wilson lane

When I turn into Wilson Lane from the corner of Golden Grove Street, I never know to what my eye will be drawn.

Sometimes, it is the shapes, colours and textures of the buildings and walls that line the laneway:


Or it might be the random words and images that people add to the landscape:


I always photograph the refuse. A lot of rubbish gets left in Wilson Lane and some of it arranges itself into compositions that make me think of other artists. Russian formalist Malevich made lines and circles like this.


Wilson Lane runs parallel to the south end of Wilson Street. Walking from where I live, it starts at Golden Grove and finishes at Shepherd Lane. I use it as an alternative to Wilson Street, but not because I don’t like the bigger road. Wilson Street is leafier and you can see all sorts of railroad detritus because it runs alongside the Eveleigh train yards.


Since the rebuilding of the carriage-works and the re-zoning of the precinct, Wilson Street has lost some of its character. The local council regularly scrubs the graf and the bill posters from the brick and corrugated iron that edge its eastern side, and which used to act as a de facto community notice board. Skipping Girl, the iconic Wilson Street image, gets defaced from time to time by jealous vandals. She is scribbled over and has paint thrown at her, but some street artist usually takes pity on her, and overnight, she will return in a fresh incarnation.

I wander along Wilson Lane several times a week. When I first met Nick, it was the path to Edward Street where he lived. I took this photo at that time:


I pointed out this patch of paint to Nick as we walked between his house and mine. It was immediately on the right as we entered the lane at my end. It reminded me of a speech bubble in a comic. I like the possibilities of a speech bubble with no speech. Its blankness is a space that could be left wide open, or could be filled – whichever you chose. I took a series of photos of Newtown walls for Nick as a souvenir of the city he was leaving. I called this one Nicolas dit, ‘Nicholas says’, and it became a visual joke about his immanent move to Paris and his next-to-non-existent French.

I took this photo of Wilson Lane with Nick’s departure in mind.


It reminded me of Paris – the rubbish, the smoking, the refuse left in the street after the produce market has moved on. So, its title is French Kiss.

[Of course, everyone knows that real Parisian cigarette butts look like this.

In the Latin Quarter:

Latin Quarter

At the Palais de Tokyo:

Palais de Tokyo

And at the Arc de Sebastopol:

Arc de Sebastopol

And this is what it really looks like after the market has packed up for the day



The lane is transformed daily. The empty speech bubble has been covered over in the year since I photographed it. It looks like this now:


In the past week, this map of utopia has been scraped off the wall near the back of the Buon Ricordo restaurant, along with the accompanying stick ups that made an ad-hoc open-air gallery .


The pumpkin vine growing incontinently over the fence has shrivelled and turned brown.


The shapes of the rubbish form, disappear, re-appear, re-form.


This is what I found today.