Sunday, February 12, 2006

Mug shots

Went down the Sydney today. We started in Chonatown with a BBQ pork bun and walked over the Quay for an excellent thingy. We walked up George Street and along Macquarie Street where all the rich lawyers and doctors lived in colonial times. There's plenty of nice sandstone buildings still there and I took plenty of photos. Which turned out crap. Except for the two below.

Central Baptist Church portico
(Big version

The portico from this church I saw last time I was in George Street. Had a gander for the foundation stone today. There was just a stone saying it was dedicated in 1936. There's nothing on their site either to say when it was built but there's a picture of the inside on their site.

Victoria Regina
(Big version

Queen Victoria looming over the passersby behind St James. Across the road, in front of the Hyde Park Barracks, is a thingy of Prince Albert with "1866" on it. Must've been when the statue went up because Wikipedia has him carking it in 1861.

City of Shadows was on at the Justice & Police Museum. It was excellent. Some bloke called Doyle spent four years in an attic sorting through old mug shots from the 1910s to 1940s. Not the front-and-two-profiles mug shots they do nowadays. These were more like studio portraits.

The exhibition was packed into two fairly small rooms. In the first room there were a few small exhibits like the police photographers' camera and the clothes nicked from some house or shop. There was a map of the inner city and a slideshow of streetscapes. They were fascinating. Working class neighbourhoods like The Rocks. Narrow scruffy streets and a couple of shots of houses and shops.

In the other room there were more pictures on the walls and another slideshow. The first one was great but the second one was rivetting. It started with the mug shots. A battered cell wall behind and a stool and a lot of hat hair. This was When Men Wore Hats and most of the shots had the suspect clutching his or her hat and their hair sticking up. A few of them looked worried but most of them were pretty relaxed.

Then there were more street scenes. All this time there was a voiceover commenting on what'd been found out about the photos and what hadn't. In the street scenes the voiceover commented on how the streets were empty of adults when it was a crime scene but chockers with gawkers young and old when it was a fire or a car through a shop window.

There were interiors after that. Poky little rooms and one very middle-class bedroom, knocked over furniture and blood on a bed, a cafe where there'd been an assault, a pub I recognised from Oxford Street I'm sure. Then a few dead bodies. One bloke dead on the floor of a public loo with a bottle of booze beside him, a woman in a floral dress flat out on a kitchen floor and two bodies, one over the other in a parlour.

It was something the ordinary person doesn't see. Mug shots and crime scenes. That was compelling enough. But it had the added dimension of looking back in time and looking at the inner city crims between the wars.

The room was crowded and we went into the rest of the building after that. I went into the Charge Room and the Police Court and stood in the place of the suspect and the officer making a record of the charge, in the place of the witness in the court and of the solicitors (lawyers) and the magistrate. I've only ever been into a copshop to see if they could arrest my ex-boyfriend for being a dimwit (that's a whole other story) and all I saw was a uniform behind a counter.

Sitting in the different spots in the court was illuminating. The magistrate could see every part of the room. The law teams could see the reporters, the witness and the magistrate. There was a lantern in the ceiling (raised section of the roof with windows) and the room was quite light and airy. Until you sat in the dock. It was claustrophobic. It wasn't small, the info sheet says it could hold fifteen. But it had bars round it and it faced directly at the magistrate and the view was quite different.

Didn't get to see it all today but I'll be going back there for a better look at the building and another look at that exhibition.

5 comments:

SilverB said...

Hello Spike

I just popped over from "The Little Hedonist" (for those who don't know that is a person not a pub (although it would be a good name for a bar, that's it, the name is trademarked it's mine, anyway where was I) to say hello.

HELLO

Now don't get mad at me OK - promise - but have you read
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_of_Australia

so er well HM is "Queen of Australia".

Spike said...

2)
Huh. Must've been off school that day.

Presumably it makes some difference to our constitution and shit like that. I'm buggered if I know :)

1)
Hello.

SilverB said...

2)
Doing anything good?

1)
Heeelllllloooooo (Waves frantically)

Spike said...

2) Nah. Mostly brooding. You?

1) *semaphoring back*

SilverB said...

2) When you bunked off school

2b) currently, dodging the rain

2c) what you brooding over, anything good?


1) Hate you clever people, bet you know morse code as well, if only I'd stayed in the Girl Guides think of all the things I would have learned :-(