Dérive is a tactic of psychogeography which “…emphasises drifting around urban environments.” It is the practice of dropping one’s “usual motives for movement and action … to be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters…” found there. Dérive is somewhat of a ‘playful creation’ for human relationships.
This week I chose a colour to follow to wherever it could lead me for one hour. As I walked out of the Tribeca Apartments in East Melbourne (formerly the Victoria Bitter Brewery), I was greeted by lonely, green leaves hanging sparsely on the branches of potted trees and a faded green concreted area encasing these trees. My decision became quite instant – I would follow the colour green for the next hour, using a GoPro Hero 3 and a Samsung Galaxy S IV to document my journey.The tiles reminded me of a warn life, something so elegant that has become tired and overworked through the years. It was obvious these tiles once held more life to them – they were once new and lively. Now, they are the symbol of a thriving enterprise: serviced apartments, homes, workspaces and shops.
Looking up from the tiles, I was faced with the logo of the Fish and Chip shop within the Tribeca complex: Kiwi.The vibrant green of the Kiwi logo encourages faith in the business that promotes “…friendly service [and] vibrant atmosphere…” As I walked beyond Kiwi, noticing the satisfied customer’s huddled inside the shop laughing as they munched down on their lunch, I found myself on Albert Street. Green moss coloured the footpath. It was as though a secret was entwined within the concrete. A love affair of sorts between what should be there and should not.
I travelled up Albert Street, following the green moss tangled within the concrete. I came to an intersection, crossing to the side which the green man appeared first.
I had been on my journey for a short amount of time at this point and had already experienced the happenstance of the colour green five times, each with their own different meanings apparent. The energetic buzz as the traffic lights called me across the road lead me into an entrance for Fitzroy Gardens.
I spent the rest of my journey experiencing the environment Fitzroy Gardens offered to a passerby. Following the edge of the grass around the footpath led me to a water fountain already enjoyed by a young couple and a child of no more than three with her grandmother.
The young couple that watched the water fall into the surrounding pond were in a world of their own. Holding hands tightly and whispering to one another like every word was secretly important. It was as though everyone else in the Gardens were invisible; it was only the two of them that were important. The mood over the other side of the fountain, however, changed as the little girl noticed the “duckies” swimming in the pond. She was ecstatic. I could not help but feel the elation in her voice. I smiled to myself as I continued to listen to her chirp to her grandmother that she had to tell her “mummy about the duckies”. Leaving both the environments of the young couple and the little girl, I continued to follow the grass around the path.
The quaint marquee (pictured above) that invited its guests to follow it by a path of white petals was the next highlight of my journey. The marquee itself, with the flower petals, evoked happiness in me as I came to the conclusion that it was more than likely someone married here today. It would have been the most beautiful sight. Another couple in their own world where only the two of them mattered. Whatever else that was happening around Fitzroy Gardens at the time would not have mattered to the couple and their guests (if any), only the moment in time was worth the thought.
As I continued on my way, I crossed paths with a man pulling along his suitcase.
One could only assume he was heading to airport at some stage of the day, but that may not be his story. Seeing him walking through the Gardens made me curious – I wanted to ask him if he was going to the airport, but he was in a rush. With my mind pondering the man and his suitcase, I continued on my way, following the sparse leaves on the trees that towered over me and the grass that lined the footpath. I found myself at the Model Tudor Village.
The Model Village reminded me of the studies I did in High School about the Tudor Monarch. It was nostalgic for me. I had fallen into the memories of year eleven – what I had learned, who I had class with and what I missed about where I was two years ago resignated within my mind. The elderly couple behind me, however, remarked that it was “…such a lovely fairy garden.” It was not important to correct them. They saw it as a fairy garden, as I saw it as memories.
The flowers residing across from the Model Tudor Village was what I saw next. A beautiful composition of different tones of purple. The colour left me deep in thought as travelled to continue my journey. I was inspired to reflect upon what I was experiencing.
I continued my journey, this time following the darker green of the jungle-like trees that encased a small bridge hovering over a barren bank a creek could flow through.
The darker shades of green this area of Fitzroy Gardens encompassed reminded me of home – Darwin. Quite a lot of the suburban and rural areas of the Top End of the Northern Territory are remarkably similar to the above images of the enclosed bridge at the Gardens. It was surprising to me to see this jungle-like area of Fitzroy Gardens as the previous aspects of my journey had involved me following the lighter green grass, on a less enclosed path. I was, nonetheless, inspired to think that I would come back to this part of the Gardens at a later date when I may be able to see a flowing creek. Continuing over the bridge, I came to another open place, where families were having picnics under the shade of the trees and children were riding their scooters along the footpath.
It was a cheerful sight. Family members and friends chatted away, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed themselves on a beautiful day (wherein the weather in Melbourne stayed constant). The brother and sister pictured above raced ahead of their parents on the path, leaving them behind with a giggle that faded the more they concentrated. The parents picked up their pace; a leisurely stroll, turning into a power walk. I was captivated. Joy was all around me.
The grass eventually led me to a place within the Gardens surrounded by tourists, experiencing the sight in a different manner to I.
Captain Cook’s Cottage is another remarkable form of history hidden within Fitzroy Gardens. When I first moved to Melbourne I came to experience the Cottage myself. It was wonderful to learn that such a rich piece of Australia’s history was so well maintained. I was amazed at how tiny the Cottage was: my bedroom is the size of the entire bottom floor living area. When I made it to Captain Cook’s Cottage this time, I sensed the excitement of the tourist group. It was intriguing to see that the group had the same reaction to the Cottage as I did the first time.
My journey continued as I followed more instances of the colour green that lead me past gardens of beautiful orange and white flowers. The gardens led me to Sinclair’s Cottage (pictured below), “…one of the earliest substantial buildings constructed in the Fitzroy Gardens…” as the sign read. Named after the the head gardener in the 1860’s and 1870’s, Sinclair’s Cottage “…was used as a residence by caretakers until the 1990’s.”
I was amazed by the history the second cottage in Fitzroy Garden’s displayed. It provided me with more of an understanding of Victoria’s history – something we’re not taught about to a significant in the Territory. The beauty of the quaint cottage was outstanding. Sinclair’s Cottage was the last highlight of my journey also, as my hour following the colour green was nearing its end and I had found my way to the Wellington Parade exit of Fitzroy Gardens.
As my journey ended, I reflected upon the dérive I had experienced in an hour of following instances of the colour green. I had drifted my way around the closed worlds of couples, children, families and friends, and even individuals (such as the man with his suitcase). Had my experience been transformed into a soundscape, the listener would be immersed into a musical composition of cars rushing past, traffic lights signalling to walk, hushed conversations and exploding bursts of laughter, and the chirping of children and birds. Moving around Fitzroy Gardens without a goal in mind, opened my eyes and ears to an experience of observation. I was immersed into the relationships of others with the Gardens: a date place, a play place, a picnic spot, a tourist destination. I was drawn to reflect upon what the attractions of Fitzroy Gardens meant to myself and everyone I encountered in my hour spent chasing the colour green.