Nah, It's Canberra
Images from the Nah, It's Canberra blog. Photo: Mel Edwards
Canberrans, notoriously sensitive about what others think of us and our city, may tremble to hear the news that people of 76 different countries (so far) have got probably their only impressions of Canberra from just one quite new and very unorthodox blog. What will they think of us?
Mel Edwards' Nah [no], It's Canberra blog is her gallery, ever-growing, of her photographs of a kind of contrary Canberra. Her Canberra is lurking just behind the Canberra we think we see and know, or is just down one of the city's seldom-travelled alleyways or footpaths. For those of us who evangelise about Canberra's largely unnoticed rich diversity and quaintness, and who also whinge about Canberra artists not appreciating it, the discovery of Nah, It's Canberra comes like the happy avalanche of all our Christmases at once.
Edwards came to Canberra from New Zealand in 2011 and is a consultant service designer. She's fiendishly busy designing services but says that away from work ''I really enjoy going out for a hunt''.
She goes hunting armed with just the camera that's on her iPhone, albeit augmented with an added photo app.
For her Nah, It's Canberra series she sometimes photographs familiar Canberra in different ways (sometimes from odd angles or in unusual lights) or sometimes visits and photographs seldom-visited Canberra nooks and crannies and vistas. She hasn't found Canberrans easy to get to know and so ''I've thought that if I can't get to know the people I'll get to know the city''. Getting to know the city she's found that some of what she sees in Canberra suggests to her somewhere or something quite unCanberran.
And so her picture's captions begin with a description of where and when in the world you might imagine the picture was taken and then informs you that, nah, bless you, it's an understandable mistake but you're wrong. It's actually somewhere or something right here in today's Canberra.
So for example surely this red-brick building with battlements is ''The Eglinton Castle stables, Kilwinning, North Ayrshire in Scotland. Nah, it's the back of the Canberra Baptist Church, Kingston''.
''The Three Faces of Aslan: [Creator and one true king of the world of Narnia] The Sovereign, The Nurturer, The Almighty? Nah, it's the three faces of Jake, Mishka and Megalou at Canberra Zoo.''
''Burglen, Switzerland - William Tell's local practice ground (October 1307)? Nah, it's the Weston Valley Archery Club shooting line (August 2012).''
''An asteroid hurtling towards us only to burn up in the atmosphere and whatever's left of it to be no bigger than a chihuahua's head? Nah, it's [the sun through] foggy mist over the War Memorial on Anzac Avenue.''
Edwards doesn't have tickets on herself (''I'm not a photographer'') and reports the phenomenal popularity of her blog with sincere surprise verging on wonder. It's only been up and buzzing since June but has had 10,000 hits, including hits from the folk of 76 lands. She's found the blog very dear to the hearts of some homesick Canberrans sprinkled far from home around the nation and the planet.
At her blog and with many of the pictures (click on ''Archive'' for the full gallery) there are messages attached to them by people thanking her for showing them a different, weirder, more characterful Canberra. This column (which, too, takes on different shapes, colours and characters depending on what angle you ogle it at and on what Canberra's ever-changing light is doing) joins in those thanks.