Category Archives: Street Life

Snowmance

The storm that never was. As you may have heard: Winter Snowstorm Juno was a non-event (or non-snowstorm). Of course, the only time we got an official “snow day” to stay home from work, where the subway was closed for an historic overnight period, I happened to be out of town! Whereas most people get rather upset or concerned, me coming from a warm and temperate climate city like Sydney, I happen to find snowstorms extremely exciting!  Aptly, Snowstorm Juno was supposed to hit on Australia Day – January 26th, 2015! However – it didn’t quite eventuate – and so instead people just got overly critical of the public authorities and their (rational) excessive preparations! Seriously though, it’s crazy how living in New York in the winter makes you intensely aware of the impact that extreme weather has on your ability to go about your daily business.

This reminded me of last year’s Snowstorm Pax which took me and much of New York by surprise in early Feb 2014. It was my first experience of an extreme snowstorm – it was tough to get out of your house, let alone commute to work! In my excitement at being unable to get to work, I enthusiastically took to the streets with my camera at 7am and begun taking photos of the beautiful streets…now enshrouded in white. Purified and cleansed by the powdery clean snow.  The grey building and streets illuminated. People running through the silent streets became blurred figures of color standing out against the ice-queen whiteness.

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West 10th St and Waverly Place – the intersection with one of my favorite bookstores in the city (Three Lives) covered in a layer of powdery whiteness.

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More snow covered Christmas and pine trees than you’ll ever need!

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A heavy snowfall…enough to envelope your car!

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A gift from from the Snow Gods

It would have been fine if I hadn’t been supposed to take a flight to Australia for a wedding!! Yes – on the biggest snowstorm of the year last year, I literally ended up crying on phone to the Qantas flight representative (not something I would ever usually do…but in desperation I didn’t quite know what else to do!)…and so I was kindly passed onto a helpful customer service rep for the first time ever! The story has a happy ending – I somehow managed to escape the city via a completely rerouted flight and made the wedding (in case you were worried)! But more importantly…I also managed to take some fun photos of the snow storm; amidst a city quietened in a romantic snowfall. Enjoy these pictures of the West Village in the misty whiteness: a snowmance.

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The entry to my old apartment building romantically covered in sideways snow 

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The cast-iron gates outside my old apartment, wrapped up 

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Running for cover: pink and red masked in white. White marked by red and pink.

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Not going anywhere anytime soon – wheels buried in the snow on Waverly Place, New York City

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Quickly escape into the red brick house!

M xxx

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Portrait of a Peruvian Lady

The face is an insight into each unique life lived. The wrinkles, the expressions and above all the eyes. A window into the soul. So says the cliché. I suspect it contains a very large dose of truth.

I was reminded recently of one of my favourite sets of old portrait photos: a series of beautiful, strong Peruvian women I encountered on my travels in 2009. These photos, taken on a small point and shoot Canon camera I’d gotten for Christmas of the year before, were nothing sophisticated – but they were honest and reflected a desire to connect with a new culture I was experiencing and loving. Tucked away in my photo folders on an old external hard drive – they have traipsed around the world with me and are a nostalgic reminder of uni travels.

And so, on a cold winter’s night after perusing textures and colours at an exhibition of Latin American contemporary art at the Museum of Art & Design or “MAD” in NYC, I came home in search of my old archives! They brought back memories of how mesmerized I was by the Latin American continent when I first arrived in Peru for the first time. The colours, the smells, the chaos, the people, the food. The faces. Travelling through the countryside – the Colca Canyon region and Arequipa beyond the touristy Cuzco and hectic Lima – the clothing in particular was infused with a dash of texture, shape, pattern and colour that was representative of the strong and diverse personalities of the women that I came into contact with.

Crafts, textiles and weaving are a big part of the Peruvian culture of artisanship, skills held primarily among the women. Wandering along the streets of small towns, I was reminded of the need to provide for family and children. Many of these women keep up traditions not for just pure passion but for necessity and income – tourism and selling traditional arts remain an important source of growth for Peru. Much like in any other country, some encounters were friendly – others were distracted as the women were engrossed in their creations, or suspicious of tourists. Invariably – a little bit of Spanish helped.

These photos are a short storyboard of my travels through Peru – interacting with women on the street, in museums, on tourist tracks between canyons and trails. They speak to my own love of the textures, colours and patterns of the Peruvian culture and the interesting Peruvian women I met along the way…

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Mother and daughter – colourful hats, sharp eyes, overlooking the Colca Canyon

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Suspicious knitter

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Don’t distract me…I’m knitting

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Maria, the friendliest by far on the streets of Arequipa

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Hard work

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Shy weaver

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Hiding behind my llama

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Artisan sewing in modern colours

M xx

Perpetual Motion

I sustained a hip stress fracture injury late last year.

Diagnosis: too much motion.

Symptom: pain.

Recovery plan: s-t-o-p.

I was basically overdoing it. I was training for a marathon and I was simply running too much for what my body could handle. A bit like a repetitive strain injury. The immediate need to stop walking, stop running and generally limit the weight-bearing activity I did was rather depressing for someone who loves being active and wandering around like me. It also highlighted how hard it is to accept limitations to our mobility – I was grateful not to have a chronic mobility issue. Especially in a city like New York where the public transport system is NOT geared to the mobility-challenged. Suddenly I became incredibly aware of how much I loved walking around everywhere, how much I missed having a car, how much more I was going to be paying for cabs over the coming months – not a happy thought!

It also made me realize that the big cities we live in are hives of activity. Constantly in flux and transition. Tiring – no, exhausting! A grand tide of movement we cannot control. Overwhelming even. High density living above all creates this effect: bustling shops, packed streets, trafficked avenues, cramped subway carriages, much opportunity for human observation and interaction. Much of the power of cities – the energy they create, the vibe and reputation they develop – comes from their population density and the ability to encourage ideas to flow and interact, to integrate into new ways of thinking, innovations and creativity.

Crazily enough, at work this topic seems to have come up in one of the many chat sessions I observed, one day discussing the percentage likelihood of dying of the flu (a happy thought, right!? I believe in response to the free vaccination option during a cold winter!). This raised (somewhat randomly) the fact that New York does not even arise in the top 100 most densely populated cities – so while it is plenty dense by developed world standards, it doesn’t feel as tightly wound up as it could be! Another talk I went to with a well known architect spoke about population density as an opportunity for effective resource management: indeed, if the population density of Manhattan (sprawl up, not out) applied to the world…all 7 billion population in the world could fit into the State of Colorado – crazy! Check out this cool website for more info: whatismissing.net!

All this is to say – we live in a world of perpetual motion. Of unmitigated change. So why not allow our photos, our art, to sometimes show this? Rather than pretending that the world stops for us to capture a moment, why not embrace the blur? The imperfection, the fleeting stance, the transient moment, where the characters within our story are not still, but in the process of completing some action, some movement. The below are some of my experimental shots taken while meandering the city – some in coffee shops, some hidden behind poles near Central Park trying to carve out space from which to capture shots, some in public parks. They are all imperfect. They were all taken while I was not perfectly still – no tripod – just my shaky hands. They are an authentic touch of real life in action.

More on the need for meditation to come…and thank goodness I am mobile again!

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Green Tea Layer Cake at Lady M, UES

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Undecided – chocolate eclair or mont blanc? Lady M, UES

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Opposites Attract or Matching Moment – Black and Pink, Pink and Black? Lady M, UES

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Uncertainty – who’s doing what? Unsure where to look… Lady M, UES

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Pink shirt on generic subway platform

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Pidgeons waiting for the next carriage patron, Central Park

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The Plaza, The Pole and That Yellow Cab #1

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The Plaza, The Pole and That Yellow Cab #2

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The Plaza, The Pole and That Yellow Cab #3

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Dimlit brunch, UES

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Play me a song Mr Piano Man, Washington Square Park

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Pink jacket stands out in the Bloomingdale’s crowd

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Cycling through, Central Park South 

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Move on – crossover; 5th Avenue

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Quiet amidst the storm

M xx

And the best street art goes to…!

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. It was 1989: I was just a small tot at the time. A baby, unaware of the significance of this event in 20th century history.  I was actually most probably sitting in my Mum’s, or my Aunt’s lap, in a small town in Italy, visiting family in the beginning of wintertime and savoring some dessert or drinking some coffee too rich or strong for my young age! Nevertheless, my Mum liked to point out many years later that I had been within closer to proximity to these powerful and moving moments in history than many others, and most definitely than where I was at the time of the recounting. But then, anywhere is closer to Berlin than Australia!

It was many years later, as a 21 year old on my “gap” year traipsing around Europe with an oversized backpack that I got to actually visit the incredible city of Berlin. Filled with history. Overflowing with self-expression. Bubbling over with a liberal dose of grunge and change. It was most definitely an artistic, whimsical, fascinating city – weighed down by the history and calamities of the 21st century, but buoyed by this renewed sense of freedom, liberty, passion, and reformism.

It is well known that Berlin has some of the best art, distractions and street or urban art. Alley ways filled with graffiti, posters and artworks. Walls which become modern graffiti galleries. The East Side Gallery is maybe the most famous though, touristy but historic parts of the Berlin Wall now dedicated as a long quasi-cinematic insight into the German psyche of revolution and change. It is like one extended film negative of upheaval and emotion. It really made me experience a sense of awe at the resilience of the human spirit. Hope. Desire. Freedom. Love. They remain at the centre of the human condition in spite of repression, oppression and gloom. It sounds like a cliche, but Berlin really does inspire. It makes you appreciate and value your own freedoms.

Its street art is just a manifestation of the urban renewal that followed the human spirit’s revival in this city in the 1990s and onwards. Often on dark, grey concrete and in a cold, windy city, the street art can appear sombre and intimidating. But it can also be uplifting and political. Interesting and insightful. At the least, it makes Berlin distinctive among cityscapes with its architecture to boot (will have to cover that another time!).  Here are some of my favorite shots from my trip in 2008 (some of which may have been taken by my sister, so I also want to thank her for having been a wonderful travel companion!!), and I apologize as I did not have the best camera by any means at the time, but my angled shots remain a trademark favorite!

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Takele’s was big when I was there for the graffiti staircases!

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Portrait in pink

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Too much to ask for a kiss?!

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Berlin’s version of Pablo Picasso’s famous masterpiece of the Spanish Civil War, Guernica

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A crack in the wall. The way to freedom.

The tide of desire for human freedom that overtook Berlin and East Germany is a reminder to enjoy and appreciate freedoms in our own countries that were fought for as recently as 25 years ago in a modern, developed country.

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A short history of the wall…

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Delivery of love. Even in chains.

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Haunted

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A long time. But long enough?

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It’s intense. But it’s also a beautiful patchwork artwork of humanity. I love it.

M xx

A street-art named desire

I love street art. Some people call it graffiti. Some people call it vandalism. It all depends on perspective I suppose. I put it down to how pleasurable it is to look at, how colorful, how artistic…In general, I call it self expression. It brightens up our streets. It adds character. It subverts our expectations. New York City, among many other cities, is full of it…all you need to do is bring your camera on a meander along the back streets of the Lower East Side or NoLiTa and you will not be disappointed. I have always wondered, when do people sneakily, stealthily create these public masterpieces?

Note the hand of God creating Adam on The Bowery…

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This is me

Daughter of a New York-born father and Italian-born mother that met in a chance encounter on a train from London to Paris on New Year’s Eve, brought up in Sydney, Australia, and now having found my way to New York City…I feel I was destined for a life of travels, creative whimsy and exploration! I am now 27 years old  and having searched out the intense novelty of new experiences and the feelings of awe that come from exposure to diverse cultures and vibrant landscapes, I have added all 7 worldly continents to my life’s storyboard.

I also love art.  Art and all things artistic. Trips to galleries, concerts and museums filled my childhood, my already abundant conversation and my travel itineraries as I searched for creative inspiration, collected way too many brochures and sought out friends with whom I could share my enthusiasm (including for the occasional ‘crafternoon’). Art, like travels and travel advice, I believe are meant to be shared.

The areas around NYU, Washington Square Park and Central Park in my new hometown, New York City, are part of what has inspired a love of shared entertainment and public artistic expression in me. Grand pianos on the sidewalk, saxophone concertos in the park, bookstores overflowing with quirky titles and self-reflective memoirs. How great does it feel to be surrounded by this positive energy? It is impossible not to feel the optimism that comes from participating in the street life of this city.

And so now, I too am deciding to follow my creative passions and to share them with you, because that’s what I love to do!

Art. Photography. Travel.

Inspire. Admire. Wonder.

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Artward. Outward. Upward.

M xx