The Charles Dickens Statue in Australia

Did you know that there are a few statues of Charles Dickens in the entire world?

That’s because Charles Dickens had very specific wishes for how he wanted to be remembered in his will. 

Charles Dickens’ Will

Charles Dickens is one of the world’s most loved and well-known authors. His will stated that there were to be no public memorials built in his memory. He wanted to be remembered through his many works instead. 

For the most part, his wishes have been respected. However, there have been a few statues crafted to honor him throughout the world. You can find one of these statues in Sydney, Australia.

History of Sydney’s Statue

The Charles Dickens Statue in Sydney is in the Centennial Parklands. It’s believed to have been built and placed in the park around 1891, about 21 years after his death.

In 1971, most of the statues in the park were removed. The Charles Dickens statue was placed into storage and moved from one location to another for about 40 years, and no one knew its exact whereabouts during that time.

Throughout these years, there were quite a few inquiries as to its location, but in 2007, a letter was published asking about the Charles Dickens statue’s location, and it was finally located.

Restoring the Statue

When the statue of Charles Dickens was located, it needed some restoration. The head had been lost due to vandals and was also missing a baby finger, a scroll, and a quill. It took a year and a few tries to find the marble that matched the original. Photos of the original statue were used to recreate the missing pieces.

The Charles Dickens Statue Today

The Charles Dickens statue was placed at the junction of Dickens Drive and Loch Avenue, its location from 1897-1971. The statue was unveiled on Dicken’s 199th birthday in 2011. You can visit the statue at any time, but if you happen to visit on his birthday, you’ll find a celebration, including cake!

Balls Head Reserve: A Rare Aboriginal Carving of a Whale

One of the most interesting points of interest you’ll see while visiting Balls Head Reserve is the aboriginal carving of a whale. 

You’ll find the carving at the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability. The first thing you’ll notice is the size.

The figure of the whale is approximately 20 feet long, making it one of the largest aboriginal carvings you’ll ever encounter. 

The Discovery

Workers who were responsible for helping renovate the Coal Loader were stunned when they discovered the carving. No one knew of it’s existence up until that point. Today, it is a one of the sites most people say they must view while they’re visiting the area. While everyone was surprised by the whale carving, there is a history of aboriginal carvings in that area. There is historic data that many carvings were mapped that dates back to 1899. Sadly, most of the carvings no longer exist, which makes the whale carving even more special.

Considering that it’s very old and that the area sustained significant damage the Coal Loader Centre was originally constructed, the whale carving is in surprisingly good condition. Although some of the original, shallow carvings have been eroded by time, the bulk of the carving is highly visible.

Activities at Balls Head Reserve

The Aboriginal Carving of the Whale is just one of the things you’ll enjoy when you visit Balls Head Reserve. Additional activities include touring the community nursery, shopping at the artisan market, and taking in one of the many environmental events that are frequently taking place near the whale carving. The site is open to public tours.

Take Me There!

The easiest way to view the Aboriginal Carving of the Whale is going to the Waverton Train Station. From there, it’s an easy 10 minute walk to the carving. The walk provides you with an excellent opportunity to take in the area’s natural beauty and catch sight of the remaining pieces of the original Coal Loader Centre.

Forgotten Songs at Angel Place

Forgotten Songs is a striking visual and audio sculpture located at Angel Place in Sydney, Australia.

The sculpture combines the jarring image of bird cages suspended above the walkway with recordings of 50 native birds that formerly inhabited the Sydney area.

It provides an eloquent object lesson concerning the changes humans have wrought in their thirst for development, and encourages the observer to consider their own place in the birds’ former habitat.

It Takes a Village

Forgotten Songs was conceptualized by artist Michael Thomas Hill to draw attention to the many species of birds who have lost their homes due to habitat destruction since the arrival of European settlers in 1788. The resulting artwork was fully realized through the efforts of a team of scientists, artists, programmers, designers. Dr. Richard Major, the senior research scientist on the project, analyzed the habitat, soil, and water availability in the area to determine which birds would likely have existed in the area prior to European settlement. He further determined which of the birds were diurnal and which nocturnal, so that the sculpture could be programmed to play the songs of the birds that are active at a given time of day. Actual audio recordings of the birds were procured in the field by Fred van Gessel.

In addition to Hill’s artistry, van Gessel’s recordings, and Dr. Major’s research, the final product can be attributed to Lightwell (Audio System Design and Programming), Freeman Ryan Design (Graphic Design), and Aspect Studio (Landscape Architecture). The result is a haunting and ghostly composition of bird songs and imagery to remind us of birds who no longer grace the trees of central Sydney.

A Call To Action

According to the Australian Department of Environment and Energy, 50 species and 81 subspecies of Australian birds are currently endangered, including 8 species and 14 subspecies that are categorized as extinct. The primary cause of animal endangerment and extinction worldwide is loss of habitat due to human development. Forgotten Songs is meant to recall the beauty of the habitat that has been lost, and to remind the observer that we must all work together to take action before it is too late. 

Sources:

“Forgotten Songs”. City of Sydney City Art. https://www.cityartsydney.com.au/artwork/forgotten-songs/. Accessed 25 August 2019.

“Numbers of Living Species in Australia and the World”. Australian Department of The Environment and Energy. https://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/publications/other/numbers-living-species/discussion-chordates. Accessed 25 August 2019.

Scrapbooking: Keep Your Memories Alive Through Visual Storytelling

Scrapbooking has been around longer than photography, and it’s essentially storytelling with more than just words.

Using things like photos, artifacts, tangible memories, and more, scrapbooks are a way to document memories. 

The Origins of Scrapbooking

Diaries, journals, and other forms of record-keeping have been around since before the 15th century. Bibles are a prime example of this, as they are the earliest recorded use of family record-keeping with births, deaths, marriages, and other important dates being recorded. In the late 1700s, extra-illustrating books became popular, where books had extra pockets, drawing places, and scrap holders. And literal scraps of newspaper were collected for the 1839 book “American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses.” During the 1800s, books of scraps became more popular, and blank notebooks began being filled with scraps of memories, such as clippings, cards, printed memorabilia, and a mix of sketches and journal entries. It’s also when the word scrapbook first came to be used, believed to be in 1821 and then as a verb in 1879.

By the 1850s, when photographs called visit cards became popular as a way of trading photos with friends and family, the first true scrapbooks were created. In 1872, famous author Mark Twain invented the self-adhesive scrapbook, which became widely popular. The 1900s brought recipe scrapbooks, where family recipes became a way to pass down family history. It also brought the invention of the Brownie camera, which led to people taking their own, now more casual photos and boosting the use of scrapbooking for everyday people. In 1981, the first store devoted to scrapbooking was opened and many more continued to open throughout the end of the 20th century.  With the invention of social media, digital scrapbooking became very popular. Today, there are many ways to create a scrapbook.

Getting Started with Scrapbooking

Anyone and everyone can scrapbook. Even President Thomas Jefferson scrapbooked! To get started, you can contact a professional scrapbooker, ask a friend that scrapbooks, or venture out into the vast abyss of supplies on your own. Stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby carry an extensive selection of supplies.

All it really takes though, is a blank book, some glue, and the things you want to save in your scrapbook. Decide on a theme and then plan out each page before you commit to gluing items down. Get creative with your layout, and leave some space to tell your story with captions or brief journal entries. After the main items are glued down and the areas for text created, you can add fun colors, embellishments, and decor if you want. Pinterest is a great place to generate helpful design ideas.

To get fancier, you can take classes or buy embellishments to add to your album. If you aren’t crafty, you can use online software to help create a digital scrapbook or photo printing companies and create an album that way. There are even parties, retreats, and other get-togethers held by women who love to scrapbook. The possibilities are endless, and you’re only limited to your imagination – and maybe your budget. 

Keeping Memories Alive

While the technology available and the techniques have certainly changed since scrapbooks first arrived on the scene, the desire to tell stories hasn’t, and recording history will always be an important thing to leave to future generations. Doing this with meaningful expression makes it even more valuable.