Located just around the corner from the grand Westfield Bondi Junction is the humble Waverley Library. Whilst most would visit it either for pre-examination study (read social centre for uniformed teenagers), or to recapture a sense of their previous lives by borrowing books in their first language, I came here for the culture.
Waverley Library showcases local art throughout the year and is a fantastic place to view Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs beach culture in a quiet manner without the masses. At the current exhibition, most of the photographs would have been taken purely from the heart and not for the sake of exhibition in a prime location. This provides the viewer an insight into what the locals see and do and what is important to them and their lives.
The exhibition included local sights, from Bondi to Dover Heights, kids and surfboards, swimming and cricket. Drastic angels were photographed against the purple sky in the cemetery as well as locals playing the guitar. Sunsets and sunrises, flowers and birds were depicted in a way that would touch a local’s heart and tell a story to a foreigner.
Upstairs holds more permanent artworks as well as what is left of the beautiful Bondi Mermaid. The bronzed depiction of Miss Australia Surf 1959, Jan Carmody, sits at the top of the stairs, peering over the studious and the curious. Originally perched on top of the Big Rock in northern Bondi Beach, Jan the Bondi Mermaid had a tumultuous lifespan including ending up at the School of Engineering, Sydney University as part of a student prank only one month after her installation in 1960 and losing her mate Lynette the Bondi Mermaid to heavy seas in 1974. In the process Jan lost an arm, her tail and even herself, having to be stored in a Council Depot until she resurfaced in the late 1980s.
Jan has been preserved in Waverley Library ever since, so make sure you wave her hello next time you want to experience Bondi at it’s best.