Friday, July 19, 2024
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Neighbourhood – layers of memory

SURRY HILLS: I walked past the window on Bourke Street and the image immediately caught my eye. There was a set of eyes peering at me from a frame and beneath that some squiggly, colourful, abstract designs. It was a pop-up piece of art in a shop window.

I stood in front of the art and from the reflection on the glass I could see the old terrace apartments behind me. I poised myself to take a photo of the image with my phone, I could then see my image in the reflection. I took the photo.

When I had a look, I could see so many layers in the picture I had taken. There was the original artist’s image, the terrace behind me and then my own reflection. All of the images layered on top of each other – alive and stagnant at the same time.

I am perpetually looking at my neighbourhood again and again as I walk the streets, and every time I see something different. There is always something new to see and explore even if it has been there for a long time.

I like this tension in my neighbourhood of the old and the new. There are people who have lived in the community for decades and then there are those who only pop in to work or to sample a trendy café. All of them embraced by my neighbourhood.

Sometimes I wish change would happen more quickly. I look at old buildings and wonder why they seem so derelict. But other times I lament that change is happening too fast. I bristle at those who use my neighbourhood for mere socialising and then leave their mark often though rubbish on the footpaths and loud laughing and talking on the streets in the early hours of the morning.

I smile at the old Greek nonnas who still live in those massive five-bedroom terraces, often alone but happily seeing this as their home. They are living memories of other older versions of my neighbourhood. I hope that never changes.

I hope that the neighbourhood keeps its identity though all the iterations of itself as time passes.

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