Zine scene defies death by digital

 

My piece in the Sunday Age

My piece in the Sunday Age

Zines are low-cost, low-fi, handcrafted and independent print publications. I recently wrote a piece for The Age, a Melbourne newspaper, about how zines are bucking the trend of death by digital. In this piece, I focused on the Melbourne zine scene. I looked at why people are attracted to making and buying zines, and why institutions such as libraries are collecting these ephemeral publications.

Read the whole article here.

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Seattle: Pioneer Square galleries

Pioneer Square is the historic centre of Seattle, rebuilt after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. It was the city’s heart of industry with the first lumber mill, where the phrase skid road/row was coined due to the logs being skidded down the road from the mill. The beautiful brick buildings of the area are the largest concentration of Romanesque architecture in the United States. Today, these buildings are home to galleries, antique stores, book shops, rug galleries, bike shops, restaurants and cafes.

Pioneer square

Pioneer square

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square

Two galleries I stumbled into had particularly interesting exhibitions. The Jackson Street Gallery was showing photographs by Edward S Curtis. Curtis was a photographer who set out on an ambitious project to compile a 20 volume work of photographs documenting the Native Americans in the early 1900s. The work was based on subscription to the set. He failed to secure enough subscriptions and funding and it took around 20 years to finally complete his project. By this time, he had faded into obscurity and this type of photography had gone out of fashion. Few copies of his work remain today, and now fetch very high prices. Complete sets of the 20 volume work sell in the millions. The exhibition showcases many examples of Curtis’ photographs.

Edward S Curtis via Library of Congress Creative Commons

Edward S Curtis via Library of Congress Creative Commons

Davidson Galleries is currently showing an exhibition of hand-coloured lithographs from John J Audubon’s mid 19th century works Birds of America and The Quadrupeds of North America. Like Curtis’ work, these folios were produced based on subscription, with Birds of America now holding the record for the world’s most expensive book. There are only 120 copies remaining intact, with one of them held in Melbourne’s State Library of Victoria.

John J Audubon's Birds of America

John J Audubon’s Birds of America

It is Melbourne Rare Book Week back home, so it seemed serendipitous to find both of these exhibitions by chance while exploring Seattle.

God bless America

God bless America

Happy 200th birthday Sir Redmond Barry. Time for some street art?

Ned Kelly street art in a Melbourne laneway

Ned Kelly street art in a Melbourne laneway

This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir Redmond Barry. Barry is best known as the Victorian Supreme Court judge who presided over the trial of Ned Kelly. Unlike Kelly who has been romanticised through paintings, movies and even street art, Barry’s colourful story has faded with the passing of time. Barry was an avid book collector and patron of reading, the arts and education. Barry had a significant role shaping many of the cultural and social institutions that make Melbourne the city it is today. He was a founder of the Melbourne Mechanics Institute (now the Athanaeum), the Melbourne Public Library (now the State Library of Victoria) and its Art Gallery, the Supreme Court Library, and was a founder and the first Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. His ideas and energy turned “a weak struggling settlement … [into]…a bright and brilliant colony” (Edmund Finn).

In his days as a Barrister, Barry represented indigenous people on a probono basis. He believed in the rehabilitation of criminals. These were surprisingly liberal attitudes for the times. He also challenged some of the moral codes of the day by having a long-term mistress and by having an open affair with a married women on-board his voyage to Australia from London.

The Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV) and the Supreme Court of Victoria are currently showing a joint exhibition to celebrate Barry’s bicentennial. It’s an interesting insight into Barry and his role in shaping Melbourne. Perhaps one day we’ll see some street art depicting him too.