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Photographer's Note

One Sunday in January, while walking the dogs in Errol Street - the main street of North Melbourne where I live - I found not only was the evening sun casting a lovely light but, for once, there were no cars parked in front of my favourite building - the red one on the left - so I rushed home 300 metres to get my camera before the shadows crept too far up the walls. I took several shots with the CPL filter as various people walked past and the shadows grew longer, but thought this crop was probably the best of them.

I call it my favourite building because it has been for years the home of pigeons, which fly in and out and often roost, making song, on the ledges of the always-open windows. Of course, as luck would have it, they were not around at that time. The windows of the downstairs shop are now 'fair game' for bill posters, who come around, stealthily, once a week in the middle of the night to paste up the latest concert ads. Absolutely nothing has changed for the last 7 years, perhaps longer. The pigeons roost, the bill posters come, and sometimes for no obvious reason one of the doors stands open for a while. At the back of the building, which is accessible by a tiny lane, some kind of bitter diatribe has been written by a person who, I presume, was the last tenant, or maybe a squatter, of the residence; he or she must have been evicted and perhaps the building was condemned like many others in North Melbourne. I wish I had photographed this eccentric 'manifesto' for a WS.

The area of North Melbourne is one of the oldest inner urban areas around the city centre, its first buildings having been erected in the first few years of Melbourne's existence, in the 1840s, when the area was still called Hotham. Architecturally, it is a peculiar mixture of some grand Victorian buildings (from the 1880s and 1890s) like the bank building on the right side of the photo, factories and workshops, and workers' cottages. The population has for a long time been very cosmopolitan, and one of the reasons why 'gentrification' has not occurred as fast as in other older inner parts is that many working-class and migrant families retained ownership of their properties in the face of increasing offers by developers, who are busily converting factories and warehouses into apartment blocks and townhouses, often behind the original facades. Today, the area is populated largely by students and teachers of the nearby Melbourne University, but there are still plenty of old Italian migrants, and the largest concentration of public housing tenants in Greater Melbourne.

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Additional Photos by Andrew McRae (macondo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2978 W: 101 N: 5253] (20449)
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