ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK — Sydney has its ghost lines, those mysterious details and faded memories that underpin its contemporary physicality but which are still visible to anyone with a keen eye and a curiosity to reconstruct and re-imagine the past. This engaging book follows the tracks of vanished and vanishing histories, particularly in the ordinary and overlooked suburbs, and celebrates both Indigenous and European landscape. Decorated with idiosyncratic maps, this is a book any Sydneysider would enjoy for its recognition of place, any visitor for the chance to peer beneath and behind the facades – in short, for anyone who wants to see the details rather than the distractions! Lindy Jones
Through delicately wrought essays and hand-drawn illustrated maps, Mirror Sydney charts an alternative view of the harbour city, to show a place of suburban mysteries, hidden stories, and anachronistic sites.
Vanessa Berry, one of Australia's most acute observers of the urban landscape, casts an attentive eye upon overlooked, odd, and seemingly mundane places, tracing their connections and their significance to the city as a whole. As development shadows every aspect of the city's life, Mirror Sydney documents, in a very personal way, the fast-vanishing traces of the recent past, finding new meaning in minor landmarks and uncelebrated sites.
From abandoned amusement parks to mysterious traffic islands; from the railway lost-property office to the elephant buried in Sydney Park; and from the eccentric murals of the Domain's underground walkway to the remnants of the ill-fated monorail, Berry's curious gaze discovers an alternative and eccentric, little-known city.
Berry's writing balances the low-key iconoclasm of the punk and indie music scenes with the philosophical urban investigations of Walter Benjamin and Robert Walser. Her unique style of map illustration was developed through many years making zines and artworks, collaging detailed line drawings with text from typewriters and Letraset.