A room with a view

There was never any debate about the wall on which the mirror should be hung. What took time was the careful calibration to capture the precise reflected image. I am privileged to live within a postcard of one of the world`s most beautiful cities – in fact, in its very Samba-pulsing heart. Rio de Janeiro is a city rich in iconoclastic images; so much so, that this month UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site. It is also a very big city. As such, it has very big city injustices which are unworthy of its splendid frame of sheer granite peaks, fifty kilometres of white, sugary-sand, city beaches and the largest urban forest on the planet. The calibrations of these injustices will take much more time than the placement of my mirror.

The view from this mirror however,  greets me with an unapologetic smile as I exit my bedroom first thing every morning. It is a portrait of close and distant mountain ranges, tropically-dressed islands and a dappled sea. It is a panorama unchanged from my childhood except that the vegetation is even more luxuriant now. Indeed, within this carefully selected slice of my birth city (home to 12 million people), everything remains as untouched as it was when the first Portuguese discovers sailed into the Bay 447 years ago.

The only thing that does change within this view is the mood; defined, as it is, by light, cloud and season. It is always provocative, always seductive but always with this capacity to surprise which causes me to gasp a dozen or more times throughout the day.  Its greatest beauty however, is that it is a beauty well-shared. No single social class has ownership of it. The recent portentous but largely failed UN Summit on the Environment in Rio did at least provoke debate on the fringe. I attended a stimulating presentation by the reforming former Mayor of Bogota City who made the expansion of public space his political signature. His city’s projects on the democratisation of the urban environment are inspirational. After all, the value of a view should not be measured by how few people have been able to enjoy it, but by how many.

Alexandre Kalache,  Adelaide Thinker-in-Residence, 2012.


Back Lanes by Mike Ladd

Place, to me, is not only about geography or a history of usage, but about feelings had in a particular location, feelings that can be re-drawn from the trees, the stones, the buildings.

Very many of my poems are placed here in Adelaide, either directly by naming physical features, or, more hopefully, by rendering the feel of the place. Outer and inner suburbs are my favourite territory, especially our galvanised iron laneways, as in this poem , Back Lanes


Applique of weathered tin and light-soaked stone,

overflow of fig, sultana vine and nectarine,

covert of the shadow bird, the flitting

darting passerines. Dark, delicious, deep

as in summer the last three fingers of shiraz –

the stories at the back of things,

the unknown “if”, the winding “as.”


Mike Ladd



What is Place?

When asked what is Art? I often cheekily answer that for me Art is a verb – It is an action word and I am compelled to do it. With this in mind I have found it interesting to ponder Place the verb as well as Place the location. For it is often in the act of placing things (either physically or in thought) that we locate a place within our own ongoing story. And so meaningful places are often not stagnant they constantly change as both humans and nature place and replace things within them.

Lisa Philip-Harbutt,
Director, Community Arts Network SA


Thoughts on place from Ianto

I see place, at least in as much as it relates to towns and cities, as something that people do, rather than something purely physical. A bunch of empty buildings or a street might be a place in a fairly literal sense, but it isn’t a ‘place’ unless there’s people in it, doing something. To that extent, ‘place’ is a verb and what we’re talking about when we talk about a place being ‘healthy’ or, to use the cliched term, ‘vibrant’, is a description more of people than physical space. So, if my logic makes any sense, if you want a ‘vibrant’ sense of place, you sort of need people to have a sense of agency over it, so they feel like they can do something. Otherwise, they’re just passing through a bunch of buildings and streets, not really making a sense of place.

Ianto Ware

Writer in Residence for an art project based out of the Potts Point Country Women’s Association. http://browncouncil.com/massaction/…..and former CEO of Renew Adelaide.


Guest contributor – Annalise Rees

Annalise Rees is a local visual artist and our first guest contributor – offering her perspective on place.

My work explores notions of place and identity related to everyday lived experience. Gaston Bachelard wrote “thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived,” my work ponders this, drawing from my experience of the world around me while also projecting into the world of what potentially might be.

I am interested in how drawing can physically occupy and define the spaces we inhabit. I consider drawing in both two and three dimensional terms, as something which can occupy space and generate place, as well as being representational of it. I think of place as being somewhere we travel to as well as something we carry with us from one geographical location to another and perhaps also something of ourselves we leave behind.

Making work that explores the symbiotic relationship between place and identity allows me to be my very own master of the universe Bachelard speaks of and provides an opportunity to investigate the nature of human activity and interactivity in our environment. Ultimately for me, Place is about people and human connection. I am excited by the potential for art and architecture to work together presenting possibilities for the creation of real spaces that engage and generate a sense of place and ultimately belonging.

Annalise’s work can be found on the streets of Adelaide throughout the PLACE 2012 season. For more information please stay posted at: