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.
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
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...
After many postponements due to Covid lockdowns, the opening of my exhibition at the Black Cat, 252 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, is ON for 4pm on Sunday 4 July 2021. Hooray!! I can feel that glass of...
"Did you see the man feeding the pigeons on the roof?" asked a passer by as I sat sketching in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. I looked up from my drawing and sure enough, there they were in the distance...
I was caring for my dad when I first started drawing Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. It was late 2018. Dad lived in Bourke Street, right near Parliament House, and our family was taking turns supporting...
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.
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
Australian artist, urban sketcher, librarian with a long term project to draw all of Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Prints available through my website.