A VISUAL LIFE | Creative Direction + Design

STREETSCAPES // industrial pyrmont

Pyrmont was home to the Eora people but soon became an industrial hub as Sydney grew as a colony. Originally established as a sandstone quarry until more industries were introduced such as a sugar refinery. During this expansion many warehouses were built to house these businesses. In the 1800’s, the suburb was also densely populated due to the local workers living in the lovely terraces you can still see today.

Darling Island Bond & Free Store is a beautiful brick structure that has fallen into disrepair. This site began as the Australian Thermite Company Pty Ltd and was roughly built in the early 1900’s. Thermite was a metal oxide mix used for welding, commonly on trains and rail tracks in that period. It changed occupants a couple of decades later and you can still see the faded signage with the painted lettering for Bond & Free Store.

Arrow Marine building was designed by Sydney Harbour Trust’s Chief Engineer, H D Walsh, who changed the face of the harbour waterfront at the time. It was built in 1917, at the same time as the adjacent wharves and was used as a dockside garage and facility for the workmen. This significant building is important as it shows early 20th century design as well as being functional. It is also the only known surviving wharf structure of its type in Sydney with the original timber gable.

In the last decade this area has had major redevelopment with high rise apartment blocks changing the historic landscape. Luckily there are still some traces of this rich history and while some sites have heritage protection, my biggest fear is that more buildings like these will be lost in the future.

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DEAR DIARY // winter blues

I have a confession and I know I’m going to sound like a typical Sydneysider, but I’m not a fan of winter – AT ALL. It’s only the beginning of the season but I’m already dreaming of warmer climes. While sitting at home drinking endless cups of coffee by the heater, I’m transported to Mykonos having cocktails on the beach. When walking in the rain past this aqua apartment block in Bondi, I’m strolling under the sun among the pastel buildings in Miami. I’ll just have to play out these illusions until I work out a lifestyle where I can travel the world enjoying an endless summer.

TYPE-RIGHTER // all you need is love

Love is universal and it’s a recurring theme in art, music and film from every culture. We’re told about ‘the power of love’ with many of us experiencing ‘tainted love’ and some people think that ‘love will tear us apart’. Whether you believe in ‘higher love’, you’re ‘addicted to love’, you feel ‘all out of love’ or for you ‘love is a battlefield’ – there’s no denying it’s everywhere. I came across these murals in Bondi which are simple but make a big impact on the street. I realised that I’ve photographed street art in the past based on the word LOVE so it might be a good idea to start a series on this idea. This concept could be my next ‘big love’ so if you have any suggestions on where I can find some great examples of L-O-V-E artwork let me know.

WEEKEND WRAP // vinyl dreams

Being a creative I keep adding my plans to a growing checklist of future projects and business concepts. While I’ve always liked the idea of a book shop/café, it’s my love of music and pubs which makes a record store/bar the ultimate dream. Since there’s so many other things in the pipeline this has been just a pipe dream. Mojo Record Bar has done this perfectly, an underground bar located in the heart of Sydney that has been open since 2012. It has a cool vibe and even cooler playlist with great drinks and food. At the entrance there’s a retro record store with racks of new and pre-loved vinyl records and bar stools to sit and drink while browsing.

I’m getting nostalgic here but this place takes me back to the days of spending hours at music stores with friends. I grew up on cult movies like Empire Records wanting to be Liv Tyler so much that I even wore a mini kilt, fluffy sweater and boots (which I still have as I can’t part with them!). Then it was High Fidelity where I wanted to hang with the guys at Championship Vinyl and date John Cusack (who I still want to date!). Since neither of these film plots are happening in my real life, I’ll live out these fantasies at Mojo while I get to work on the rest of my list.

MASTERSTROKE // robert mapplethorpe

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ABOVE: ‘Self-portrait’, 1980 (gelatin silver); ‘Self-portrait’, 1983 (gelatin silver); ‘Self-portrait’, 1980 (gelatin silver). BELOW: ‘Patti Smith’, 1979 (gelatin silver); ‘Marianne Faithfull’, 1974 (gelatin silver).

 

BELOW: ‘Deborah Harry’, 1978 (gelatin silver); ‘David Hockney’, 1976 (gelatin silver). BOTTOM: ‘Isabella Rossellini’, 1988 (gelatin silver); ‘Lucy Ferry’, 1986 (gelatin silver).

 

I wish I had a chance to post this before the exhibition closed but life just got in the way. Perfectly timed with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the renowned work of Robert Mapplethorpe: the perfect medium was on show at the Art Gallery of NSW. He was a controversial figure who pushed boundaries and his art was ground breaking. His black and white photography is legendary but it was inspiring to see some of his work that I wasn’t familiar with. Being a designer, it was also nice to see some of the graphic examples from gay publications he collaborated with.

An enclosed room housed the more erotic images as well as his published books – X, Y and Z Portfolios. This three part book series details homosexual sadomasochistic imagery (X), floral still lifes (Y) and nude portraits of African-American men (Z). I loved the sculptural and evocative florals, shot in bold colour with a meticulous play of light and shadows. He was famous for celebrating the human form and his involvement in New York’s gay scene cultivated this, but his contemporary images also caused outrage.

His artistic methods and personal life are also detailed which is fascinating. Robert was friends with famous artists and musicians who he photographed regularly, including his muse Patti Smith. I idolised these icons so I couldn’t go past sharing them here and imagining the story behind each setting. Robert Mapplethorpe had an amazing but tragically short life, although he lives on in his pictures and as he would say ‘perfection in form’.

STREETSCAPES // train of thought

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I love the Blue Mountains and I go there regularly to visit family and friends. After moving out of my apartment, I stayed with my parents before I could move into my new house. It was nice living back where I grew up and it gave me a different outlook. When you’re young you can’t wait to leave the familiar and explore a whole new world.

Even though I was busy packing and organising my next move I did enjoy returning to my hometown. Years ago I had grown tired of my surrounds but now I saw it in a new light. An appreciation for the little things like the quiet atmosphere and getting back to nature.

I relished sitting on the intercity train (which I loved since it felt like a Wes Anderson film), reading a book while admiring the adorable historic stations along the way. The commute to the city gave me time to think of the next phase of my life – literally a train of thought.

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