On Sunday morning I was painting my new bullnose verandah. Standing on the scaffolding at the front of the house I had a view of my neighbourhood. As I paint I talk with my neighbours as they come and go.
When I finish with the painting Catherine and I go to a neighbourhood picnic at McCleery Reserve. This was part of Neighbour Day 2015 an annual celebration of community by Relationships Australia. There was a lot of talk about traffic problems on Munroe Street, too many cars and no pedestrian crossing.
Later in the afternoon I went to the Anstey Village Street Party and Zine Fair in Florence Street. For some people Anstey is just another small station on the Upfield Line but for other people it is home. Brunswick is made up of small districts each with their own character and Anstey is its creative heart. It had some of the first legal wall of graffiti (see my posts Coffee with Jamit and Legal Street Art in Brunswick), two art galleries, lots of artist studios in the area and recently, a lot of new multi-storey apartments, (see my post Graffiti at The Commons).
The street party was a strange mix between an art event, like an exhibition opening, a trendy market and a garage sale. Free face painting for adults by kids. There were a few bicycle carts, Soul System providing music and The Good Brew Co. selling some kind of brew.
Some of the good citizens of the street art scene, Phoenix and Civil had been at work in Florence Street. The beautifully simple design of the street painting was clearly the work of Civil. I didn’t see Civil but I did talk with Phoenix.
In the Florence Street warehouse space, along with the Zine Fair there was Imprint, a non-profit student organisation from Melbourne Uni that “develops community based projects to drive social change”. The big map of Brunswick had been moved from the Desire Lines exhibition at Brunswick Arts Space (see my post Desire Lines @ Brunswick Arts).
How to be part of the community in the suburbs of a big city? Don’t drive your car, walk or ride a bicycle. Don’t live isolated in your house or in your backyard, but spend more time in your front yard. Talk to people. It is both simple and a very complex cultural problem because it needs to be supported by infrastructure, safe bicycle and pedestrian paths, better urban design along with cultural changes.
At both community events I saw the transport system failing; at the first a car reverse into a roundabout sign and, at Anstey the long neglected railway infrastructure breaking down and causing traffic jams at several intersecting roads. No bicycle or pedestrian fails were observed during my day in the neighbourhood.
March 30th, 2015 at 1:31 PM
Thanks for posting, Mark.
“Free face painting for adults by kids.”… Ouch! That’s my eye!
March 30th, 2015 at 1:41 PM
There were quiet a few people walking around with random dabs of coloured paint on their face fortunately without any eye injuries.
March 30th, 2015 at 2:30 PM
Mark these aware interesting observations. I love your photographs. Your writing is lovely too. And I know about these things.
Sent from my iPhone
March 30th, 2015 at 3:33 PM
I had a stall at that market – despite living far, far away. I guess you must have walked right past me at some point. It was a great day – absolutely perfect weather, and free food!
March 30th, 2015 at 4:32 PM
Sorry I missed you Sukie. It was a beautiful day.
March 30th, 2015 at 6:12 PM
As a Western Australian I have an excuse for seeming/being ignorant of the street art in Melbourne, but I have seen some of it in the inner city laneways and like what I see. Your blog adds to this fascination.
March 30th, 2015 at 10:35 PM
Thanks Greg. I hear that there is more street art happening in WA recently.