posted February 22 2005

Today, two of my neighbours are talking about the progress of their renovations. L says she has more rubbish to get rid of and that another skip has just been delivered. Then she adds “I bet somebody dumps a mattress before it gets taken away”. K looks at her amazed and says “that always happens to us too”.

I just stand there thinking about mattresses and how often I see them dumped on the street. I make art from found objects and often wonder if I can make something use them for something. I always decide to stick to my 5cm size limit. If you collect junk, storage can become a big problem.

Then I think about the histories they hold. The excitement of moving into a new place. The sadness of moving on, or excitement for that matter. How much shagging went on. Lots, none, rejections, broken hearts, illness – the possibilities are endless.

posted February 23 2005

I have always assumed that mattresses found on the streets of St Kilda would have had multiple owners, or the very least multiple users until I see these ones. The big one especially is in mint condition.

While I am taking the photo I meet C, she has just dropped her daughter off at school.
C says “I’ve just done a great big clean up and put a whole pile of stuff on street”.
Then she says “I’m really enjoying watching it disappear bit by bit, nothing like a bit of recycling”.

P and I go back later to get the pristine mattress, but somebody else had the same idea earlier …it’s gone already and the small mattress has moved down the street.

posted February 24 2005

It seems like the single mattress has gone……. but it has moved again, this time it’s in the laneway. J starts thinking about D. He used to be homeless. He used to sleep out sometimes. J wonders if he ever went looking for a street bed to add a bit of comfort.

posted February 25 2005

Overnight somebody has added some art and 2 more mattresses have appeared across the road. This impulse for comfort reminded J of a story somebody told her during the margins, memories and markers project.

Wall-less Bedroom
I was running around the back streets of Theatreworks, looking for some evidence of the bag that was just stolen from my car. Down St Leonards Ave, took a cut-through to Neptune St through an empty block. And there, sleeping on a bed was a guy, with a bookshelf, clothes hanging in the tree, a supermarket trolley of things, and a few things scattered around. Just like any normal bedroom, but without the walls. Fascinating. That really diverted me from worrying about the $400 cash I just gave to someone who was good at picking locks. When I went back sometime later, the sleeping man and wall-less bedroom was gone, and someone had put up a temporary fence and a land-for-sale sign. Oh well.

posted February 26 2005

J was talking to a friend the other day about mattresses and other thing that are left on the streets. S tells her a story about a friend who, after reading a good book, would always leave it in a public place. Lots of people do it all over the world so that books can be shared. This woman had left her copy of the ‘Life of Pi’ in a coffee shop in London. Six months later within a day of arriving in Bombay she sees a copy of the the same book in a cafe, she picks it up and flicks through …..there are her comments written in the margins.

posted February 28 2005

J is taking a photo of these chairs, she loves the blue. Would anybody take them and reuse them? From this position they look like they are humping, rather fitting really. T with the fabulous bosom who works at the corner of Carlisle and Mitchell St used live there for a long time with her horrible dealer boy friend. Sometimes she’d stand at exactly that spot and tout.

A voice says “it looks better now it’s painted”. J looks up and realises that the flats have a new coat of paint.
She can’t help herself and says “it looked pretty good before”.
“Yeah but now my Mum might come and visit me, she didn’t like me living in a slum.”
J thought about her own mother’s response when she moved to Fitzroy in the early 80s.
She nearly said “mothers never change do they?”

posted March 1 2005

This baby change table has been on the corner of the street for a week. J started thinking about who put it there and why. Was it dumped or did somebody think they were passing it on. As she focused her camera she focused on the tear. How did that happen?

At that moment Lyle (artist and local mechanic) came up and said,
“I’m surprised nobody has taken that, you could use it for all sorts of things, like take the plastic off and turn it into artist shelves”.

J was still wondering about the baby who had its little pink pooey bum wiped clean many times a day.

Then he said “I guess people are a bit more fussy about 2nd hand baby things these days”

posted March 2 2005

More mattresses… about eight of them out the front of an old mansion, there are 2 men cleaning up. J asks if she can take a picture but starts firing off questions instead. Has this place been sold? The younger man says it used to be a boarding house. Did your family own it?

“Yes. Vlad is my uncle he lived here and was the Manager”.
says “finished, liquidated, no more.”

How many people lived there? “Twelve” comes the answer.

Have they all found new places?
“Yes, but there are two that haven’t moved on yet…”

J is getting pushier by the minute. Did you live there as a kid? “No” comes the reply.

Where are you going to live Vlad?
He says “liquidated, finished, no more”

They tell J she can take anything she wants. She is invited into the backyard. The only thing she takes is a photo. On the way out she takes a peep into the grand hallway as she passes, it’s gorgeous. J wonders how many people will live there in the building’s next incarnation.

posted March 3 2005

Taking L to school again, there are more mattresses in the street, these ones are wrecked. They are old St Kilda. Itinerant community, lots of short term rentals, people moving on but leaving a piece of their intimate history behind.

J thinks of all the times she’s seen some poor bugger camped out on a mouldy old piece of discarded bed in the park. Maybe that same mattress had been a site of love and comfort for a small child. Maybe in another life this poor bugger also had bed where there was love and comfort. But maybe the opposite was true. You don’t see people sleeping out so much now. St Kilda’s changing. J gets distracted by the springs they look so good and you wouldn’t find this stuff in… … …

posted March 4 2005

J is taking a photo of more mattresses and sees K. She tells her that their conversation about dumpimg furniture has prompted this investigation.

K says “I can’t understand why people think they can just leave rubbish on the street”.

“I guess some people think they are being helpful by doing a bit of recycling. replies J.

Then she tells K about her neighbour who emptied the contents of his house into a skip. He was renting it out and was on a flying visit from Singapore where he lived most of the time.

J couldn’t stand the waste so she asked if she could salvage some of his rubbish. “He was really embarrassed and so was I, but in the end we both jumped into the skip and retreved all of the good stuff”. Some of it sat in the front garden for weeks until it was re-distributed through rooming houses, neighbours and Sacred Heart.

K said “oh if I see a something that’s good I always pull over and pick it up . My husband hates it”.

posted March 7 2005

Two more mattresses, this time in Carlisle St, J gets stuck on the past lives stuff again.. Love, pain, birth death, dreams, nightmares, if only a mattress could talk. They are single beds, she starts thinking about child abuse – J is glad they are mute.

She gets a text message from P.
Mtress alert Balaclava Stn. The camera batteries are flat.
She’ll have to miss this one.

posted March 8 2005

9.30 this morning J sees this bedding, she gets off her bike to take a photo and realises there is a sleeper in inside. She thinks about all those mattresses going to waste near her house.

You don’t see people sleeping out so much now. St Kilda’s changing… another wave of sadness hits. The rent has gone up but it’s still free to sleep in the park. J tells her friend F about the photo, who says “you didn’t take it did you”. J confesses that she had already pressed the button before she fully realised the bundle contained a person. F said in a disgusted voice “that was somebody sleeping”.

J said “but all you could see was bedding”, but she is still wondering ……..

posted March 9 2005

Everytime J looks at a mattress on the street she sees this image. The photo appeared in Saturday’s Age. The title of the article was Torture 21st Century Inquisitors. There was no reference made to the photo in the story, no title and no credit.

J recognized it immediately; anybody who has been to Cambodia’s Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh can never forget that bed. No mattress, no body, no compassion.
(The Age Review March 5th 2005)

posted March 14 2005

Found – St Kilda Overpass – Upper Esplanade
‘Father Exclusion is Child Abuse’
Charlie knows: St Kilda is a great location for promoting a product.
J wonders if this message is for the tourists or for locals.

posted March 15 2005

Found – Carlisle Street ‘beat’