keep looking it out for it. I'll post again about this site as there have been some interesting developments. One painting bore a message: "This aint a Race issue: it's a graffiti requirement". And the NOST tag again, and then a "RIP NOST" sign. It's obviously very complicated...