Today I have plans: a prowl through six lanes known for their street art. On the way to Hosier Lane I encounter three anorexic gentlemen, besuited, briefcased, and eternally waiting to cross at the lights; a foretaste of wall-and-footpath art; and a few other pieces of street art.
I’m not the first to enter Hosier Lane, camera at the ready, at 7.30 this morning. Two young men with far more sophisticated equipment than me are already scrutinising every image.
Pursuing my project of failure to read maps, I can’t find the next lane on my list and my nose leads me across the railway lines towards parkland with an Aboriginal-sounding name. Birrarung Marr, river of mists, is the way the Kulin Nation refer to what we, colonial toadies, named Melbourne. As I cross a long pedestrian bridge I hear a fugitive sound and suddenly I’m in the presence of gong-like music. The source is a collection of thirty-nine upturned bells controlled, if you must destroy the magic, by a computer, and installed to celebrate the centenary of federation. Enchanted, I walk amongst them feeling peace in the heart of the city, and forget all about laneways. I’m eager to see what else my nose will lead me to.
I amble along the river. A three-legged tiled sculpture by Deborah Halpern called “The angel”. An old stone drinking fountain. A stubby wooden wombat. A mosaiced and graffitied elephant. Birrarung Wilam (River Camp) designed by Inigeoys artists Vicki Couzens, Lee Darroch and Treahna Hamm, an Aboriginal circle of stones carved with animal images. An Aboriginal totem pole and pavement engravings. A playground featuring children’s drawings. A splendid red in art and nature. My nose is serving me well.
My stomach suggests it’s time for breakfast, so I cross the vast expanse of tiles in Federation Square to a meal that satisfies both hunger and my aesthetic sense.
Where to next? There’s a photography exhibition at the NGV, so I cross over to the Arts Precinct and wander around the sculptures surrounding the two buildings, including a lumpy one by Rauschenberg and and a glorious female by Henry Moore.
I go into the gallery through the back door under a stained glass ceiling, look down on a sparkling chandelier, pass a buxom woman and a quizzical man, and enter the darkness and light of Bill Henson’s photographs, of which my representations are feeble. For a better look, click here.
The second photographer I visit, William Eggleston, is a portrait specialist capturing the feel of a period.
It’s now time for what’s billed as a Garden River Cruise, the only disappointment of my Melbourne visit. There are far more river works than gardens, or is it just that I’m suffering overload?
And so … back to the apartment to wash my hair and finish my tiny bottle of Grand Marnier.
… a whole collection of watery and airy things. For once I manage to capture birds – one a camera-flirt to rival my great niece, even going so far as to sit on my knee. He also attempts to kidnap my scone, a very good one: he has discrimination.
There are plenty of sounds as I amble along the boardwalk: the throaty satisfaction of the pelicans as a fishing boat approaches; the croarrr of seagulls; the insistent ringing of invisible bell-birds; the lazy midday quarking of crows; the cello-coos of doves in the bridge superstructure; the metallic tap of walkers' shoes; the occasional whirrrr of an an approaching bike; the excited cry of a boy when he spots seals: “Mum! Look what I found”; and behind it all the continuous noise of traffic on the highway. Signs provide amusement, history, and an idea for a future walk.
The tide is heading towards low: colonies of sea urchins, indicators of healthy water, are easy to spot, nudged up against rocks. Ripples, oyster-encrusted rocks, the blue green under the bridge, even the mud and sand-patterns are all jewel-like.
Which brings me back to Fabergé, in case you're wondering. The stroll along the board walk began as an adjunct to going to the movies, to see Fabergé. Screening was cancelled because they'd sent John the wrong DVD, so I took my Fabergé where I could find him, along with many other treasures.