Photo of a house—sized painting of a wise looking woman elder at the side of Sneaky Possum in Chippendale, New South Wales, Australia.

Flâneur stop 1—Chippendale

By Oliver Damian

What I like about living in Ultimo, one of the villages in the city of Sydney is that most of the time I can just get out of the house and walk. Sometimes I walk aimlesslessly. Sometimes I walk to get to a particular place. This time I was on my way to volunteer for the first ever Techcrunch Startup Battlefield in Australia. I ended up walking through Abercrombie Street. So I thought I'd get a flat white from Something for Jess along the way. So I did. I continued to walk a bit further. Then I had to stop and cross the road. This house-sized mural caught my attention.

I don't know who the person painted in the mural was or the artist who painted it. It didn't matter. I just felt how the painting exuded strength, power and wisdom—as I stood across from it towering above me. The mural felt alive. To me, this is one difference between enjoying street art like this versus art in museums such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In an museum, the experience is curated. Someone is paid to put artworks and paintings together, situate them in the space set aside for them, and classify them according to artist, theme, artistic movements (impressionist, cubists, etc) or cultural cohorts (Asian Art, Rennaissance Art, Islamic Art, etc). There are plaques one can look at to see who made the artwork and when. In special exhibitions, one can also read brochures, or pamphlets on the stories about the artist and the artworks. As one exits via the gift shop, one can even buy a big coffee table book packaging the exhibition experience to take home.

In a saunter, I can curate my own experience of street art or not. The experience can be as random as I want it to be. I can create the stories in my mind. With this mural I imagined a medicine woman. She can heal what ails the soul. She gives me magical plants, and prescribes to me that I must catch this slimy green glowing frog that can only be found in a pond buried deep inside a thick forest on top of a trecherous mountain. If and when I catch that frog, I should lick its sleepy eyes. This will cure my heart that has been broken since I was five.

In his youth Albert Einstein spent a year, loafing aimlessly. You don't get anywhere by not “wasting” time—something, unfortunately, that the parents of teenagers tend to frequently forget.

—Carlo Rovelli

References

  1. Art Gallery of NSW, undated, Art Gallery of New South Wales, weblog, viewed 17 November 2017, <https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/>.
  2. Broadsheet Media, 2017, 'Something for Jess', Broadsheet Sydney, weblog, viewed 17 November 2017, <https://www.broadsheet.com.au/sydney/cafes/something-jess>.
  3. Burns, M. 2017, 'HealthMatch wins TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Australia', TechCrunch, weblog, viewed 17 November 2017, <https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/15/healthmatch-wins-techcrunch-startup-battlefield-australia/>.
  4. Damian, O. 2017, 'Knights — flat white in shining customer amour', oliver-damian.space, weblog, viewed 17 November 2017, <https://www.oliver-damian.space/knights-coffee.html>.
  5. Rovelli, C. 2015, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Riverhead Books, New York.