Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bring Back the Danger!

This blogging is quite hard work I realize - hence the delay between my last musings and this one. After reeling off the first three I came to a grinding halt. However encouragement from fellow bloggers (thank you) has got me back in the saddle. Hopefully soon I shall find my rhythm once I work out exactly how my blogging time can be fitted in with the other demands of every day life. So please bare with me.

Grafitti in Hosier Lane and Centre Place, Melbourne City

I'm afraid I'm going to straddle my high horse again - this time to bemoan the lack of adventure in Public Parks - and by this I mean both for grown-ups and children. This age of safety is driving me crazy - I wish for the return of danger and the demise of litigation.

Life as a kid used to be fun and as a subset of that just a little dangerous - we rode bikes without helmets, swung from rope swings into rivers, jumped off rocks, climbed trees, built forts and generally risked life and limb without a thought or a care and generally came out unscathed (or only minimally so). The play equipment at the public parks was often quite thrillingly dangerous. Now, we complain our kids are obese and frankly it's no wonder all the fun has been taken from these things - unless you're lucky enough to live in the country your chances for wild abandon are severely limited or involve going to theme parks and spending vast amounts of money.

Laneway life

My son's life is so much more restricted than mine as a child and it took a wild storm for me to realize how much this is so. About a month ago the wind blew wildly here in Melbourne, the power went out, trees lost their limbs, roofs came off - you know the story. About two days later we went to the park for a birthday party and to my son's great joy the branches off all the trees lay littered around. Never mind the party he spent the entire time constructing a cubby house from fallen branches. He was engrossed, enthused and blissfully happy.

Recently I made a foray into outdoor furniture design for some of the same reasons I find what’s out there predictable, unadventurous and well I suppose on the whole boring. This particular piece was designed a domestic piece but following its creation my mind went off on a flight of fancy imagining the things that could be done in the area of public outdoor furniture…..

Melbourne as you may or may not know is a bit of a hub for street art and in particular graffiti. There are certain areas in the city designated as places where it can be legally placed. My confession is that I love graffiti – I find it exciting, vibrant and it transforms these laneways in the city from dull, dark and slightly dodgy places to glorious outdoor art galleries.

More Grafitti Hosier Lane

My love for graffiti is equal in weight to my hate of skate parks – often marginalized at the outer edges of public spaces they seem rather harsh places that you wouldn’t particularly want your kids hanging out at (of course that might account for the counter-culture thing that’s grown around it).

Don’t get me wrong I love skateboarding I think it is a great activity I just think you might get more kids participating if the skateparks were a little more welcoming in more appealing locations.

The Local Skatepark

Skateboarding is also a great spectator sport – and is deserving of being in places that more people would stop and watch. If I had my way I’d put a version of a skatepark right between the Melbourne Museum and the World Heritage protected Exhibition building. And no it would not be a skatepark as we know them dour, grey, unimaginative slopes. The opportunity for creating something rippling and beautiful exists - nothing too large but thoughtfully considered - and constructed. My sketches are far too inadequate as yet to publicly present. But the opportunity to combine the beautiful movement of skating, slopes and the art of graffiti exists as does the opportunity to revel in bringing youth, movement, life and vibrancy back to the city.

The space between Melbourne Museum (right) and The Exhibition Buildings (left)

I hope you’ll forgive me my radical ideas but I love public spaces and feel often that so much more could be done with them to make them more appealing to all of the public. If you have any opinions I’d love to hear about them. I could rave on about this all day there’s sculpture, better seating, better planting, and the list goes on .....


The Intercontinental Gardener said...

After living in Sweden (the land of Volvo drivers & helmets)Australia feels like miles ahead considering the playgrounds and parks! There are many really good ones, compared to Europe!
Even if I agree with you about the adventure vs. safety part of it. In my opinion the problem in Australia seems mostly be the food - too much, wrong sort. I can never forget my experiences at the Burnley College (Melbourne Uni) or at Swinbourne Uni (? - the Art school there), the caf├ęs were full of everything uneatable, despite all the beautiful food available otherwise in Melbourne.

But still, yes, our kids a facing a very bland and safe future: - what can we do about it? Please keep up on you high horses!

Ross said...

Hey Tina,
Great blog - found you on Blotanical...
I couldn't agree with you more about the importance of danger in gardens. I think gardens can be an allegory for life - a little bit of "danger" teaches us about life as well as adding a bit of excitement.

I clicked on your link to Anthony Paul landscapes - wow...