Observations

Remapping Sydney Meridian

Follow Lily Hibberd on this virtual walk, on which she retraces her steps along the Meridian line from Sydney Observatory to Sydney Town Hall. Every day at midday from Monday 8 June to 1 July 2020, Lily will guide you along the line, one Meridian ‘station’ a day over 24 days. This walk reveals the history of Sydney’s Meridian, a north-south line transecting the Observatory’s Transit telescope, and the role it played in imposing an empire of regulated time on the colony as well as its connection to surveying and laying claim to the land.

As she retraces the Meridian line, you will find out how far it has shifted over time. Her walk suggests that neither time nor territory can be bound by absolute rules. In this rift of time and space lies a paradox: Eurocentric and colonial premises, including technological determinism, cannot change the reality that time itself is impossible to pin down – that time is always changing.

This blog has been created for ‘Boundless – out of time’, Lily’s month-long artist and research residency at Sydney Observatory. Presented by Powerhouse Museum as part of NIRIN, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney 2020.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Station 9: No. 1 Margaret St.

June 16, 2020

Lily Hibberd
Cross the road. Just past the sign for number 1 Margaret Street (in a post-modern paradise) on the wall behind the giant grey slab, is Station 9. While Sydney’s time service was inaugurated upon the establishment of the Observatory, and the first drop of the Time Ball on 5 June 1858, the quality of its instrumentation cast doubts over the precision of these measures.

Station 8: Campos Coffee

June 15, 2020

Lily Hibberd
Out from under the highway overpass, follow Clarence Street, pass two pillars in front of SnapFitness, until you reach number 45, and on behind the column facing Campos Coffee is Station 8. But not as far as the bus stop… During its first 70 years, the reckoning of time on the Australian continent required constant calibration across an array of meridians at observatories and trigonometric stations.

Station 7: Freeway Underpass Pillar

June 14, 2020

Lily Hibberd
Curve around to the right, but keep an eye out for the bike lane. Take the zebra crossing to the other side of Kent St and then a left along Kent over Gas Lane. After the Australia Post box, cross over again.

Station 6: Green Wall

June 13, 2020

Lily Hibberd
Wandering down along the hill, after the solar panel and the overpass to nowhere, count the fifth tree and on the green wall is Station 6. The use of two optical angles to determine a third, known as triangulation, has been used as a geometric method to measure the Earth as far back as the 6th century BCE.

Station 5: SH Ervin Gallery steps

June 12, 2020

Lily Hibberd
To continue, turn toward the freeway, and take the bike path that runs alongside it. Watch out for the men in Lycra! Cross over the footbridge, trail down the steep path… at reaching road level, in another couple of metres is Station 5.

Station 4: Stone Pillars

June 11, 2020

Lily Hibberd
Walking alongside the Fort Street Public School and note the sign: ‘Success Through Diligence’ … keep going. In the little cul-de-sac, on the left there is lonely stone pillar, this is Station 4.

Station 3: Grey Doors

June 10, 2020

Lily Hibberd
After exiting the main gates of the Observatory, continue to the right, downhill to the corner of Upper Fort St. Just behind the children’s crossing sign, on a set of grey doors, is Station 3. The first meridian measure was supposed to have been established when the Observatory was erected in 1858.

Station 2: Sydney Observatory South Marker

June 9, 2020

Lily Hibberd
  On the front lawn of the Observatory today stands a funny white structure, in fact a thermometer shed – which forms part of yet another key historical role of the Observatory: meteorology.

Station 1: Sydney Observatory Transit Circle Telescope

June 8, 2020

Lily Hibberd
On the ground floor inside Sydney Observatory, I found myself right in front of the Sydney Observatory Transit Telescope – at on the origin of Sydney Meridian. This is Station 1 . I’m guessing you want to know how a meridian is made?

An Introduction: Boundless – Remapping Sydney Meridian

June 8, 2020

Lily Hibberd
Over these next four weeks we are going to retrace a path that I walked, along what is known as the Meridian of Sydney, which will carry us through plural dimensions of time, past and present, as well as space.