In a quiet corner of the Australian Museum, far from the gaping crowds clustering about the infamous idol, I encountered a queer, unsettling image. Part of the same exhibition of Pacific mysteries, it was a crudely rendered oil painting of a ship in full sail, with a glorious rainbow dominating the sky above. It was labelled ‘The Ascent’ and originated in New Zealand in the last years of the old century.
The painting disturbed me greatly, with a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. it took me some time to realise exactly the reason why …
DAZ Studio and Photoshop. Click image for larger version.
Some of you will know Erica Vandeerzee’s famous statue of the Blue Angel in Federation Park, Kings Cross. The sculpture is dedicated to the 15 unidentified victims of serial killer Joseph ‘Cutter’ Ekin, the Darlinghurst Reaper, the Bastard from the Bush, who terrorised inner Sydney over three bloody months in 1909.
The Blue Angel bears the haunting inscription, ‘We shall ascend together’. It was carved by Vandeerzee in 1919 of unique Kimberley marble mined from an offshore reef.
Scorned by the churches, the Blue Angel has nonetheless become a guardian symbol of Sydney, patroness of the battler, the downtrodden, and the happy-go-lucky. Sometimes she is called Pacificus, the Guardian of the Harbour.
The Turn of Midnight Waters, Briefing 4: The Blue Angel
Razorhurst, Gunhurst, Bottlehurst, Dopehurst – it used to be Darlinghurst, one of the finest quarters of a rich and beautiful city; to-day it is a plague-spot, where the sporn of the gutter grow and fatten on official apathy. By day it shelters in its alleys, in its dens, the Underworld people. At night, it looses them to prey on property, decency & virtue, & to fight one another for division of spoils. Truth, 23 September 1928.
Razorhurst, Sydney, 1926. That wild and haunted city. The Turn of Midnight Waters. Rendered in DAZ Studio and Photoshop. Click for full size image.
‘The crouching image with its cuttlefish head, dragon body, scaly wings, and hieroglyphed pedestal, was preserved in the Museum at Hyde Park; and I studied it long and well, finding it a thing of balefully exquisite workmanship, and with the same utter mystery, terrible antiquity, and unearthly strangeness of material which I had noted in Legrasse’s smaller specimen. Geologists, the curator told me, had found it a monstrous puzzle; for they vowed that the world held no rock like it. Then I thought… about the primal Great Ones: ‘They had come from the stars, and had brought Their images with Them.’
H.P. Lovecraft, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’.
Draft render for a Lovecraftian roleplaying project, DAZ Studio and Photoshop. (Click for full size image).