Tag Archives: photography

Taking it to the streets

Anyone that follows me via Instagram (tpegler) will know I’ve been posting a lot of photos of street art. Partly this is a reflection of the city I live in. Melbourne is blessed with great artists and a culture that is evolving – becoming better at recognising differences between random acts of public art and mindless vandalism.

There were other factors that drew me to the street artists, too. When I made the difficult decision to walk away from a regular income to concentrate on creativity, family and health, I was drawn to others who have made similar choices. I wanted to surround myself with ideas, courage and creativity.

The main reason I began photographing street art is I became acutely aware of transience. What’s here today isn’t necessarily still with us tomorrow. An artist can spend days on a magnificent piece, only to have idiot taggers deface it the following night or a council whitewash it after a week or two. To my mind, this makes sharing images of guerilla art important. As an author, I write a book but my work doesn’t really exist unless people read it. Art needs to be seen so I wanted the street art to live and be enjoyed beyond the back lanes and alleys around town.

After talking to a couple of street artists, I learned that there are different perspectives on the impermanence of their work. Some see the damage wrought by weather, wildlife and taggers as organic, unpredictable enhancements of their work. The art takes on a life of its own and grows into its setting.

At other public places, such as Hosier Lane in the CBD, artists take turns at showing their wares. A doorway off Flinders Street that featured a powerful portrait of Heath Ledger as the Joker, by OD, was recently repainted with an intricate stencil of an elderly woman’s lined face, by ELK. For all I know the door might have a new identity now. The artists understand their work has a limited time in the sun.

That said, there’s anger, too. When a significant piece of work is attacked by someone who clearly only aims to deface or destroy something they couldn’t do themselves, the art community understandably bristles. Sadly, no matter how savvy the town becomes, there will always be morons and vandals.

Anyway, just as I feel honoured to hang out with other authors and illustrators, I get a great deal of pleasure wandering around the city and recognising the work of local artists. I now have a small piece by Baby Guerilla on the wall in my office (purchased from a gallery) and hope to collect other artists’ works. Why? Because each piece is a reminder of the power of art – to make us think, feel and understand other people’s stories.

I’ll share some favourite images here and in posts to come. Maybe the inspiration will flow through to you, too.

Detail from Once bitten, twice shy by Rone and Everfresh in Hosier Lane
Detail from Once bitten, twice shy by Rone and Everfresh in Hosier Lane
Baby Guerilla wheat paste in Brunswick
Baby Guerilla wheat paste in Brunswick
Beautiful work by Hush in Blender Lane, CBD
Beautiful work by Hush in the CBD

All photos are my own. For further insight into street art, check out Dean Sunshine’s Land of Sunshine or, for a YA spin, Cath Crowley’s fantastic Graffiti Moon.

Celestial

Celestial light

The angels arrived like stealth bombers, sweeping each suburb, each street, each home.

#Rapture trended immediately on Twitter, as fundamentalists claimed their moment of triumph had arrived.

All Theo knew for sure was that these angels had nothing in common with those he’d learned about in Sunday School. He heard the screams, saw flames flare and knew there’d be no inner calm, no glow of divine love accompanying visitation.

A practical man, he didn’t see any point cowering beneath a blanket or bracing himself in a doorway. This wasn’t an earthquake or wildfire. It was an Act of God no insurance company ever envisaged.

So he strolled, barefoot, out into the summer night. Stepped off the gutter and onto the warm bitumen. Wriggled his toes on the rough surface. Watched and waited.

In the instant his angel swooped, he understood. They weren’t messengers. They were auditors, celestial census collectors. And pest controllers.

The angel scanned his soul and it was like immersion in an arctic sea. He was aware his ledger, his personal balance of good versus evil, was under assessment.

Then he was kneeling on the road, not in praise but simple gratitude. He stood, slowly. Inhaled and savored the air entering his lungs. His skin tingled. He wondered who else had survived.

He knew the angels would be back in a few hundred years. And that no one would remember they’d been before.

Flash Fiction

As noted in my previous post, writing time has been rare for me this year. Perhaps that’s why I’m so attracted to the flash fiction site, Melbourne by Dusk.

That and I’ve always liked looking for the unspoken stories in photographs and images. MbD feels like a place where those stories are whispered for the first time.

It’s also a place where anyone can submit a story or photograph and potentially be published. Those opportunities aren’t as common as they should be.

Here’s another of my submissions.

And here are some of the combinations I’ve particularly enjoyed since the site launched.

He kissed me…

It’s probably just the angle…

The wind fell oddly still.

One of the things I notice from authors I follow on Twitter is how important it is to be ‘writing fit’. Just as you can’t expect to get on a bike for the first time in months and ride at your best, I can’t expect to cut myself off from creative writing and then just fall back into it when the moment arises. I need to keep practising, even if only in short bursts. I need to be trying things. Letting ideas emerge to see how resilient they are. Flash fiction is a great way to flex the creative muscles.

As to other stuff going down,

– As we had to cancel our planned Japan trip, my mob is heading to the Top End soonish instead. Bring on the sun and fun.
– Not many sleeps to the Tour de France. Kind of wish I hadn’t read this book on the eve of my favourite sporting event. For those of you who may consider reading it, the writing/translation/editing is lack lustre. But the contents are mind-boggling.
– I now have a window beside my desk at work. OK, it mostly overlooks air conditioning units and a massive Ikea sign but it’s still a window onto the world. It’s through watching the world that we find the stories we want to tell.
– Speaking of which, if you didn’t catch Go Back To Where You Came From on SBS last week, please check it out online. Many stories. Many tears. Great TV.
– Last but not least, I’m aware that this blog is broken – randomly vanishing and reappearing. Maybe it’s a metaphor for my year. Either way, we’re looking into it.

Places that talk

Book reviewers sometimes talk about how a particular tome successfully captured “a sense of place” by evoking the sights, sounds and smells of a location. For me, “a sense of place” has another meaning.

Sometimes I’ll visit a new destination (or spend new time at an old one) and my story radar will be triggered, big time. Tasmania’s Port Arthur is one place where I can just about feel the past mingling with the present. The Kangaroo Island setting for my next book, is another such place. The moment I walked in the door of our holiday cottage, I had a sense that a story was brewing.

A friend recently referred me to a website, Opacity that really captures a sense of place in an eery fashion. I confess I’m a sucker for photographing decrepit buildings, grimy statuary and gnarled tree trunks… but not if it means breaking and entering or risking life and limb. As a kid, curiosity saw me explore numerous dangerous sites- old mines, empty buildings and even the stormwater tunnels under a Melbourne suburb. As an adult, I’m less intrepid… or maybe more conscious of risk and less willing to push my luck.

I took the Fallen Angels shot below (click for full size) somewhere in New York. I like it because the cherubs’ stained faces are sulky and sinister – like they’ve changed teams. It makes me wonder what they did to fall from grace. Imagine having them over your doorway. What vibe would they bring to your building? What would they get up to when you’re not looking?

Fallen Angels
Fallen Angels