The Face of Melbourne

The Face of Melbourne
The Face of Melbourne

The first time I noticed the building was from the ANZAC memorial, far off in the distance a black and white face 32 storeys tall staring back at me. It was far away but I could make out the portrait clearly. I was intrigued and needed to know more about the building and, more importantly, whose face it was.

The Face of Melbourne

The face belonged to a man named William Barak.

The Face of Melbourne

William Barak

William Barak was born into the Wurundjeri clan in 1823. After serving as a tracker in the Native Police at 19 he followed in his fathers footsteps and became ngurungaeta or clan leader. Throughout his life he became a political leader and spokesman for his people, becoming a prominent figure in the struggle for Aboriginal rights and justice.

Barak lived during a time of great change. During his lifetime the number of white people living in southern Australia had climbed from almost none to over a million. As a young boy he witnessed the signing of John Batman’s 1835’s land purchase contract, which would have large consequences for his people.

The Face of Melbourne

Today Barak is remembered for his artwork. They depict indigenous life during that time and their encounters with Europeans, many of which have a permanent place in the National Gallery of Australia.

The Face of Melbourne

During the few days I was in Melbourne I came across the building a number of times, mostly by accident, but it was always a pleasant surprise. The building uses shadows created by negative space and white balconies to form the portrait of William Barak which can be seen from many angles.

Though having the face stand out in the Melbourne skyline is an example of times changing many feel that displaying the face of an Aboriginal elder and land rights activist on the front of high-end city real estate is a huge juxtaposition.

The Face of Melbourne

Being in Melbourne was the first time I had seen an example of architecture like this. Have you heard or know of any other examples of people or faces used in architecture? Share them in the comments below, I would be interested to see them.

Further Reading:

Views of the building from above and why Melbourne’s new William Barak building is a cruel juxtaposition from  The Conversation

Enjoy views of Melbourne from the balcony on

My History of Australian Aboriginals and their part in Tourism in Australia.

A more extensive look at the life of William Barak.


Melbourne Then and Now

My first day in Melbourne I knew exactly where I wanted to go. From my time there eight years ago I had become familiar with the city and knew that one of the best views was found from the roof of the ANZAC memorial, a 15 minute walk from the construction site that was currently covering Flinders Street Station.

In 2009 a friend encouraged me to travel to Australia and I did. I stayed for two years working and traveling around the country, before returning home. During that time I got to know Australia very well and made some great friends. It was a shame to leave but I knew some day I would be back, even if it was only to visit.

That very friend was now getting married and I was in Melbourne again, walking similar footsteps to those I had trod for the first time years ago and seeing those familiar sights.

Melbourne Then and Now

I would be spending a few days exploring Melbourne before travelling down to the Mornington Peninsula to meet my friend and his future wife, then the wedding would be held there in a couple of weeks.

But first I had to see melbourne.

The weather was overcast but that didn’t spoil the view. From the roof of the memorial you can see 360 degrees, but looking north across Melbourne’s skyline was by far the best. I tried to think back to the last time I stood here and wondered what had changed since then.

There was only one thing that I could notice. Straight down the middle, a building I am sure I would have remembered if I had seen it before. Can you spot it?

Melbourne Then and Now
Melbourne Then and Now

Melbourne 2009

Melbourne Then and Now

Melbourne 2017

Of course the two photos are taken years apart on two different cameras but look closely at the skyline and see if you can see the face of an unknown person. I was intrigued by the building and its mysterious face, during my few days in Melbourne it became an obsession. I had to know more.

Tuned in for my next post for more about the face in Melbourne’s skyline.

Take a look at the two views and let me know if there are any other differences you an spot.


System Failure

The last few months have been a whirlwind, devouring all my time and this blog has suffered as a result of that. This is something I want to remedy starting now.

Last year I packed up my life and moved countries, back home to the UK. Before getting completely settled I took a month holiday and went to Australia for a friends wedding, visiting Amsterdam and Beijing along the way.

System Failure

But the one thing I can blame for my silence is the destruction of my computer (largely from my own doing). It has played havoc with my workload and productivity, which is partly my fault as I am still procrastinating over which one to replace it with.

Though, I will not let these problems stand in my way any longer. I have been working on a few ideas in my head and it won’t be long before I put them together for you to see. Because of my recent travels and the change in my living situation I am sitting on a bunch of great content that I need you to see. I hope that I can find the words (and the time) to bring these to life.

I would greatly appreciate that you stick around and see what I have been up to in my absence, as well as what I am will be doing in the future. 2018 has started well and I aim for that to continue.

In the meantime visit my other accounts where I try to post more frequently:


The View from Helsinki Cathedral

The Helsinki Cathedral is an icon of the city and goes by many names, in Finnish its called Tuomiokirkko. Events and gatherings take place throughout the year in Senate Square with the Cathedral as its backdrop, locals gather on the steps during the summer, and its domes can be seen from all over the city.

As soon as I knew I was leaving Helsinki one building came to mind, the Helsinki Cathedral. I had little time left in the city and I knew that I must try and visit the dome and see the view from the top before I did. I had seen and heard about others doing it so I made the arrangements.

Since leaving Finland I had buried the photos away in my archives and sat on them a little too long. It is finally time to share those with you and hopefully you will see what is so great about the landmark and the beautiful city that surrounds it.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki doesn’t have the most impressive skyline when you compare it to other capital cities but it still has its fair share of remarkable buildings and some great examples of impressive architecture.. Below you can see St John’s Church, Mikael Agricola Church named after the godfather of Finnish Language, and my personal favourite the tower of the Helsinki Fire Station.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Once we had climbed more than a handful of narrow stairways we came into a opening, In the center of the space were the bells and surrounding them were windows facing in every direction. I was able to walk freely around the room and open any of the windows, allowing me obscured views over the city.

Luckily, the day was perfect. An almost clear sky allowed for excellent views and, even more importantly, some of the best photographs I have been able to take of the city I had called home for the last five years.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

The National Library of Finland has also become one of my much loved buildings in the city. From the outside the building carries little dominance compared to the other buildings surrounding the Cathedral but inside the details and architecture are different to anywhere else in the city.

See inside the National Library of Finland, though I won’t spoil the impressive main hall, that has to be seen for yourself.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Surrounding the Helsinki Cathedral are many official buildings including the beautiful House of the Estate (pictured below) and opposite it the Bank of Finland, as well as government buildings and part of the campus for Helsinki University.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

The tall granite tower of Kallio Church could be seen to the North, it is much closer than it seems and can be reached easily by tram, metro or even walking from the Cathedral. In comparison the two are very different in design, many of Helsinki’s places of worship are, including the relatively new Chapel of Silence in Kamppi and the well-visited  Temppeliaukio Church (Rock Church) in Töölö.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Senate Square

If Helsinki had a tourist center Senate Square would be it. The historical buildings date back to the early days of the city and the statue of Russian Emperor Alexander II located in the middle of the square is a reminder of the time Finland spent as an autonomous part of Russia.

Helsinki Cathedral is the jewel of Senate Square and dominates over the surrounding buildings. All built around the same period with many of them being designed by the German architect C.L Engel, the creator never lived to see his masterpiece finished. After his death a number of modifications were made to the design of the Cathedral.

In the harbour you can see the small ferry coming in from the island of Suomenlinna, a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike during the summer months. Another building worth mentioning is the Sederholm House, now the home of the Helsinki City Museum, and the oldest building in central Helsinki dating back to 1757.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Uspenski Cathedral

Another reminder of Russia’s influence in Helsinki is the nearby Uspenski Cathedral. Constructed a few years after the completion of Helsinki Cathedral and designed by a Russian architect by the name of Aleksey Gornostayev. Unfortunately, Gornostayev died before construction began.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Inside the Helsinki Cathedral

Hidden inside the structure of the Helsinki Cathedral is the original wooden frame. As we climbed higher and higher the smell of wood grew stronger. Wood is the backbone of Finland. Not only was it used heavily in the early days of construction but it is still relied on today. If you ever manage to venture outside of the cities you will soon understand why, trees grow in such abundance across the entire country.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

The old wooden crane that was used to build the structure and lift the heavy bronze bells into place still remains in the roof. It is almost impossible for me to understand how the Cathedral would have been constructed during the 1800’s and the effort needed to lift the bell into the roof is an achievement in itself.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

On the way up we stopped to admire the clock mechanism, a central unit with two metal rods reaching out to the clock faces on each side of the dome. After leaving the Cathedral I went around the outside and looked up to the clock that I had squeezed behind to photograph only a few moments ago.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

The Final View

The final view was from inside the dome itself. It may have not been the most impressive but it was still from the highest point that could be reached inside the Cathedral. A small dirt covered window facing East allowed for a view over the roof tops and into the suburbs. At the time I didn’t realise but this was my last view across the city and what an excellent one it was.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Further Reading:

If you love views then I am sure you would be interested in seeing views from the other places I have visited in the Helsinki.

Helsinki Cathedral from the Fire Station

The View from Kallio Church in summer and winter

Photos of Helsinki Cathedral

Coming soon: Climbing Kallio Church


The Human Body

I don’t spend nearly enough time in London, it’s a great city with so much to offer. When I do make it there I often get wrapped up in the usual sights to see anything new from the city, but I normally come across one or two new details which impress me.

More often than not these details are the ones that you come across by mistake, you find them when you least expect to, they surprise you, and this is exactly what happened during my recent visit.

But before I tell that story I have to go back a few years to the beginning.

Around five years ago I was flying out to Helsinki from London and had heard about a Damien Hirst exhibition taking place at the Tate Modern, I decided to head down a day early, stay with a friend, and catch my flight after checking out the exhibition.

The Human Body

Damien Hirst at the Tate

Outside the Tate Modern I was greeted by a large sculpture of a human body. The sculpture closely resembled the plastic figures that are used in biology classes,  the ones you can take apart to understand the body’s anatomy, only much larger.

It was my first time at the Tate and my first time seeing Hirst’s work, both equally impressive. I had arrived early and the museum hadn’t yet opened for the day so I spent a bit of time photographing the sculpture and the view over the Millenium Bridge to St Paul’s.

The sculpture itself looked over one of my most favourite views of the city.

The Human Body

Sculpture in the City

This brings me to my more recent visit.

On the way to Leadenhall Market, one of London’s oldest market, to meet a friend I came across another sculpture. At first I thought the sculpture was the same as the one I had seen in London all those years go. It wasn’t until I came home and delved into my archives that I realised they were different.

My searched deepened, I found out the name of the piece, Temple also by Damien Hirst, and that it was part of a public art exhibition called Sculpture in the City.

I guess the point of this story is to say that two unconnected points in time can be linked in a way you may have never expected, chance encounters that take you back in time to past moments. If nothing else it was a good excuse to go through some old photos.

Further Reading:

More from Sculpture in the City 2017 by TimeOut and about the artworks.

Also my last post about the Black Shed Expanded

Explore the Helsinki Metro and the sculptures you can see along the journey, as well as the Sculptures of Helsinki in general.


Sculpture in the City

Black Shed Expanded

Black Shed Expanded by Nathaniel Rackowe stands below the building more commonly known as the Gherkin. The shed, painted in black bitumen, looks as if it is being blown apart by the yellow light that comes from within.

Rackowe said about his work, ‘I thought it interesting to take the humble shed and elevate it so it can rise up and challenge architecture, deconstructing it to the point where you are forced to re-read it.’

Black Shed Expanded is part of a larger public exhibition know as Sculpture in the City comprising of 18 other pieces dotted around the financial district of London.

Further Reading:

Sculpture in the City: About the artworks

Public art in the Helsinki Metro

Sculptures of Helsinki

Jussi TwoSeven the street artist that displays his work in public places


Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall 

Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall is the oldest indoor swimming hall in Helsinki, opening in 1928, and located in Kamppi.  Originally the hall was privately owned until 1954 when it was transferred to the Finnish Sports Federation and then in 1967 to the City of Helsinki.

Being naked was one of the hardest things for me to adjust to about living in Finland. To most Finns it isn’t given a second thought, it’s a part of their culture and almost goes hand in hand with going to the sauna.

I had never been brave enough to visit Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall while it was open, the fear of the unknown was too overwhelming. I had adjusted to being naked in the sauna but there was something about naked swimming that felt like a step too far.

Housed inside is one pool, 25 metres in length and 10 metres wide. The hall has gone through a number of renovations, the last in 1997, though its interior has not been changed since it first opened.

Traditionally people swam naked in Yrjönkatu but since 2001 it became optional to wear a swimming suit or not. As you can swim naked days are separated and alternated between men and women.

I was able to arrange a time to visit the swimming hall before they had opened for the day. The water was perfectly clear and blue, reflecting its surroundings on the still surface of the pool.

Hidden away from view are the changing areas, showers, saunas (of course), and even a cafe on the second floor with seating looking over the pool.

More information about Yrjönkatu can be found on the City of Helsinki’s website.

This place was so amazing I couldn’t stop taking photos, it must be one of the best building interiors I have visited during my time in Helsinki.

What do you think? Have you been there?

If you would like to see more from Yrjonkatu Swimming Hall let me know in the comments and I may post a few more. Don’t forget to visit Instagram for more in the meantime!