(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Park Views

Sunday, November 21, 2004

For a few months now every Sunday morning has entailed a long walk through King's Park which is the main, central botanical space in Perth, overlooking Perth city and the Swan River. Since my regular walking companion couldn't join me today - but has kindly left me to housesit her apartment which is on the fringes of the park - in a predictably cyborgian act I replaced Kate's conversation with that of a rather less talkative digital camera. I've posted to Flickr what amounts to a rather amateur photo essay (here). I was struck, on a wee bit of reflection, as to how amazingly uneven the park experience truly is: beautiful on one hand; so terribly colonial on the other. And, yes, I realise that King's Park is 100% a product of colonial times and in many ways is a piece of Westralian history unto itself, but some things jump out too over-representative, too colonial and, even if they can't be changed, lacking in the sort of framing plaques which would, one hopes, distance today's WA from a rather disturbing and bloody colonial past.

Of course, Australiana in itself can be quite beautiful. The first image above of a few gum trees is from the back of the park; elegant in their simplicity. The image to the left is two grasstrees who have decided to intertwine without encouragement from human hands. They seem to be getting along; perhaps learning lessons from 'nature' isn't such a bad idea after all!

When looking down toward Crawley and across the Swan River, blue skies and a blue river look great. For those with a keen eye, you might even notice the hint of pirates presiding over the river (you'll have to click on the image to find out more!).

While the statue of a mother holding her child is a lovely testament to the importance of motherhood, does the statue really need to be surrounded by half a dozen fountains which project larger and larger streams until they 'spurt' geysers of water? The imagery of the feminine (and almost sacred feminine, at that) imprisoned within the phallic domain is pretty hard to avoid.

The most telling image, of course, is the statue of Queen Victoria (who was, as the plaque reminds us, Queen and Empress). The cannons on either side, while presumably presenting the defensive strength atop King's Park, points more powerfully today to the history of imperial force, wielded in the Queen's name, which made sure the park was a royal land, not an acknowledged indigenous one.

Just in case the irony of the title was missed, think about it: King's Park is the view, and the origin of most other views, which represent the best of Perth to the wider world. Are those Park Views showing a WA which has situated its colonial heritage within the appropriate framework, or do we show a state which has yet to fully acknowledge the many inequities our current lifestyles are built upon?

However, I don't want to end on that negative a note. I do still love the park, and find walking through those greens, greys and rustling shrubs gives me a mental space which I would otherwise miss. My favourite statue, one which represents the WA I'm proud to be part of, is that of Dr Arnold Cook, who not only managed to maintain a Senior Lectureship at UWA despite being completely blind by 18, but who "also pioneered the Guidedog Movement in Australia."


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