Canberra's bus shelters have evolved from being regarded as "concrete monstrosities" to a genuine Canberra icon, with everything from bus shelter earrings to bus shelter tattoos now all the rage.
The man who can lay claim to making the bus shelters cool is artist Trevor Dickinson, who has just released the Beautiful Bus Shelters of Canberra, a 166-page, hardcover book that is another step in his odyssey to honour the utilitarian structure.
The bus shelters were designed by Canberra and architect Clem Cummings in 1974 and the first started to be placed in the national capital in 1975, initially in Lyneham.
At the beginning, the shelters horrified some Canberrans who wrote to The Canberra Times complaining about the "grim, grey" "concrete monstrosities" that would be "more at home defending the French coast of 1945 than sheltering nonplused Canberra citizens". Not to mention decrying the $2300 per shelter cost.
Decades later, Dickinson, from Newcastle, just saw the bus shelters as "an overlooked and very cool seventies' structure". He has almost singlehandedly elevated the bus shelters to icon status, his first drawing of one for a tea towel in 2012. He's since reproduced them on everything from playing cards to coffee cups. The bus shelters can be at once beautiful, covered in vines, and ugly, beer bottles lined up beside them.
His favourite drawing is of a bus shelter on Narrabundah Lane in Symonston in December 2017, the birds almost falling out of the sky in the heat and the structure alone with a paddock behind it.
"It shows like how Canberra just stops and then there's nothing," he said.
One of his best selling images is of a bus shelter in Tallara Parkway, Narrabundah which has "big fat poo" graffitied on it. The character of Cleaver Greene famously drank from a "big fat poo" bus shelter coffee cup in the ABC-TV series Rake. Peak pop culture right there.
"When I first came here, people would say, 'Why would you draw those? They're really ugly'," Dickinson said.
"Now when you see a collection of Canberra icons, you see Parliament House, Telstra Tower and a bus shelter. I think it's great it's been recognised and celebrated."
Dickinson then spent six years photographing every Cummings shelter on the streets of the national capital, while drawing 52 of them, documenting the time and place, so the drawings are as much an ode to Canberra's changing seasons.
The book now includes those photographs and drawings and explains where some of the bus shelters have been shifted.
As Dickinson notes in the book, Cummings designed the bus shelters to last a lot longer than expected and they were not easily discarded.
"They're weather-proof, vandal-proof and, if hit by a car, the bus shelter almost always wins," he wrote.
"I often hear the myth that they're getting rid of them. In reality, the shelters are just moved around the capital like giant chess pieces."
One shelter that was once in Campbell is now in Bruce; another from Rivett is now in Ngunnawal and so on, as bus routes and passenger movements change.
Dickinson was in Canberra this week to deliver his books to local stores.
He posed at the site of a former bus shelter in Nerang Street, Fyshwick, which has since been moved to Hoskins Street in Mitchell.
He was delighted to see the random "black power" graffiti on the wall behind, which he captured in his drawing of the shelter, had survived.
"I like highlighting these things that nobody else notices," he said.