Public Art and Pocket Parks — Hobart

I am writing this Thursday afternoon.   Wednesday we were hove to off the island of Tasmania, nose into the wind, blowing up to 90 knots, surrounded by green water, 9 meter (29 foot) seas and making no process.  We made it up the coast of Tasmania before the storm caught us.  The Captain adjusted ballast and waited for the winds to abate and for lower seas  before attempting to turn from the Tasman Sea into Bass Strait.  That happened at about 5 this morning.  Captain made the turn, we coasted along North Tasmania and crossed the Bass Strait.  At Noon Thursday we are off the south coast of Australia just west of Melbourne.  The outdoor deck areas and the pools are still closed off, the winds have slacked to between 30 and 40 knots but the Captain announced that we would be encountering increasing swells again. I can feel them now.   He hopes we can make our next port, Kangaroo Island, about 4 hours late.  Here is a link to the Captain’s Blog. 

Hobart has a lot of public art.  Some of it is in little pocket parks placed in alleyways or the space behind shops in the downtown.  Some of it is along the coast and some of it is in the bigger squares.  It ranges from monumental to whimsical.

Hobart likes to honor its polar explorers.   “Louis and Joe” is an ensemble of several sculptures, penguins, seals, people, skis, a camera and crates.  It’s a tribute to Louis Bernacchi, the first Australian to winter over in Antarctica. He was Scientist, Photographer and Writer.  He sailed on “The Southern Cross” with the Borchgrevink Antarctic Expedition in 1898.  The ship left from where the monument stands.  He was on Scott’s 1901-1904 expedition as chief scientist.  He took his favorite Husky “Joe” on both trips.  Fortunately he was not on Scott’s last expedition.

Sir John Franklin is honored in Franklin Square.  Before he became “Lord Franklin” of Northwest Passage fame he was, from what I gather, a not exactly beloved governor of Tasmania.  A number of the “establishment” figures worked against his purposes.  However once he died looking for the passage he became a Tasmanian hero.   The inscription reads:

“Not here, The white north has thy bones,

and thou heroic sailor soul,

Art passing on thine happier voyage now,

Toward no-Earthly pole.”

I sang a Stan Rogers song in tribute.

Abel Tasman has a suite of sculptures in front of Parliament that includes a platypus, his statue and some ships looking like they are trying to avoid sailing off the edge of the world.  The monument flies both the Australian and Dutch flags.

Some of the more whimsical statues involve pets.  There is the “Hey Diddle Diddle, The Cat and the Fiddle” arcade, but to me it looks like “Hey Mellow Fellow, the Cat and the Cello.”  Outside one of the shops “Thompson waits Lazily.”  A block away some cocks frolic on a rooftop.

In a “pocket park” some dogs sit while super graphics from the walls look down on us.  There’s a picnic table and benches for us to relax.

.Here are some other pieces.  One is in the cove created for the handicap access ramp at the entrance to a bank.  It has seals and penguins, one is a stabile in Salamanca Square and the third, well I have no idea.  It’s a band across a sidewalk.

“Journeys to the Southland” in Salamanca Square.  It is a fountain honoring the 1804 arrival of a fleet of ships led by the “Lady Nelson.”  It they arrived on Hunter’s Island (now part of the port) with settlers and cargo.

“Footsteps towards Freedom” is actually located on Hunter’s Island and looks at things from a different point of view.  These bronze statues honor the 13,000 Irish women and 2,000 children transported to Van Diemen’s Land between 1803 and 1853.  The statues show 3 forlorn looking women, one with a baby, and one child as they may have looked stepping onto this strange land.  On the pedestal of each statue are listed some of the names of those sentenced to transportation and their crimes, they ranged from stealing a handkerchief to setting a building on fire in order to be transported to a new life.  Many of the crimes were stealing food to feed the kids who were transported with them.

Euan Hills, proprietor of the Art Mob Aboriginal Fine Art Ship can see these statues from the window of his shop.  He has proposed raising funds for three statues to face these of the Irish.  He wants an Aboriginal man, woman and child, staring at the new arrivals.  He says that would help complete the story.  He has not been met with enthusiasm.  I hope he does it.

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