Sunday, September 5, 2021

Father’s Day Revisited


Some of you may remember my post on Father’s Day 2020, featuring this photograph of my very young self snapped at a then unknown location in central Melbourne.

This is an excerpt from the original post:

Recently I made the most wonderful discovery. Hovering in the top left-hand corner, barely in the picture plane, is the profile of my late father, Ron Klein. Evidently his head was concealed by the frame that usually houses the photo. He died suddenly in 1978, when I was still living in London. It’s as if he’s been watching over me all these years and I never knew it. Well, I do now. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. 

At the time, I posted the photo on social media, asking if anyone recognised its location. It dates from around the mid-1950s and I’m standing outside what looks like an art gallery, which you could say is something of a portent. Several people helpfully weighed in with interesting suggestions, but only gallery director Stephen McLaughlan was able come to my rescue. I’ve since become aware of Stephen’s phenomenal knowledge of Melbourne’s architecture, so it’s not surprising he was the one to answer the question that has perplexed me for years. The building is one of Melbourne’s most beautiful and historically significant - the Block Arcade,* pictured below.

From late 2007 to mid 2011, I rented a studio only minutes away, on the top floor of the fine, but now decidedly dilapidated City of Melbourne Building that stands on the corner of Elizabeth and Little Collins Streets (see below) and used to cut through the Block Arcade all the time. 

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery in the iconic Nicholas Building on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane is also very close by. In fact, my current exhibition still hangs in the gallery, albeit in lockdown.

Somehow I never got around to publishing a follow-up post about the solution to the mystery location, and with Father’s Day upon us once more, now seems like a good time, if a tad belated. Recently I did an online search for a high resolution shot of the Block Arcade and found the vintage photo second from top on the State Library of Victoria website. Click on the image for an enlarged view.

My partner, Shane Jones, wishes he’d met you, Dad. I wish you’d met too. In fact, I wish all the Jones family had gotten to know you - and vice-versa. After all these years, I still miss you. Happy Father’s Day.

*The State Library of Victoria is duly acknowledged as the source of the photograph of the Block Arcade. There are no copyright restrictions on the work and its creator is unknown. The following information is from the SLV’s website:
Title: The Block Arcade, 280-286 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, ca. 1930-1939.
Contents/Summary: The Block Arcade on north side of Collins Street, between Elizabeth Street and Swanston Street. Window displays for Kodak and Singer Sewing Machines.
Description: 1 photographic print, gelatin silver, 26 x 21 cm. approx.

Photo credit for the City of Melbourne Building: Deborah Klein.