Today as I was walking through Carlton I walked down a laneway where I know there to be a hidden space. If you know Carlton well you might recognise it. A fairly non-descript laneway opens up into a carpark, which I think has a bit of a different feel to the rest of the neighbourhood. It almost feels like a kind of rustic public square, hidden away behind Lygon Street.
It’s in the middle of a dense, urban area, but one of the residents has covered the ground floor of their building with a print of an ivy-covered wall.
It seems like something you’d expect to find in the country. It’s as though the resident has sought to create a sense of privacy and solitude in the city.
One the other side of the space, some folks have dragged out some furniture and seem to have been gathering together in the space:
The ivy-covered fence and the circle of chairs seem to me like opposite ways of inhabiting a neighbourhood.
A little while ago a few of these stickers turned up in our neighbourhood, at the corner of Richardson Street and Lygon Street. Last week I noticed that they had all been removed, but just like real rabbits another one turned up again soon after.
Rabbits are well known for breeding quickly, taking over and depleting resources. At our learning circle on Monday night we had a look at John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s picture book The Rabbits, which depicts the colonisation of this land as an arrival of rabbits.
This artwork is just down the street from our house. It’s a tile mounted on the wall separating two terrace houses. The design on the tile looks like it has been made using a photo of a flock of ostriches. It’s been there at least as long as I’ve known the neighbourhood (a bit over eight years) and I’ve often wondered whether there’s a reason why it’s been put there. Why ostiches?
I don’t really have any way of knowing what the artist’s intention was, but it has me wondering about the association of ostriches with cogntiive dissonance. Folklore has said that ostriches bury their heads in the sand, but we now know that isn’t actually what they’re doing. Still, ostriches have become associated with the practise of ignoring a problem and hoping it will go away – something human beings are very good at! So today I’m reflecting on problems that I’ve been trying to ignore.
I’ve noticed some of Mandy Beaumont’s poetry stuck up in different places around the neighbourhood before. On Sunday I noticed this on one of the poles outside Carlton Church of All Nations:
When I saw it I wondered about what it might mean.
My first response was that it sounded a bit like she was talking about workplace sexual harassment?
Why second response was to wonder if she was talking about marketing one’s self as a product.
The third thing I wondered was whether she was talking about arousing curiosity in others.
A labyrinth is a winding path, a bit like a maze, which can be found in many old cathedrals. People used to walk the path of the labyrinth as a kind of virtual pilgrimage. Many experienced it as a journey toward the divine, at the centre of the labyrinth.
The streets and lanes of our neigbourhoods can make interesting labyrinths. These are public labyrinths, travelled by many people every day.
If you would like to take part in a contemplative walk through Carlton North’s laneway labyrinth, we will be meeting at 7pm on April 8, outside 907 Drummond Street. The walk will go for about an hour. There will also be time to debrief over a cup of tea afterwards.
Since it is now getting colder in Melbourne, you will probably want to be prepared for cold and possibly wet weather! I also recommend wearing closed-toed, sensible shoes for walking in laneways.
Cost: If you can chip in $10 for the walk, this helps support me to organise more things like this.
If you’re interested in organising a Laneway Labyrinth walk in your area, let me know!
For more info contact Chris Booth – firstname.lastname@example.org / 0400641747