The masses move as one on weekday mornings. Thousands of caffeinated students traverse the streets between Redfern Station and the university’s Darlington entrance. To many, the Redfern Run is a chore, a barrier to getting to class on time, its narrow footpaths clogged with disillusioned students lumbering like extras from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. But the Redfern Run is no dystopia. It is a clash between history and post-modernity.
The innocuous terrace at 143 Lawson Street isn’t the headquarters of some strange cult, but rather the national archives of the Australian Esperanto Association. Invented in the late 19th Century, by a Polish doctor who hoped to create a universal linguistic babelfish, Esperanto is the world’s most widely spoken ‘constructed’ language. According to the Australian Esperanto Association, it is the easiest of all living languages to learn, combining French, Spanish and even Swahili. 143 Lawson Street is but a glimpse into this ‘strangajn’* and idealistic world.
Redfern is a spiritual heartland for Indigenous people in inner Sydney, home to the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. Eora roughly translates to “here”. The symbols of Redfern’s indigenous culture jostle with hypermodern apartment buildings, monuments to indigenous defiance against aggressive gentrification and rampant developmentalism. The clash between Redfern’s past and future, between Indigenous and white Australia is reflected in the eyes of the young Indigenous boy framed on Lawson Street.
Decades of wear and tear define the proud red brickwork, Roman-esque cast iron newel posts and dulled grandeur of Redfern Station, a heritage listed building dating back to 1884. The station is a window into an era when Redfern was Sydney’s industrial hub, long before plate glass and chrome dominated public sector architecture.
Sheffer Gallery on Lander St
38 Lander Street is home to the unassuming white walls of Sheffer Gallery. Once an art workshop, Sheffer has evolved with Redfern into a high-ceilinged display space of versatile and unpretentious art spanning everything from photographs of Bondi Streets to surrealist dreamscapes. Open Wednesday to Saturday between 11am and 6pm, the gallery represents the best of the arts – a stylish world accessible to all.
*Strangajn means strange in Esperanto.