A sense of nostalgia for a more laid-back time

21 Jan 2021

A sense of nostalgia for a more laid-back time

Continuing our look at selected works from the City Collection, Sarah Harper, Registration Officer tells us a little about a work she loves:

‘Refidex Street Directory. Those three words hold a map book’s worth of memories. The only way people could get around before Google maps, before GPS devices. The thing that my Mum insists I keep in my car “just in case”. The thing that faintly thunks and bumps around my car boot reminding me of a beforetime, as Google tells me to “turn left onto Smith Street”.

‘No need to even type an address into the smartphone now, we simply tell it where we want to go, and receive several route options with live traffic updates. This seems like light-years ahead of where I was 20 years ago, acting in my role as Navigator in the passenger seat, Refidex at the ready. Prepared for any high stakes congestion thrown my way, I could quickly flip to the next matching page when my finger found the edge of the map as it travelled along the tiny illustrated street. Memories.

‘If I ever opened the Refidex in my car, it would show me a vastly different Gold Coast to the city that is shown in Rebecca Ross’s collage of maps and text. Ross cuts, shifts, and affixes map pieces to reflect the personality of a city that is continuously growing and changing. As the lesser built-up map pieces recall a time past, so do the words Down by the Peaceful Sea Where the Atmosphere Is Exhilarating. The 1920s real-estate advertising slogan fills the work, blending in and out, with the few densely street-filled letters foreshadowing a transition from open airiness to coveted tightly packed properties.

‘Ross’s use of outdated pages from an outdated mode of wayfinding are suited to from whence they came, a more laid-back time with simpler street networks. Thank goodness technology has streamlined navigation for thoughtless ease, and that the passenger Navigator does not need to flick through a book substantially thicker!’

Rebecca Ross lives on Bundjalung country in Queensland’s Southern Gold Coast where she works as an artist, curator, academic and as Director of THE WALLS ART SPACE, an Artist Run Initiative that she founded in 2013.

You’ll be able to see this work, and many more from the City Collection, when we open the new HOTA Gallery on 8 May 2021.


Image credit:

Rebecca Ross, ‘Down by the Peaceful Sea Where the Atmosphere Is Exhilarating’, 2014, collage on board. Collection, Gallery at HOTA. Gifted by the citizens of the Gold Coast to future generations 2014 © Image courtesy of the artist.