Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Downing Centre

The Downing Centre, was originally constructed in 1908 as retail premises for Mark Foys. It was originally a two storey building designed by Arthur Anderson of the architectural firm Mccredie & Anderson. In 1924, Spain Cosh & Epslin Architects in consultation with Ross & Rowe Architects were paid to design eight alterations and additions. The building was originally intended to cover the whole block but was not completed. It is now an 8 storey building with portions of the original building remaining intact. The façade employs the classical orders using white bricks with yellow faience work to the sills and cornices. Two corner towers with yellow pinnacles surmount the building. Art Nouveau influences are evident in the external detailing. Mark Foys closed in 1980 and was taken over by Grace Bros until who traded there until 1983. The building was converted for use as Courts in 1985 and is listed on the Register of the National Estate.

The Downing Centre is a major courthouse complex in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It features state government courts; Local Courts, the District Court of New South Wales and a law library known as the Downing Centre Library. It forms part of the Department of Attorney General and Justice, and as such houses court services and Sheriffs offices.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Taphophile Tragics

Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Bukhara, Uzbekistan

The Ismail Samani Mausoleum was built in the 10th century to house the tombs of Ismail Samani, founder of the Samanid Dynasty, as well as his father and grandson.  The walls are so thick and well-built that the mausoleum has never needed significant repair in the 1100 years it has stood here.

This mausoleum in Samani Park, completed in 905, is the town's oldest Muslim monument and probably its sturdiest architecturally. Built for Ismail Samani (the Samanid dynasty's founder), his father and grandson, its intricate baked terracotta brickwork - which gradually changes 'personality' through the day as the shadows shift - disguises walls almost 2m thick, helping it survive without restoration (except of the spiked dome) for 11 centuries.

The Samanid mausoleum is located in the historical urban nucleus of the city of Bukhara, in a park laid out on the site of an ancient cemetery. This mausoleum, one of the most esteemed sights of Central Asian architecture, was built in the 9th (10th) century (between 892 and 943) as the resting-place of Ismail Samani - a powerful and influential amir of the Samanid dynasty, one of the Persian dynasty to rule in Central Asia, which held the city in the 9th and 10th centuries. Although in the first instance the Samanids were Governors of Khorasan and Transoxiana under the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliphate, the dynasty soon established virtual independence from Baghdad. For many years the lower part of the mausoleum remained under a two-meter high layer of sediment. Now the foundation has been cleared of these obstacles and the mausoleum, fully restored, is open for observation from all sides as was initially planned by the builders. The monument marks a new era in the development of Central Asian architecture, which was revived after the Arab conquest of the region. The architects continued to use an ancient tradition of baked brick construction, but to a much higher standard than had been seen before. The construction and artistic details of the brickwork are still enormously impressive, and display traditional features dating back to pre-Islamic culture. The mausoleum of Pakistan's founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah--Mazar-e-Quaid is modeled after this structure.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Hidden Places

This attractive little garden is only for those privileged enough to gain entry to Parliament House. It sits atop, and looks down on, the gallery area between the old and new buildings which contains the fountain and exhibition space. You can see its rooftop location in the photo below taken a few years ago from a nearby building which was open during "Sydney Open". I think you can visit the roof garden as part of the free tour of Parliament House. I've worked in the building in the past and, this time, was making a delivery to one of the offices and realised that once you got through security you could also access the garden.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Model: Olivia

I only got one good one of Olivia, she was doing the fashion model thing and moving too quickly for me.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Taphophile Tragics

Apakh Hoja Tomb, Kashgar, Xinjiang region, far western China

In my humble opinion China gets much more interesting the further west you go. Not only does the landscape change to Central Asian hills and desert, the people and culture are completely different to the Han east. You're in Uighur country, a Muslim minority group whose culture the majority Han are doing their best to eradicate by relocating Han to the area in great numbers. I'd like to see it become East Turkestan but that will never happen.

East Turkestan (also Eastern Turkistan, Chinese Turkestan, and other variants) is a controversial political term with multiple meanings depending on context and usage. Historically, the term was invented by Russian Turkologists in the 19th century to replace the term Chinese Turkestan, which referred to the Tarim Basin in the southwestern part of Xinjiang province of the Qing Dynasty. The medieval Arab toponym "Turkestan" and its derivatives were not used by the local population of the greater region, and China had its own name for an overlapping area since the Han Dynasty as Xiyu, with the parts controlled by China termed Xinjiang from the 18th century onward. The historical Uyghur name is Qurighar (西域; today, Qurighar Uyghur is co-used with Shinjang Uyghur by Uyghurs).

Starting in the 20th century, Uyghur separatists and their supporters used East Turkestan (or "Uyghurstan") as an appellation for the whole of Xinjiang, or for a future independent state in present-day Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. They reject the name of Xinjiang because of an allegedly Chinese perspective reflected in the name and prefer East Turkestan to emphasize connection to other westerly Turkic groups. However, even in nationalist writing, East Turkestan retained its older, more narrow geographical meaning. In China, the term has negative connotations because of its origins in European colonialism and present use by militant groups. The government of China actively discourages its use.

That's enough politics. Back to the history of the mausoleum. This quaint text is taken from a Chinese tour company's website.

Apakh Hoja Tomb (or Xiangfei Tomb), 5 kms northeast of Kashgar, an important cultural unit protected by the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. As a tomb group of the descendants of an Islamic missionary, it was built around 1640. The legend has it that seventy-two persons in all of five generations of the same family were buried in the tomb.

The first generation buried here was Yusuf Hoja who was a celebrated Islam missionary. Abakh Khoja, Apak Khoja, or more properly, a great-grandson of the famous Naqshbandi Sufi teacher, Ahmad Kasani (1461 - 1542) (also known as 'the Great Master'), was a religious and political leader in Kashgaria (in modern-day southern Xinjiang). Afaq Khoja was revered as a Sufi teacher in his own right. Among some Uyghur Muslims, he was considered a sayid, who is a relative of the prophet Muhammad.

Afaq Khoja's influence spread far outside of Xinjiang. From 1671-72, he was preaching in Gansu (which then included parts of modern Qinghai province), where his father Muhammad Yusuf had preached before. On that tour, he visited Xining (today's Qinghai province), Lintao, and Hezhou (now Linxia), and was said to convert some Hui and many Salars there to Naqshbandi Sufism.

Accoridng to a legend, Iparhan, granddaughter of Apak Khoja was given to emperor Qianlong as concubine. She was called Xiangfei ( fragrant Imperial Concubine in Chinese) because of the rich delicate fragrance of flower sent forth by her body. After she died for no acclimatization, her remains was escorted back to Kashgar and was buried in the Apak Hoja Tomb. Thus 'the Xiangfei Tomb' was another name the tomb called. But the textual fact is that Xiangfei was actually buried in the East Tombs of the Qing Dynasty in Zunhua County, Hebei Province after she died. There was only her cenotaph in Kashgar Abakh Hoja Tomb group.

The tomb is a group of beautiful and magnificent buildings including the Tomb's Hall, the Doctrine Teaching Hall, the Grand mosque,smaal Mosque beside the gate,the gate tower, a pond and archard. The Tomb's Hall, with a domeshaped top of seventeen meters in diameter and covered with green glazed tiles outside, is twenty-six meters high and thirty-nine meters long at the base. The hall is high, spacious and columnless.

Inside the hall, there is a high terrace on which the tombs are arranged. All the tombs are built of glazed bricks with very beautiful patterns of elegant. Grand mosque is in the west part of the tomb, Ayitijiayi by name, is the place where the Muslim believers conduct service on big days. The Lesser Hall of Prayer and the gate tower are outmost buildings decorated with colorful paintings and elegant brick carvings. Outside the tomb there is a crystal-clear pond lined by tall trees making the place pleasantly quiet and beautiful.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Models: Maria and Nick

I've done a little natural light portraiture before but not with proper reflectors and real models. It was fun and a good learning experience. These two were taken at the beginning of the day before I got a handle on what I was doing.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Taphophile Tragics

Yungay is in the mountains north of Huaraz, which is north of Lima in Peru. It's a place I knew nothing about but was a stop on a day trip out of Huaraz to visit a couple of lakes. Its an very moving place, and was extremely atmospheric on a grey, overcast day.

On May 31, 1970 a debris avalanche caused by the 1970 Ancash earthquake buried the whole town, killing 25,000 people. The earthquake triggered an unstable mass of glacial ice about 800 meters across at the top of Nevado Huascarán to fall. More than 50 million cubic meters of debris slid approximately 15 kilometers downhill at an angle of about 14 degrees. Speeds between 200 km/h to 400 km/h were achieved. Only 92 people survived, most of whom were in the cemetery and stadium at the time of the earthquake, as these zones were the highest in town.

 Many people now come to Yungay just to visit the Campo Santo just before the current Yungay if you come from Huaraz. This is the site of the old Yungay which has been left untouched after the disaster and is therefore a huge cemetery. You can see some leftovers of the old church and of the palm trees that used to be on the Plaza de Armas. Roses were planted at the site. The Peruvian government has forbidden excavation in the area where the old town of Yungay is buried, declaring it a national cemetery. The current town was rebuilt 1500 meters north of the destroyed city.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Mays Lane

Mays Lane at St Peters has a name for graffiti art. I was disappointed. A lot of it I consider tagging and overall it was a bit of a mess. Seemed to be a case of "if it doesn't move slap paint on it". A lot of residents are obviously fed up with it as well. A lot of properties had signs asking people not to paint there. There were some that I liked and I'll show you these during the week.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Monochome Weekend - Chinese New Year Parade (6)

I think he was also part of the Chengdu contingent.

For more monochrome madness, visit Dragonstar's Weekend in Black and White.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Chinese New Year Parade (5) - Pandas

Dressing the panda.

The large Chengdu contingent were having a great time.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Sky Watch Friday - Chinese New Year Parade (4)

A dragon snakes (dragons?) its way up the Town Hall. Not a great shot but I was looking over my shoulder and between heads in the crowd.

For more Sky Watch from around the world, drop in to the home of Sky Watch Friday.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Chinese New Year Parade (3) - Dancing Zookeepers

I first saw this one earlier in the week parked beside my local railway station and wondered what it was and what on earth it was doing there.

Turns out its Taronga Zoo's Komodo Dragon and it was followed in the parade by dancing zookeepers.