Tag Archives: Cottesloe Civic Centre

At First Sight by The Stems (1987)

Some more music from an old Perth band with a music clip that features scenes from WA from long ago. This clip includes many scenes from the grounds of the unforgettable Cottesloe Civic Centre. This place is connected to my synaesthesia because when I think of the concept of Charles Darwin (the biologist who gave us the theory of evolution) I see, as though it is an automatically appearing illustration or backdrop for the concept, particular scenes of the lower level of the grounds of this Civic Centre, the level that is, and has been for many years, a children’s playground. At one point in this music clip the band members are shown spinning around on the large metal roundabout that used to be found in this playground. I don’t think it has been there for a long time, as it did offer as many opportunities for serious injury as it did for fun. Lawyers design children’s playgrounds these days.

The Charles Darwin thing is fairly complex. Different scenes of this area are linked with different aspects of Darwin’s life. The concept of Darwin being a failed clergyman (and was he also a failed doctor?) while coming from an aristocratic family, leaving him with the opportunity to pursue a much more original, free-thinking, productive, influential and brilliant life triggers the vision of the scene around one of the stairways that lead down to this lower level of the civic centre grounds, as seen from the playground level. The concept of the death of one of the much-loved children of Charles Darwin and Darwin’s reflections on that sad event evokes a vision of the stairway that goes from the lower playground level to a street below, Overton Gardens, as viewed from the playground level.

I could speculate about why in my mind these concepts and these scenes have become wedded. It is easy to see how a person who has not travelled overseas might unconsciously view the grounds of the Cottesloe Civic Centre as a place to house the spirit of Charles Darwin. This place is like a little taste of living like an English Victorian aristocrat, with a grand estate on stunningly landscaped grounds. This is why it is an incredibly popular choice as a wedding venue. But why is Charles down in the kids’ playground? Did Charles Darwin ever really grow up? Did he ever get a real job? One could perhaps argue that his brilliant intellectual adventures were exploratory and unstructured and free like child’s play. Perhaps the stairs leading down to the playground symbolize Darwin’s descent to a lower level of the social ladder after failing to meet expectations regarding his career as an adult. Perhaps the stairway leading down from the children’s playground to exiting the civic centre grounds altogether is a suitable symbol for the death of a child. I know that I never consciously chose these symbols, and these neurological connections formed in a natural process.

At First Sight by The Stems (1986)