The beautiful sound of a saxophone came out of the Fremantle historic Whalers Tunnel this morning and what soul touching and melancholic music it is.
I wonder if the saxophonist is the same man who sometimes plays in the Fremantle Port underpass at Peter Hughes Drive.
It is often difficult to write critical articles on my blog because Fremantle is a small community and more like a family to me and a place where I have a lot of friends.
While I don’t mind to stir the pot a bit now and then I don’t enjoy negativity, but sometimes there is no other way and what is happening at the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is such a case.
The thought bubble of making one of our state’s most significant historic precincts into an arts precinct to activate it was flawed from the start and the officers somehow have to implement what is not practical and never was a good idea in the first place.
Small art businesses have failed at Captain’s Lane while the very professional Glen Cowans photography gallery bravely soldiers on offering outstanding photo art. The Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre has also failed and the art that has been on offer in the other cottages was mediocre, to say it kindly.
Now the next thought bubble has arrived and the No 10 cottage at Captain’s Lane will be included in the City’s Studios Program as low-cost non-commercial work spaces.
The artists will not be required to open their doors to the public and only need to have an open door event every six months.
This will do absolutely nothing to help activate the area and is worse than it was when the Fremantle Pilots, Fremantle Society and Crookes family occupied the three cottages.
The Society held community events on the lawn and inside the cottage, the pilots were there 24/7 and so were the lovely family where the kids brought friends from Lance Holt School, and engaged with visitors to Arthur’s Head.
What the City of Fremantle has created is a night-time ghost town that has attracted homeless people who defecate in the backyards, and during the day and weekends it is often only the Glen Cowans Gallery that is open to the public.
In the meantime the Roundhouse that receives 130,000 visitors a year is struggling to get support from the City and we have now been waiting for well over a year to get power into the Roundhouse so we can start applying for funds for stunning new interactive displays. We are activating the historic area, but no one at Fremantle Council gives a rat’s arse about that, because it is more important to continue with the flawed art precinct concept.
Down at J Shed the artists have been denied access to the No 1 studio to use it as exhibition space during the Sculpture@Bathers show , but I hear the City will announce today who is moving in till July, when Sunset Events is supposed to start some kind of business there.
And let me make this very clear! I do not blame the officers who really try very hard, but it is the ineptness and piecemeal governance of the area by Fremantle Council that really pisses me off!
Bureaucracy-like car salesmen, lawyers, politicians, Dutchmen, journalists, and Roel Loopers, to name just a few-has a bad reputation.
I know one should never generalise so let me declare that I have often dealt with excellent public servants at the City of Fremantle and all levels of government.
Why am I writing this? Because I thought there must be some reason and order within City of Fremantle madness I do not understand. It’s probably not the fault of an officer but of the system and lack of rules.
Yesterday the two new fire extinguishers in the Roundhouse were tested and the contractor told me the only other devise he needed to test at Arthur Head for CoF was the one in the Gunners Cottage, which is the office of the Roundhouse volunteers.
This means that none of the artist’s studios at Captain’s and Mrs Trivett lanes have fire extinguishers installed although some of them have highly flammable goods in them. I don’t know a painter who would not have turpentine in their studio.
It seems illogical to me that the Roundhouse, that is highly unlikely to ever catch fire, needs to have two fire extinguishers, but highly flammable artist’s studios in tiny residential cottages that are also open to the public don’t have any.
If a fire broke out in one of the cottages it could very easily and rapidly spread to the others along the lane and all that heritage would be gone.
One of the things I very much enjoy is showing people around Fremantle and a few of the hidden treasures they might not otherwise discover, so today I spent two hours with the lovely Italian Elisabetta and Matilda.
Matilda lives in Freo and runs the cute fashion boutique and Birkenstock outlet Creato a Mano at Marine Parade and her husband Roberto runs the equally cute Galleria D’Arte West End just a few metres awy, so go and check them out!
Elisabetta though lives in beautiful Rome, so hence the need for a guided tour.
The Roundhouse and Arthur Head had to be the starting point and soon we walked into Bruce from Replants who is setting up a tree installation on Bathers Beach for the Sculpture@Bathers show which starts on the 24th of this month.
The former long jetty and ocean pool and the mortuary and kerosine store were clearly a must and gave me the opportunity to talk about the horrendous Rottnest Island indigenous Quod prison.
From there we wandered into Notre Dame University territory. We had a few sneak peeks inside some of the gorgeous adaptive reuse heritage buildings, the beautiful library and also the stunning Aboriginal art collection of UNDA. I recommend anyone to take a guided tour of the campus on Friday morning which UNDA organises. Contact them to book it!
The flat where FBI boss J Edgar Hoover lived, which is now part of Kerry Hill architects in Mouat Street, is also largely unknown. Kerry Hill by the way designed the new City of Fremantle Civic Centre at Kings Square.
I showed my guests the PS Art Space and studios upstairs, the former Police Station at Victoria Quay and the historic artworks inside B Shed, even the toilets, and wandered around the Maritime Museum under the watchful eyes of a lone Nankeen heron.
The old submarine, the connection to Gallipoli and the migrant wall were a talking point for us that connected Freo to Europe.
From there past the J Shed art studios and back through the Whalers Tunnel for a nice iced coffee at my friends at Chalkys in the former Trams Building.
What is there not to love about Freo. So happy I live here!
This has been the strangest summer in Fremantle I have experienced. Wet, cold and only a couple of days near 40 degrees so far.
More heavy rain last night woke me up and there is more to come. The Manning Park Market this morning has been cancelled and it does not look too good for outdoor concerts and markets over the weekend, so make sure to check out if they are going ahead before you leave home.
The most disappointing thing for me is that most of all that beautiful rain in a city environment is wasted and runs down into the ocean because of the lack of rainwater catchment. I so wished the government would make it compulsory to install rainwater tanks at every new building because it would help the depletion of our dams.
I took this photo at 5 pm in High Street near the Roundhouse yesterday. Rain on the car windscreen created the mood.
While the City of Fremantle has been contemplating how to activate historic Arthur’s Head, long time occupants are already doing it well and appropriately.
Yesterday we had a huge crowd at the Roundhouse for the Nyoongar smoking ceremony and for the last weeks we had sell-out performances inside the Roundhouse in the evenings for the Out of the Cave Fringe Festival show. See the photo above I took last night at 7.45 pm.
Great also that Glen Cowans opened his underwater photography gallery next to the Roundhouse early at 9 am yesterday during the smoking ceremony!
Down the road at J Shed the number 2, 3 and 4 galleries with Greg James, Janet Nixon, Jina Lee, Lesley Barret, Jenny Dawson, Peter Zuvela, Ross Potter and Ellen McCarthy are all involved in activation. Sculptures are on the reserve, exhibitions are organised, there are programs for school children during the holidays and a real engagement with the community.
Interesting that one Freo Councillor said to me yesterday that when the Roundhouse puts new displays up we need to acknowledge the Nyoongar people, and that is already planned. But we are waiting for the City to put power into the Roundhouse so we can start applying for grants and it would also be a very good idea for the City to allocate a substantial amount of money for that to support the volunteer organisation. We are looking after over 130,000 visitors a year, seven days a week and only close on Good Friday and Christmas Day, so we are a significant tourist destination.
At the smoking ceremony four of the elderly Roundhouse guides came in very early to support the event. Pretty bloody good I reckon, and two of them were on duty every night for the theatre performance!
A SLIDE SHOW OF THE NYOONGAR SMOKING CEREMONY AT THE FREMANTLE ROUNDHOUSE THIS MORNING.
The W.A. Nyoongar First Nation people held a major cleansing smoking ceremony at the Fremantle Roundhouse and Bathers Beach this Saturday morning.
The very moving event attracted around 1,300 people to Arthur’s Head and made me quite emotional.
This was an event about Nyoongars and Wadjelas moving forward together and left me with real hope for the future.
This was not anti Australia Day but pro Australia. It was not about victims and perpetrators but about real reconciliation with mutual respect and about considering an alternative day to celebrate Australia.
One Day in Freo continues at the Esplanade today from 2 pm and from 4 pm with a concert with Mama Kin, John Butler and Dan Sultan.
Join in and spread the love!
Non commercial organisations are free to use these photos. Just drop and drag. Credit: Roel Loopers.
P.S. Unfortunately I won’t be able to take photos of the Esplanade event as I will be on guide duty at the Roundhouse for the Fringe Festival show there this evening.
This is the boring bland building proposal for the corner of High and Cliff streets in Fremantle’s historic West End that Notre Dame University believes is good enough and acceptable for the heritage listed area. It isn’t by a long stretch.
I am a big fan and supporter of Notre Dame, but this is just not on!
Please do write your submissions to the City of Fremantle and the WA Joint Development Assessment Panel before February 13 as we cannot allow the destruction of Freo’s historic West End through uninspiring architecture that shows no respect whatsoever for the historic significance of the area. This building needs to be stopped at all cost!
Go to Community Engagement on the CoF website (top left) and submit your objection to this boring building.
Fremantle’s West End is buzzing with rumours that Sunset Events will propose a scaled-down version of the rejected tavern and outdoor music venue at J Shed on Bathers Beach. The music events organiser has a 25-year-lease for the number one studio there.
The proposal for the venue was rejected by the City of Fremantle, the WA Planning Commission and the State Administrative Tribunal, so only heaven knows why the SE directors are still trying for the same, but a bit smaller.
From my memory SAT and the WAPC rejected the proposal because a tavern and live music venue were deemed inappropriate for the A Class Reserve in one of our state’s most historic areas. The number of patrons was not the issue for the two state bodies, but a licensed pub and music venue was.
I have no doubt that should Sunset Events put a scaled-down proposal forward it will again be opposed by Fremantle community groups and end up again at WAPC and SAT. Common sense tells me that these bodies will not change their ruling just because Sunset Events is reducing the number of patrons.
A small bar/cafe and art gallery would be nice there, but anything bigger is not on.