‘Webs stretched across the suburb’

If you are interested in Glebe’s social history and in great writing, you will certainly be interested in Anna Couani’s feature piece in the Sydney Review of Books (https://sydneyreviewofbooks.com/new-essay-anna-couani-glebe/).

In her essay titled Beauty is now underfoot wherever we take the trouble to look, Anna reflects on her decades-long connection with Glebe, ‘like a series of webs stretched thin across the suburb, across the seven different places I lived in. My architectural, artistic, feminist and literary histories are all here, overlaid and traversing the decades.’

Anna was part of the group of experimental writers in Glebe in the 70s and 80s (mentioned in Max Solling’s book, Grandeur and Grit). As social history, this essay is fascinating – who was living where (and with whom!), when, and so on. Of course it is more than that, and I leave it to the reader to discover that ‘more’ for themselves. Anna’s essay is illustrated by several of her artworks, including her 1974 charcoal on linen drawing (reproduced here) of the Glebe Island Bridge.

Anna now runs The Shop Gallery at 112 Glebe Point Rd, in the premises that were once the Cornstalk Bookshop. From 5-10 April, the Shop Gallery is hosting an exhibition called ‘Natural Selection’, described as ‘a curated selection of art, craft and objects featuring native flora and fauna’.

Anna’s essay is one of a number published by the Sydney Review of Books in the series

‘Writing NSW’ (https://sydneyreviewofbooks.com/category/writing-nsw/); 16 literary essays ‘rooted in the geography, culture and social life of NSW’.

Glebe Island Bridge – 76 x 61 cm, oil and charcoal on linen 1974 (image: Anna Couani)

Vintage Glebe’ by Anna Couani

the land sloped all the way to the water
with no fence
and at the water’s edge in the shallows
was a small beach
and walking into the water
the brown mud squelched between your toes
seemed saturated with grease
embedded with shards of civilisation
sharp things

today the waterfront walk has claimed a slice
of waterfront land
from the end of the bay winding around
to the busy highway
beautifully landscaped Council initiative

I stand at the water looking up at the old mansion
at its bay window
at the still unpainted derelict walls
just as they were 45 years ago

now the slope to the water
once dry and bare
is jungle

the big Harbour Lighterage crane
now an arch over the path
historical remnant