I meet the Aquilizans for the first time. Anna and I walk up to the Petersham Town Hall to see how they’re getting along. The power keeps shorting out in their flat, something about too many heaters on the same circuit. They must be cold, coming all the way from the Philippines.
Noon: I decide enough is enough. It’s time to punch through the border of the ‘sham and inspect the gallery in Camperdown.
Up til now, I have been flirting with a few other ideas: leaving it until the opening, and grandly entering a completely empty gallery; sending someone else as my proxy to measure and photograph the space so I would know what to plan for, and so on. In the end, I figure all these stratagems are unnecessary. Mere stylistic gimmicks. Since my visit to Uncle Lester, the ‘sham’s been bleeding air from its south side for nearly a fortnight. It’s pointless to pretend that the border rule is as important as it once was. Anyway, my point has been made. My integrity is intact. Isn’t it?
I walk along Parramatta Road towards Stanmore. Crossing the lights at Phillip Street, I feel the same little frisson as the other two times I’ve transgressed. But the feeling is fainter now, the power of the boundaries is beginning to fade. I keep expecting someone to lean out of a bus and exclaim “Hey Lucas! What are YOU doing here?” People love catching you in the act. But it doesn’t happen.
I pass the Stanmore McDonalds, and there it is: the former border of Petersham. I’ve only ever seen it in the photo Lisa took for me (which graces the banner of this blog) and for some reason I’d assumed the pavement signage would be much larger. And there’s the creek. Poor old Johnston’s Creek, reduced to a concrete-clad semi-circular drain running between a global take away franchise and an industrial building. There’s a plaque, embedded into the cement in front of a rusty fence overlooking the creek. The plaque needs a rub with a bit of Brasso.
At the gallery, I measure up the walls. There’s enough space for all the blog entries to be blu-tacked up, one day at a time. They’ll fill the room. If nothing else, it’ll be an impressive, and graphic, display of labour. I drag some furniture into the room, couches and a table for the computer. It’s going to be a simple show.
On the way home, I stop in at the Olympia Milk Bar. I figure, if I’m outside the border anyway, I may as well have the best and cheapest milkshake in the inner-west. The lights are out, there’s a softness to this old and very weird place. I’ve given up trying to start conversations with the owner. I figure, if he doesn’t want to talk, why force it?
Nicole from eleven magazine emails me. We’d made a tentative arrangement to do an interview today, but I feel too stressed to be able to sit still and talk about the project. Cheekily, I ask if she can come over anyway and do me a favour. I need folders from Officeworks – cardboard envelope folders for my blog printouts. And I need someone to get them for me while I stand on the border and wait. Nicole agrees to help me out.
It feels a bit odd to be doing this. I mean, yesterday I left for Camperdown. So why can’t I just pop over to Officeworks in Lewisham. What difference does it make?
I can’t explain. But that’s what happens.
On her way back from Officeworks, Nicole picks me up outside the shut-down fruit store. There’s good news and bad news. The folders look great, and they’re cheaper than expected. But my credit card has fallen down into a crevice between the plastic compartments under her car stereo. Nicole rummages around. I fetch a screwdriver, tongs, a coathanger. Eventually, the card emerges. Nicole races off, and I promise her an interview, sometime soon…
At one pm, I have an appointment with someone. But for the life of me, I can’t remember who, nor anything about it…
At eight, Bec and I get Indian take away. I ask the nice fellow behind the counter for some plastic containers, the kind they put the mint sauce into. I want to use them for making small flans for the exhibition on Saturday. He gives me about thirty. I ask how much I owe him. After a moment to reflect, he replies, “Just keep coming back!”
In the evening, I phone up Louise, who coaches me through the production of a large scale word document, using the “master document” function. This is so boring it’s almost putting me to sleep thinking about it now. At three am, a “book” emerges, weighing in at 141 pages and 85,000 words… [You can download it here, PDF 1.9MB]
Bec sits on the couch sifting through hundreds of Petersham photographs to make a powerpoint presentation. She chooses a handy 200. It should be noted, Bec is a photography curator. I trust her choices implicitly.
I set up a style-sheet so that each blog entry can be neatly printed out without any fuss. These printouts will go up on the walls of the gallery.
Vanessa comes around and sets to work making mini flans. Lisa offers to help, and I send her shopping for tea, sugar, coffee, milk. We all sit in the kitchen together, gluing labels onto my folders for the exhibition. You cannot set a value on moral support of this kind.
At sunset, we sit down to watch 1001 nights on the internet. Vanessa has written today’s story. It’s about the perils of trying to cross Parramatta Road, and the nation of Malta seems to figure pretty importantly too. Barbara’s mouth rolls up and spits out the words, especially when she reaches this sentence:
grubby sticky tape wrapped around telegraph poles and bus tickets in the gutter and flattened cigarette butts.
We all hurry along. We’re due at the bowlo by six, and I’ve still got to find my Filipino guest artists…