It was a beautiful morning. It was the first official day of the school break and I was also on leave from work. The sun was up and the sky was blue. I wanted to get out of the house and explore the city.
But I think my husband and son needed a bit of convincing.
Me: Yay! It’s the first day of the holidays! Let’s go on a walk to look at some street art in the Inner West!! Woo hoo! Are you pumped?!
Husband & Son: …
H: Son, you know how we do things to make your mother happy?
S: This is one of those moments?
The “Inner West” are Sydney suburbs just west of the city. It encompasses the small inner city suburb of Chippendale and stretches as far west as Strathfield. Still close enough to the CBD, but further out enough to have their own identities. Suburbs in this area include Ashfield, Newtown and Leichhardt. I know, for many of you, these places are just names on a map. But trust me, they have their own character.
Suburbs in this city are small. Blink and you might miss one of them. Yet at peak hour, you crawl over every metre, taking forever to leave the place.
I was determined to drag my family to Newtown that day. There is only one main road into, and out of Newtown. The traffic can be terrible and street parking almost non-existent.
We took the train.
Living on the other side of the bridge, Newtown is a suburb we do not visit often. The place, like much of Sydney, is diverse. It has an interesting mix of grit and art. It has a large LGBTI community, and up the road is a theological college that has had an enormous impact on Sydney’s churches.
Newtown was once a working class suburb. Then the university students came, looking for cheap rent. There is a grungy but bohemian feel to the main strip on Kings Street. The shops are mainly small independent enterprises where you are likely to get a quirky find.
And among the graffitied walls, there are plenty of interesting murals.
We head to Newtown Station. We arrive at King Street and walk about eight minutes towards Lennox Street. I did my homework before we left home and knew there was a high concentration of street art around that area.
Blue skies and winter sunshine accompanied us. Perfect for a walk around the back streets and alley ways.
Just past Lennox Street, at the end of Church Street, is the mural below.
The story, according to Sydney Expert, is there used to be another painting on the building before it. But due to a miscommunication, that painting was painted over soon after it was completed. The artist was asked to recreate it, but instead chose to paint a mural where people are communicating with each other through a string and a tin can.
We make our way down Lennox Street and I am thrilled to find some popular images that I’ve only seen on the internet. I also smile as our son whips out his phone and starts snapping away.
“Mum, what do you think of these filters?,” he turns to me. “They make the colours look so cool!”
“Wow, I really like how you’ve framed this one, and that filter looks great!” I encourage our son enthusiastically. My husband smiles. He’s been trailing us for about an hour, patiently walking with a sore back.
Towards the end of Lennox Street, we take a left down Eliza Street to find more colour on the walls.
“Why is the woman’s heart outside her chest?” my son asks.
“It’s because it’s supposed to show it’s the place where they research the heart,” my husband replies.
The image is by The Ox King and was commissioned in 2017 to reflect the Heart Research Institute. It depicts a character weaving a red line around a realistic image of a heart. According to the artist, his inspiration was the nature of the organisation and its work. The unbroken red line may well be symbolic of “the quiet knowledge over the years leading to modern medicine and modern understanding”.
I am sure there are heaps of images we’ve missed, but by 1pm we were ready for lunch. My husband herded us to the local pie shop for a quick bite to eat and then, much to his relief, we came home.