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y separately published work icon Mirror Sydney selected work   essay  
Issue Details: First known date: 2017... 2017 Mirror Sydney
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

‘These places were like resistors on a circuit board. My thoughts stuck to them. They had auras: each gave me a strong feeling that there was, embedded amid the everyday, an order of unpredictable things.’

In her delicately wrought essays and hand-drawn maps, Vanessa Berry describes her encounters with unusual, forgotten or abandoned places in the city in which she was born and raised, using their details to open up repositories of significance, and to create an alternative city, a Mirror Sydney, illuminated by memory and imagination. She writes at a time when Sydney is being disassembled and rebuilt at an alarming rate. Her determined observation of the over-looked and the odd, the hidden and the enigmatic – precisely those details whose existence is most threatened by development – is an act of preservation in its own right, a testament to what she calls ‘the radical potential of taking notice’.

Berry’s work combines a low-fi DIY approach with an awareness of the tradition of philosophical urban investigation. Her unique style of map illustration was developed through the making of zines and artworks, collaging detailed line drawings with text from typewriters and Letraset.  (Publication summary) 

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Artarmon, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Giramondo Publishing , 2017 .
      image of person or book cover 657745037237176496.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 320p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 1 October 2017

      ISBN: 9781925336252

Works about this Work

Palimpsest Lucas Thompson , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , January–February no. 398 2018; (p. 50)

'Cities are essentially palimpsests, layered with overlapping lives, structures, and stories. Constantly in flux, each city is a sprawling and unwieldy text that is continually being rewritten. In Mirror Sydney, Vanessa Berry peels back many of the Harbour City’s layers, to reveal a tangle of hidden meanings and bygone inhabitants. Her book takes us on an eccentric journey through forgotten parts of the city’s history, suburbs, and architecture, while mounting a persuasive argument for paying closer attention to our surrounds.' (Introduction)

Best Books of 2017 #1 FL , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 23 December- 26 January 2018;

— Review of Mirror Sydney Vanessa Berry , 2017 selected work essay

'In Mirror Sydney, inspired by psychogeography, Vanessa Berry embarks on “drifts” through inauspicious Sydney – hollowed-out factory districts, heedless highways and all-but-forgotten suburban arcades. She anatomises the contents of a lost-property office, and visits sites associated with elephants. The dreamy, daggy landmarks are features of a more “introspective” city than you’d find in the travel guides – or even on the street, unless tipped off by Berry’s slightly cockeyed curiosity. She also creates hand-drawn mumblecore maps that she likens to star charts, 'revealing places as constellations rather than the linear pathways of the written word'.' (Introduction)

Vanessa Berry’s Mirror Sydney : An Atlas of Reflections Gemma Blackwood , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Overland [Online] , November 2017;

'Vanessa Berry’s new book Mirror Sydney: An Atlas of Reflections (Giramondo, 2017) is a travel guidebook of sorts: writing on Sydney that outlines overlooked places far distant to the dazzling tourist promenades that appear in The Lonely Planet and other popular collections. But this highly rewarding collection of essays (with accompanying illustrations) also transcends the panegyrical tone of much city writing, managing to examine the confronting politics of urban space while also thoughtfully re-imagining the contemporary act of memoir-writing. As the title transparently intimates, this is a book that reflects in a philosophical sense as well as ‘through the looking glass’.' (Introduction)

Evolving City of Broken Dreams Louis Nowra , 2017 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 18 November 2017; (p. 25)

'We may be the most urbanised nation on earth, but for some strange reason we seem to think the bush still defines us. Whereas London­, Berlin or New York are celebrated by writers and urban explorers in the guise of flaneurs or psychogeographers such as Charles Baudelaire, or contemporaries such as Englishman Iain Sinclair, Australian authors — except crime writers — have no such tradition.' (Introduction)

Best Books of 2017 #1 FL , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 23 December- 26 January 2018;

— Review of Mirror Sydney Vanessa Berry , 2017 selected work essay

'In Mirror Sydney, inspired by psychogeography, Vanessa Berry embarks on “drifts” through inauspicious Sydney – hollowed-out factory districts, heedless highways and all-but-forgotten suburban arcades. She anatomises the contents of a lost-property office, and visits sites associated with elephants. The dreamy, daggy landmarks are features of a more “introspective” city than you’d find in the travel guides – or even on the street, unless tipped off by Berry’s slightly cockeyed curiosity. She also creates hand-drawn mumblecore maps that she likens to star charts, 'revealing places as constellations rather than the linear pathways of the written word'.' (Introduction)

Evolving City of Broken Dreams Louis Nowra , 2017 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 18 November 2017; (p. 25)

'We may be the most urbanised nation on earth, but for some strange reason we seem to think the bush still defines us. Whereas London­, Berlin or New York are celebrated by writers and urban explorers in the guise of flaneurs or psychogeographers such as Charles Baudelaire, or contemporaries such as Englishman Iain Sinclair, Australian authors — except crime writers — have no such tradition.' (Introduction)

Palimpsest Lucas Thompson , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , January–February no. 398 2018; (p. 50)

'Cities are essentially palimpsests, layered with overlapping lives, structures, and stories. Constantly in flux, each city is a sprawling and unwieldy text that is continually being rewritten. In Mirror Sydney, Vanessa Berry peels back many of the Harbour City’s layers, to reveal a tangle of hidden meanings and bygone inhabitants. Her book takes us on an eccentric journey through forgotten parts of the city’s history, suburbs, and architecture, while mounting a persuasive argument for paying closer attention to our surrounds.' (Introduction)

Vanessa Berry’s Mirror Sydney : An Atlas of Reflections Gemma Blackwood , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Overland [Online] , November 2017;

'Vanessa Berry’s new book Mirror Sydney: An Atlas of Reflections (Giramondo, 2017) is a travel guidebook of sorts: writing on Sydney that outlines overlooked places far distant to the dazzling tourist promenades that appear in The Lonely Planet and other popular collections. But this highly rewarding collection of essays (with accompanying illustrations) also transcends the panegyrical tone of much city writing, managing to examine the confronting politics of urban space while also thoughtfully re-imagining the contemporary act of memoir-writing. As the title transparently intimates, this is a book that reflects in a philosophical sense as well as ‘through the looking glass’.' (Introduction)

Last amended 7 Sep 2018 09:50:07
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