I’m working on a public art project in Brisbane, Australia at the moment. We’ve been commissioned to breath new life into a series of urban thoroughfares that have recently fallen into a rather uninspiring state; Half ‘antigraffiti orange’, half hundred year old concrete bridge.
This week we’ve been on location, collecting information about how these places are used and by whom. It’s not been easy, but it has been rather promising. Almost every vistor doesn’t not stop unless they’ve dropped something – or need to tie their shoes. If we get just one person to stop after we finish – that’s a 100% improvement!
I’m interested in the significance of developing these places; for locals, tourists and the identity of the area. I’m curious about these in-between places, places that people don’t normally stop for – but sometimes pause in. In France, there is one particular example of these pause places; in Dijon. Along Rue de la chouette (Owl Street) there is – surprise – an Owl. This sculpted owl, no bigger than the size of an average hand span has become a thing of myth and local folklore. It is believed to bring good-luck to any passer by; simply if they rub the owl with their left hand while making a wish.
Testament to this belief is the Owl’s appearance….
La Chouette; ‘The Owl’ is a small carving, etched out of one flying buttresses of the Nortre Dame Cathedral in Dijion, France. It is believed to be either the trademark of a master stonemason or the cathedral’s architect – I’m not ruling out old old old school street art though… and – there appears to be no definitive source of information on the origin of this tiny sculpture – however I’m still looking…
I’m curious about these tiny adjustments – these seemingly insignificant additions to a public place that can turn walking to work into something a little more enchanting and memorable.
More of La Chouette here: