Everyone knows that it is important to have ecological and environmental awareness and responsibility, yet every day we encounter a mess of packaging that is an eyesore and an assault on our aesthetic sensibilities and quality of visual life. Here’s an example of what I consider to be a much more clever and sensitive way of getting a message across. Brown paper packaging, simple one-colour printing, and using a recognised symbol as part of the illustration—resulting in a serious message delivered with lightness. In fact I kept the packaging and brought it home half way around the world in order to re-use it in some way! I’m momigami-ing it and using it in my next artists’ book.
Something I’ve never noticed before: the flags on Observatory Hill reflect current astronomical alignments. I was most pleased to make this discovery! Here is the full moon, the Southern Cross, Jupiter, as well as Mars and Saturn, which were retrograde. I’m inclined to check out the flagpole again next week—it should look rather festive because for the first time in ten years, five heavenly bodies will be retrograde at the same time, including Mercury, which is also about to transit the Sun.
We recently had a visitor from California. She was in Sydney only for a few days, but it seemed to me that her tour group managed to fit in quite a lot, doing things that I wouldn’t have thought of, like going to the Queen Victoria Building (it’s a great building, but it’s just a shopping arcade) and the koala park. I’ve never been to the koala park, but every time I drive by I glance up at the trees hoping to catch a glimpse of a koala or two. (No such luck, leading me to question the veracity of their existence.) When our visitor showed us some of her photos, it pleased me greatly to see that, rather than being predictable tourist pictures, they were of signage and words. She was particularly fascinated by the instructions posted on restroom doors, the likes of which I had never seen until yesterday when, myself playing tourist for the day, I visited Echo Point in the Blue Mountains.
Dump no waste
This notice is etched into the sidewalk in Honolulu’s Chinatown. I’m not sure if the fish is cheerfully oblivious, still swimming around in pristine waters, or if it has already swallowed a mouthful of waste, and is a warning to passers-by that this is the fate that awaits a fish if the oceans are polluted. With its bee-sting lips and googly eyes, it could easily be cousin to the fish that Bart pulls out of the water downstream from Monty Burns’s nuclear plant. Or is it just a happy carp?
Eucalyptus haemastoma—the scribbly gum—is one of my favourite eucalypts because of the beautiful scribbly tracks in the bark made by the larvae of the scribbly gum moth. The side of this re-purposed shipping container conjures up the idea of a kind of urban scribbly gum—scribbly tin—with its small-scale scratches and markings.
Hard to imagine really—the water looks so benign. But this is a huge mass of water, the closest land probably being San Francisco at a mere 3700 or so kilometres across the ocean. The sign, on Coconut Beach, Kauai, looks like it’s been warning swimmers for quite a few years, but I was too busy looking out for whales and watching the tropical fish in the shallows to be tempted to wade in more than ankle deep.
The sky was grey, the wind was howling and it was just starting to rain, but I just had to stop and take a picture of the children’s pool before beating a hasty retreat to the car. The pool, at Eastern Beach in Geelong, is a shallow area contained within the larger semicircular boardwalk. Whenever I visit the area I love walking around this boardwalk and taking in the view, especially across the bay to the You Yangs in the distance. This particular day, though, my head was down and my collar turned up, which is perhaps why my focus was closer, and I saw this painted sign for the first time.
International space station
For the last few weeks Jupiter and Venus have been visible, in close proximity, in the early evening sky. But on Wednesday evening it was extra special because, just after 5.30, the ISS flew between them. We stood outside and watched it appear low on the horizon, as if from nowhere, fly upwards between the planets, and continue its trajectory across the sky until it disappeared behind the clouds in the southeast. I was surprised by how clear and bright it was, amazed at the speed it travelled. I have seen the ISS before, once even from Mauna Kea, and this time it was no less thrilling. The sight of it engenders an emotional response in me—a sense of connectedness and wonderment. It is up there, above Earth, yet there are people living on it and you can follow it on Twitter and Instagram!
I didn’t notice it immediately because it’s normal to my Australian eye, but the spelling of ‘theatre’ here is rather unusual. The Queen Theatre, in Lahaina, now houses one of Front Street’s many commercial galleries. I wonder how it ended up with this English spelling rather than the American theater? A couple of blocks away the Maui Theatre is also a theatre, but the neighbouring towns of Kahului, Wailuku and Kihei have theaters, as you might expect.
Sunday afternoon, sunny and still. The shortest day is only a week away and it feels like it. The washing’s on the line but there’s not a hint of breeze—not good drying weather. I had great plans for today, but really I don’t feel like doing much except staring at nothing. I’ve never been one for having the tv on during the day, but this TV, etched in concrete, is kind of a good match for where my mind’s at. This particular TV is on the Front Street sidewalk in Lahaina, Maui, so I can stare at the grey and be reminded of those tropical shores as this southern hemisphere winter afternoon draws to a close.