A new book has been created that features artworks of the recently departed Queen’s Wharf Tower.
Dylan Smyth created the book with works of art from 17 Newcastle artists. He said the book was a “tongue-in-cheek tribute” to the “gloriously phallic” tower.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years before there was any kind of talk of pulling the tower down,” Dylan said.
“When I found out the tower was coming down, that was the time to make it happen.”
Dylan had long believed the tower had value to Newcastle. He said it was a larrikin object that “speaks to the mixed history of Newcastle”.
He was interested in “how we ended up with a tower that has this awkward shape”.
The book, titled Dick Pics, was aimed at giving “greater exposure to local creatives”.
“Whenever I do these kinds of projects, I make a real note of trying to promote the creative community in Newcastle,” he said.
“It can be tough here at times [for artists], especially now there’s all this development. A lot of the creative forces that brought the city up over the last five or more years have now been pushed to the back.
“Development is great, but it’s important to say ‘hey, we’re here and we want this to be a really interesting and unique city’.”
Artist Rayannon Innes has an essay in the book about Newcastle’s creative scene.
She wrote that the “faceless pedestrians in the latest urban development artist’s impression” would probably consider Newcastle to be “a mini-me Melbourne” or a “world-class urban village with a Soho feel”.
“Fortunately, the artists who have contributed to this book have faces and, better yet, impressions of a city that speak much more honestly to the culture that makes this place what it so uniquely is,” she wrote.
She added that Newcastle appeared to be “doing anything we can to fit in with the popular kids”.
“Newcastle needn’t yearn to be something that it’s not. It has so many defining qualities already, even if they are just the marvellously mundane,” she said.
“The old belief that you have to leave Newcastle to gain a meaningful career – creative or otherwise – is well and truly dead and buried. We have a number of passionate, risk-taking creatives to thank for some of that. Before another palm tree-laden urban oasis is announced, let’s remember to not uproot what has made this city so culturally vibrant to this day.”
Dylan said that if the tower was considered embarrassing because of its awkward shape, he’d “prefer to laugh about that and keep that in our future, rather than trying to hide it and get rid of it”.
Artist Brett Piva said in the book that the tower was “a nice icon for the larrikin in all of us in Newcastle – we’re blue-collared, we take the piss out of everything and now we’ve lost that icon that represents a bit of that”.
Artist Trevor Dickinson said: “I think we’ll look back and consider this [Queen’s Wharf Tower] to be an iconic piece of architecture. It was just too soon for anyone to have that belief at this time”.
“I hope that this book isn’t taken completely as a joke. It’s tongue in cheek but it’s also quite serious.”
The book’s launch will be held at The Station next Sunday (December 9) at the 10-year anniversary of Renew Newcastle.
Order the book at dylansmyth.com.
Stories emerged recently of cyclists coming a cropper on Newcastle’s tram lines. Then Topics reported that R2-D2, of Star Wars fame, had a nasty stack on the lines.
Turns out the lines aren’t great for an inflatable tyrannosaurus rex, either.
Kevin Bresch, of Gateshead, said these stories reminded him of his days as a young motorbike rider when the tram tracks remained in the road in the late 1950s.
Kevin said there was a trick to riding a motorbike along Hunter Street, where the tram tracks turned into Burwood Street.
It was here that “you could get your wheel caught in tracks”, he said.
“The trick was to go with the sweep until the track straightened, then you could get your wheel out of the rut safely.
“I guess history does repeat itself, as the tram tracks are once again giving problems to cyclists and robots who don't know how to ride the rails.”
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