Drawing Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Nearly every day for the last thirty years I have jumped on the number 11 tram to travel down Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. I have wandered along the shops, eaten kebabs, and enjoyed cappucinos and eggs benedict in the cafes. But it took a trip overseas for me to come home and truly “see” Brunswick Street. Now I notice the shapes of the rooftops, the ghost signs, the towers and the cast iron lace. I can’t believe all this beauty has been here in front of me for so long and that I have simply taken it for granted.

No longer. I have challenged myself to a very long term project of drawing the buildings along Brunswick Street. As a librarian I also want to research the history of the area so that I can learn more about the people who lived here in times past. I want to learn more about this local community of mine, and discover how I fit in. It’s going to take a very long time – years in fact – so that in itself will be a lesson in patience and mindfulness for me. If you would like to follow along with me you can keep an eye on this blog, or follow me on Instagram.

Collection of prints showing buildings and street fronts from Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Acknowledgement of country

Before going any further, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land around Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, the Wurundjeri people, and to pay my respects to their ancestors and elders both past and present.

My drawings highlight a fairly recent urban history, only since the 1850s, and I’ll be getting my stories from passers by, vintage photos and old newspapers. The indigenous history of the area is much better described by people other than myself, and you can read more about it here –  https://aboriginalhistoryofyarra.com.au/ and https://www.wurundjeri.com.au/

Videos about my Brunswick Street sketches

Blog posts – sketching in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Artist feature at Pedestrian Space

Artist feature at Pedestrian Space

I was pretty chuffed when I was recently approached by Annika Lundkvist to become one of the Friday feature artists on her website, Pedestrian Space. Obviously I checked out the other artists and...

Sketching Brunswick Street, Fitzroy: signs of the times, cancellations, click and collect, black lives matter

Sketching Brunswick Street, Fitzroy: signs of the times, cancellations, click and collect, black lives matter

Walking down Brunswick Street from Alexandra Parade (still in my 5km limit), I tried to spot signs specific to Melbourne in 2020. Situations we could never have imagined – such as long postponed acts at the Evelyn Hotel, or closed shops with instructions on click and collect. The Black Lives Matter posters on the walls of the fire brigade credit union stayed long enough for me to capture. A few days later they were gone, showing just how important it is to record these moments in history.

Sketching Brunswick Street, Fitzroy incognito: masks, 2 hours and a 5km limit

Sketching Brunswick Street, Fitzroy incognito: masks, 2 hours and a 5km limit

As lockdown 2 started to settle, and we were allowed out of our homes, I headed back to the top end of Brunswick Street. I wanted to illustrate the impact of the pandemic on the local community. I sat under a verandah at the corner of Westgarth Street and drew locals chatting on a mosaic chair wearing masks. Some things don’t change though. The building housed a butcher’s shop back in 1925 and it still does today.

Instagram – #helendrawsbrunswickstreet

Brunswick Street prints

2 Comments

  1. Dennis Toth

    I like your sketches

    Reply

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