Axon: Creative Explorations, Vol 5, No 1, March 2015

In this issue, I wanted to escape the recent incarnation of ‘creative cities’ as a policy provision for artist-led urban renewal in western cityscapes rapidly transformed by de-industrialisation and the continued expansion of suburban living.  Instead I wanted to return to a basic sense of the interaction of art and city: to see how artists, writers and poets worked within and tried to understand ‘the city’ or ‘the urban’ in and through their own practice: as inspiration, as material, as context, as milieu.

The results are a collection of pieces that deal explicitly with public art, or art as public (Courtney Pedersen; Lucas Ihlein; Ryan Reynolds); that estrange the everyday (Katie Hayne; U.K. Frederick); or evoke the city at its most personal, its most experiential, its most edgy (Katrina Finlayson; Paul Magee; Rachel Robertson; Chantelle Bayes).  In trying to represent the urban, writing  and art can have aspirations to be like a city (Anthony Uhlmann interviews Anthony Macris about his Capital novels), while some cities have a history of inspiring writers and artists (Paul Venzo takes us on a nomad’s tour of Venice and the Veneto).

There are stories of community here also. Keg de Souza reports on her community-based art work in Yogyakarta that contrasts enforced gentrification and ghost-hunting. Ryan Reynolds has kindly allowed us to re-publish his essay on the Gap Filler organisation formed in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes. Bethaney Turner and Cathy Hope recast the idea of 'creative cities' via Canberra's alternative food networks. Caren Florance imagines the national importance of a community of fine and artist book-making in Canberra; a Melbourne writing community grapples with the experience of experimental architecture (‘Essaying the fabpod’); and Anthony Hayes elucidates the importance of the elusive Hamburg Theses to the influential group of urban radicals, the Situationist International.

Of course, there is poetry: from suburban rhythms, to Lisbon trains; from New York sleep, to Pittsburgh dreaming; from Guangzhou streetscapes to mapping the world. From the city to the country and back again. 

Consultant Editor for this issue: Shane Strange