Melbourne's 86 tram route as a giant open air gallery of street art


Melbourne, Australia is internationally known for its street art and its trams. Melbourne Street Art 86 imagines Melbourne's 86 tram route as though it were a giant open air gallery of street art with its own regular tram service. The pages in the dark blue side bar below have photos of street art by the suburbs the tram passes through. Locations are noted by tram stop, street location and also on maps of the area that can be downloaded or printed. Other Melbourne suburbs rich in street art are also featured.

Take me to the site guide and quick gallery of street art CLICK HERE.
Tell me more about the 86 tram & sights along the way CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spot the difference

There is a reason I put the disclaimer on most pages that street art can be replaced or removed. To use a couple of big words, street art is ephemeral and every wall or surface is a potential palimpsest. 

In this case, I only noticed the difference when I was cropping some photos that I had taken on Sunday in better light than previously, at the Perry Street location in COLLINGWOOD - Smith Street.

Another example is below (also on the FITZROY - Getrude Street page.

Below in the top right hand corner, you can just see a hint of the work that used to be here. If you look on Google Street View you can often see older works in the same location as most of their images of this area were taken in 2009 and a lot has changed since then.

Following are some thoughts on a palimpsest (reproduced from my other blog Kevin Anslow: Facts and Fictions.

By Etcha (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Ever had that experience when you are talking with someone and they use a word you have never heard before, and somehow you just can't quite bring yourself to pause the conversation to ask what the hell it means?

"So, do you think the "Bla" is pertinent in Glotsky-Shockivic's work during his spotted purple period?

"Ah huh, perhaps," head nodding, trying appear casual and entirely at home, while hoping the conversation will move on to something "bla" doesn't apply to... or the fellow who is obviously so at home with "bla", will experience a sudden need to interrupt the conversation with a bathroom break, during which you can hastily consult a dictionary. 

I try to admit when I encounter a word in conversation that I don't know. No one can know every word in the English language; its just going to happen sometimes and what's wrong with admitting you don't know everything? But there are occasions, at least I have found, when you are in discourse with someone whose ego you own is rubbing up against, and the honesty policy might just slip a little...

I was mulling on this because I realised that there is a word I can only remember encountering twice in my life, at least in a situation where I was likely to learn what it meant without asking what it meant.


Some will know exactly what this means. I learnt its meaning because a lecturer in literary theory introduced it as a concept in his lecture on postmodernism way back in the early 90's, when I was studying such things. And in the same period I read Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose, which begins with a claim that the book is "A palimpsest of the novel by Umberto Eco". I would like this to be a fairly short post, so I can go and cook my dinner, so I will not try and interpret here what Eco might have been on about.

For those who don't know what it means; the literal meaning harks back to a time when manuscript pages were written on vellum or some other heavy organic medium, and it was passible to scrape an original text away and begin anew with the words of another text. Below is an example.

In more modern times there are also examples - those kids drawing toys, where a film of plastic is drawn upon with a plastic stylus, and the film adheres to the pliable inky and sticky medium below to create an image - one that can be erased by lifting a cardboard slider that seperates the film from the material below. After a while the film starts to curl with all the impressions of previous drawings. Or there is of course, just a plain old Etch A Sketch (as above), which with time starts to leave lines and dots in areas frequently drawn  upon.

The key concept for its use in the intellectual or artistic world, is that a palimpsest is something created upon a not quite perfect canvas, one begun a new with an superficially fresh space or almost tabla rasa, but one in which traces, indentations or echoes of the original work might remain - as did traces of the original manuscript when vellum was refurbished. A palimpsest is new work that sits over the faintest echoes of one that has come before. It can and has been applied to concept of experience or memory, which builds constantly on old experiences with new ones, but does not ever quite erase the original recollections.

I am not going to elucidate much further about the concept of a palimpsest, but there are entire art events or exhibitions that have been based upon the concept, and you can talk about it, and its shades of meaning and possiblity for as long as you like without quite exhausting the well of speculation - the second time it popped up, myself and several others got a good 45 minutes out of it before something happened to interrupt our collective investigation. And you can of course youself investigate further into the often palimpsest-like domain of the Internet.

But let me leave you with a thought.

A palimpsest is perhaps one of the most anceint experiences human beings might have had of a medium in which one's own life and actions were impressed upon those of others who had come before. A palimpsest was among the first experiences we had of a kind of 'written' history.

Sand and mud can both form a medium which can, with the sucessive passing of wanderers or travellers become palimpsests. Each traveller makes new footprints, but is always aware of the passage of those who have taken the same road before.

A palimpsest is, in a sense, an artwork and a form of historical experience that must be older than the dawn of art and history - even oral history - itself.

By JĂșlio Reis (User:Tintazul) (Original File) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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