Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rabbit Hole

What a day! Melbourne flounced around in a great huff, throwing out her skirts and crying, "Winter! Winter! I shall give you Winter!" The wind is not yet armed, it carries no knives, but is still more than eager to slip cold fingers beneath coats and scarves. It's what my Mum calls a 'wild and woolly' day. And so I sally forth! An excellent day for an expedition, a perfect day to be swallowed.

I'd never been to the Hopetoun Tea Rooms before. Odd, I know. I've lived here how long, walked past them how many times? There, I met Mrs Bishop and we hid from Melbourne's weather tantrum. A huge pot of loose leaf tea, a baked potato, and welsh rarebit. I didn't know what welsh rarebit was, and read it as rabbit. Mrs Bishop informed me that it was not rabbit, but something with cheese. And mustard. Which was good enough for me. It was indeed something with cheese, and mustard, and was just spectacular. I need to find a recipe similar to what they served, and then when Melbourne has finished her flouncing and plunged into Winter proper, have a slumber party, and force everyone to sit around in flannel pyjamas, and eat welsh rarebit.

The tea rooms are green, and deep, not large, but the colours are deep, and small enough to be quiet and snug.

We went halves in a Portuguese tart. Mrs Bishop assured me I wasn't the only one having trouble with my short story, which gave me some odd peace of mind. Makes me think that Gillian was onto something huge and hidden when she chose that theme.

I'd never been in the Nicholas Building before. Odd, I know. I've lived here how long, walked past it how many times? Mrs Bishop wanted to visit Collected Works, a specialist bookstore that was, alas, not open on Sundays. It got us to the first floor, though, and what a fascinating little floor. A button shop. There's more, and we explored the second floor. More buttons? The Tuxedo Cat, but actually the pigment bar, showing German comedy. A kimono store that was also not open on Sundays. Tiles on the walls. Different tiles. New tiles. Smooth wooden banister and wrought iron. An internal old-fashioned elevator. Up another floor? Why not? Things changed gradually. We found an odd well in the building, a court yard that was not a court yard, accessed by the windows, a square shaft to the sky, with internal windows looking down.

One floor had blocked windows, with what looked like books piled chaotically against the glass on three sides. No, not books. Boxes?

Each floor changed just a little. Lighter doors, different wood, different tiles, different light. The wiring was wild and free. Not all the lights worked. We found The Museum of Electrical Philosophy, which must have had a motion sensor, as it came to life as we approached and peered through the mail slot at a white white room.

We found a door, oh, a door I would love to open, but nothing behind it will exceed the expectations of my imagination.



The note card reads 'nest architects'. I assume these tiles belong to them too.



So many artist studios, workshops, concealed spaces for strange things. They marked their various territories as only creative types can.



We stood for some time outside this door, wondering what organisation or individual had claimed this space and what they used the space for, with a name like that? Not, as it turns out, the end of the world. Not directly, at any rate.

Milliner, costumer designer, carpenter, graphic designer, painter, creator creator creator.

I went to the toilet in the gents. Ladies was nowhere to be seen.

We reached the floor on which the windows blocked by boxes. We found a door with a damaged mail slot. We looked inside.

This is where shoes come to die.



Boxes emptied and throw in lazy piles up against the windows and walls, the shoes in great piles on the floor, having lost their partners and just lying there. The smell of old shoes, old shoes that have never been worn, a strange unsettling smell. Some shelves, showing an effort at display, but still a mess, a garbage dump, a shoe grave yard.



And we fled.

I must return. With my big camera and tripod. The building is a wonderful alternate dimension. I want to catch the wear and tear and dust.

I'd never been to the Ian Potter Gallery, a different sort of art in a different sort of dimension. Odd, I know. How long have I lived here, how often have I walked past it? The Kirra Galleries sucked us in and bedazzled us with glass. So much beautiful amazing glass. I did not spend all my time staring at a wooden fish, nor did I spend any time talking myself out of a $100 wooden fish, no, not at all.

I'm not sure how to engage with the art gallery. The Indigenous section gave both of us some pause, as not all pieces were listed with explanations, and given the nature of indigenous art, that it is usually so laden with story and symbol, this seemed an inexplicable oversight.

Perhaps, though, the fault is partly with my own perceptions. I come to exhibitions from a museum point of view - to learn. Art, being art, does things differently.

I was particularly taken with the Shared Sky exhibition on the second floor. There was a piece there by Albrecht Dürer, whose work I'm quite fond of, which featured a great rendering of (what I think is) Cetus the whale. Cetus featured on another star map nearby, and neither of them depicted a whale. Cetus is somewhat more awesome than a whale, and whales are pretty damn awesome.

After outwitting the public transport system, I bid Mrs Bishop adieu, and took myself out of the city, got off a station early, and had Melbourne flounce around at my back as I walked home.