Glebe sculptor Hilik Mirankar in his loungeroom.

Glebe sculptor Hilik Mirankar in his loungeroom.

Hilik Mirankar in his Glebe studio

Hilik Mirankar in his Glebe studio with work in progress.

Just before Christmas I had the pleasure of visiting the home of Glebe sculptor Hilik Mirankar & his wife Anna Couani, also an artist.

Glebe streetscape - incredibly leafy despite the high density living & narrow streets.

Glebe streetscape – incredibly leafy despite the high density living & narrow streets.

Glebe has become much greener & leafier over the last couple of decades with tall street trees everywhere, including busy Glebe Point Road.  I am always amazed what the City of Sydney Council has done along here to improve amenity & bring beauty to this long stretch of shops & housing.

Glebe has always had large & beautiful street trees & they were much a part of my young adult life when I moved to the inner west.  It is wonderful to see that many of the street trees are still here, be they Figs or Camphor laurels.

These days I don’t visit Glebe often, so it was interesting to drive through some back streets & look at the streetscape.  For me it is hard to comprehend why an area that is so dense with housing is so much greener than where I live & which has much more room for street trees than does Glebe.

Anyway, we found Queen Street & parked on the corner opposite an old pub, ‘The Friend in Hand.’  It did look a friendly place with people gathered on the footpath enjoying a drink in the afternoon sun.  The corner had a large Fig tree, plus what I think was a large mature Chinese hackberry (Celtis sinensis) gracing the car park.  Queen Street itself has very narrow footpaths, so there is no room for street trees.

One of Hilik's sculptures on a front porch in Queen Street

One of Hilik’s sculptures on a front porch in Queen Street

The street has become a public art gallery as almost every porch of the old terraces has at least one of Hilik’s wooden sculptures on display.  Many display multiple sculptures, either standing on the porch itself or hanging from the front of the building.   The corner of Queen Street also has a large sculpture.

Even the power poles have quirky art nailed or chained to them.  Some poles have wooden boxes filled with hardy plants to add green to the street.  Power pole art & plants is something I’d like to see popping up everywhere.

It’s quite impressive & exciting to wander down the street & discover all sorts of sculptures.  Walk Queen Street twice & you see more art that you didn’t notice the first time.

The City of Sydney Council calls this ‘Queen Street Gallery’ & has included it in their ‘What’s On’ program.  I think it is terrific that a street is called a Gallery.  Also terrific is the neighbourly relations where people have allowed Hilik’s artwork to be displayed on their property.

Inside Anna & Hilik’s terrace was a sight to behold.  Every space available was filled with Hilik’s sculptures, both big & small.  His wife Anna’s paintings were scattered in between.  Art is life in this home.

Hilik Mirankar's studio

A section of Hilik Mirankar’s studio

Hilik gave us a tour of his studio, which was filled with works in progress, as well as storing other wonderful pieces.

One of my favourite pieces was a spiral sculpted out of Acacia wood.  I was surprised just how beautiful this wood is.  The heartwood is a creamy yellowy-brown, while the outer part of the wood is a rick dark brown.

If you like working with wood keep a lookout for Acacia.  It may not look like much on the outside or until it has been treated with wax or oil, but when it has, it transforms & its real secrets are revealed.

I found it interesting to learn that Hilik has sourced most of his wood from local Councils who give him huge trunks of trees they are removing.  He can remember where each piece was sourced.  I like this as it gives another level of history to the art piece & it reminds me of ‘Wood from the Hood,’ which I wrote about here –

In the past Hilik has held onsite sculpture classes in parks for art students with trees that local councils have felled because of safety issues & he is interested in doing this again if the opportunity arises.

If you get a chance it is well worth visiting Queen Street.  The sculptures are very interesting & there is a great view of the city skyline that I suspect will be lost to development in the near future.

Around two years ago a huge area on Cowper Street from the Queen Street corner all the way to Bay Street was cleared of housing to make ready for high-rise development.  Apparently the land was taken right back to the sandstone.  In that time soil has blown in & Casuarina trees, grasses & reeds have seeded themselves.  Ponds have also formed from the rain or storm water & a few Australia White Ibis have moved in.  Lovely posters around this piece of land say – “Ibis Sanctuary.”  Although it will not last long, I think it is great that someone sees this opportunistic inhabitation by nature as a good thing.

The ponds were full when I was there & Ibis were rollicking in the water having a good wash.  Most people don’t know that Ibis like to wash.  It’s just lack of deep enough unsalted water that prevents them from doing so.

Lovely historic terraces, tall flowering street trees, shade, a few Ibis & a fantastic range of sculptures make this an interesting visit one sunny afternoon & it is certainly a walk I would take visitors from overseas.  There is even a friendly pub on the corner to grab a bite to eat or a drink if the mood takes you.  I personally was thrilled to see that the quirkiness of Glebe is alive & well.  So is its beauty.

You can learn more about Hilik Mirankar’s art here –

Hilik Mirankar sculpture Queen Street Glebe

Hilik Mirankar sculpture Queen Street Glebe

More of Hilik's sculptures in a Quuen Street front porch

More of Hilik’s sculptures in a Queen Street front porch

Another front porch in Queen Street

Another front porch in Queen Street

Another Quuen Street porch

Another Queen Street porch

Another group of Hilik;s sculptures

Another group of Hilik;s sculptures

You can understand why this street is called a Gallery

You can understand why this street is called a Gallery


Don't forget to look up.

Don’t forget to look up.

Ibis Sanctuary poster

Ibis Sanctuary poster almost hidden by tree shadows.  There are more of these posters, which thankfully have been left untouched by taggers.

The unofficial Ibis Sanctuary.

The unofficial Ibis Sanctuary with a great viw of the city.  Give it ten years & this site will have naturally developed into a great park.