Monday, September 29, 2008

words on walls

You have to love blogging. It is community building at its best. From these words on digital pages I have met so many interesting people. Made great friends. Experienced a diversity of virtual connections. But the latest has got to take the cake.

Ever taken much notice of the graffiti I use as an identifier? I took it on an instamatic camera (ah life before digital) when I was a teenager spending six months living in Sydney. I’d been catapulted from Wellington (population under 300,000) to a city of more than 3 million. It was 1982. Despite this era being the dizzy intersection of punk and post-punk, I put on my best frock and got a proper job, in an office doing the most menial work on a big government health study.

My time in Sydney cemented my love of graffiti. BUGA UP was at its height. Writings on walls, pre-tagging, were witty, political and an emerging art form. One sunny day in Paddington, the following spray made me laugh.



Oh the irony.

Fast forward 25 years and I am living in Australia again. As I flipped through some old photos, the words seemed just a relevant now I find myself amidst the whole food blog/foodie pretension/food porn thing. It seemed the perfect bridge between my disparate blogs. Ironic? Moi!

Then a short while ago, while bringing yet another blog to life, I got a comment from one of the people responsible for the words on the wall. I’ve got Andra’s (coincidentally another outspoken kiwi) permission to share the story. Here it, as she told me via email.

…if you remember the period and the area. Darlinghurst was full of arty squats. Kings Cross was squalid. Paddington was the height of pretension south of the bridge.

My friends and I lived (and died) in the coffee shops of Darlo, Victoria Rd and Oxford St. We fancied ourselves as real punks, feminists, artists and voyagers but we were complete wankers.

That was when the book "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche" had become popular. I think the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend (which we read) did a big feature on the 'arty punks of paddington.. or darlo.. and the coffee shop scene'. We stayed up all night (as we did) and decided that my 'real punks can't spell cappoc cuppa.. coffee' was clever.

We were so artschool! The trouble we had organising the logistics. Who had access to a car! What sort of paint. Who was going to be lookout. Where were we going to paint. I think we ended up with 5 lookouts, 1 driver and 1 painter. I think we sprayed in 3 locations, Darlo, Ultimo and Paddington. The Paddo location stayed up for a while. I can't remember exactly where cause it's all changed and I've moved but the bottom end of Glenmore Rd near Oxford St on the borders of Kings Cross/Rushcutters/Darlo is where I remember that one.

We really were ahead of the graffiti curve in Australia! I think that spray also got featured shortly after in a coffee table type book on public art or punk art.


I love stories that come full circle.

Words on walls, tags, public art, whatever – is by nature temporary. I'm glad this story has had its moment in the sun again, even if it is in yet another transient medium.

Cross-posted at Health, Philosophy, Politics and Other Rants

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8 Comments:

Blogger stickyfingers said...

Great story. Brings back memories of my own eighties Art School Punk days. The words "...friends lived and died in cafes" especially rang true for me. We thought we were radical but we were just a bunch of ex-private school kids with funny hair and wearing studded leather. I wasn't into the drugs, but we lost a few friends to heroin and seeing a couple of overdoses was enough for me to cut ties with the scene permanently.

It was an exciting time though, and it almost makes me feel like the current crop of art school kids are way tamer. But perhaps that's for the best?

12:35 pm  
Blogger Wendy said...

Great story. Reminded me of this cartoon:
http://bigeyedeer.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/this-cartoon-wrote-a-sweary-word-on-your-toilet-wall/

3:33 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Wendy - that is so true. The bloke on the right looks like the type responsible for all the tagging on my house (ah the inner city blues!) when I'd do anything for an 'Edward' :)

4:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh the halcyon days of our youth...it reminded me of miss kit and moi spraying 'Stop the Drops' during a particularly wet Decembre circa 1983...and that particular witty misdeed making The Truth Newspaper!!
Au revoir!

3:13 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Streuth - The Truth! Is that you Miss Debrina? Have you moved on from pastries to other local cuisine yet?

8:07 am  
Anonymous glutenfreeforgood said...

Very nice denouement to your identifier graffiti. Love the mix of ingredients in this recipe — especially with the philosophical backdrop of 1980s punk.

I've been out of the loop lately and had temporarily forgotten how well-written your blog posts are. As the mom of a millennium version of street-artist/musician/free spirit, I can relate (albeit from a different perspective) to your tender irony.

As always, your posts are a welcomed change from the typical food fare. Well done.

In good health,
Melissa

11:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have been eating rather a lot of mediterrainian fare lately with a big emphasis on fish, egg plant, olives and tomatoes. My golly, my gosh, the tomatoes are so sweet! They have that fabulous smell. Just woofed down a big chunk of norwegian salmon, a rat-a-tat-touie, a chunk of delicious bagette, some frites de maison and a couple of glasses of superiour rose, grown from the grape vines I pass on my bike! Still go weak at the knees for a good croissant de almandes though.....soon to be espanoled......

4:46 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Now if only my favourite anonymous commenter vacationing in Europe had a food blog!

Melissa - thanks :)

7:51 am  

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