A couple of years back I was contacted by a photographer named Alex Mattea. From 1987 to 1989 Alex photographed every building and every street in the Sydney CBD. He wanted to show me the results. During the 1980s Alex was alarmed by the head-long speed of the city’s transformation.
Inside the Collection
Picture a large stained glass window inside a cathedral. You see a variety of colours - perhaps a contrast of red and blue, long slivers of yellow, or a striking sea of white. A pattern emerges, changing your interpretation of the window.
Sunday 11 September is the tenth anniversary of that horrendous and highly symbolic event, the ramming of two aircraft into skyscrapers in New York City and one into the Pentagon in Washington DC. This portion of a girder cut from one of the World Trade Center buildings, distorted and blackened by fire, serves as a poignant, physical reminder of the event.
A far swag of the world’s most famous buildings are the result of design competitions – completed winners include Florence’s Duomo, the White House, the Paris Opera, the Westminster Houses of Parliament, the Reichstag (twice) and the Centre Pompidou.
There's been some comment lately about the fact that for the first time, more than half of the human race lives in cities. At the same time, cities are being seen again in a generally positive light.
You might have seen in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald a piece about the Knock Down Rebuild (KDR) phenomenon. Across Sydney’s middle-ring suburbs – from Strathfield to Granville, Earlwood to Hurstville, Manly to Avalon - old timber, fibro and brick cottages are being purchased for ‘land value’, demolished and replaced with new homes.
Copper sheeting from St James Church, Sydney (1819-24) Occasionally we happen upon the previous lives of objects in our collection. Two pieces of roofing copper have been in the Powerhouse Museum's collection since 1946.
The demise of Osama bin Laden is certainly the news story of 2011. Among the torrent of analysis, news stories and blogs this event has generated, bin Laden’s home of the past five or six years has attracted considerable comment.
Well not just any incinerator. The Pyrmont incinerator was rather special, it was one designed by Walter Burley Griffin (1876-1937) in 1935. Memorable on the Pyrmont skyline for fifty years the incinerator or reverberator has inspired responses from a variety of artists even after its removal from the landscape.
I love ruins, and I’m not alone in this taste. A fair swag of the world’s most visited tourist sites are ruins: the Forum, the Great Wall, the Pyramids and so on – it’s an impressive list. A ruin is not a building damaged by storm, flood or earthquake.
The NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour has just released a report about asbestos and its terrible legacy. According to the report asbestos-related disease will soon be killing more people in Australia than car and traffic accidents.
By coincidence, two major city brewery sites are currently being redeveloped in both Sydney and Melbourne. The venerable Kent Brewery on Broadway, founded in 1835, is being transformed into Central Park, a new residential precinct.