Melbourne Literary: Newspaper House Mosaic

Newspaper House

247 Collins Street, Melbourne

When the Herald and Weekly Times newspaper took possession of this 1884 building in 1932, it decided to commission a new facade. Artist Napier Waller took on the task of creating its gilded mosaic, inspired by Puck’s line “I’ll put a girdle round about the earth”, taken from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The three panels depict technological advances of the time. The glass mosaic is a rare example of decorative mosaics in Melbourne.

The newspaper has since moved its HQ to Southbank, but the mosaic on Collins Street – now Heritage listed – remains to mark its place in history, and remind us of how much more quickly we can put a girdle round about the earth with modern communications technology.

I’ve always like looking up from the opposite side of the road on Collins Street to see this piece. It’s stylish, but it also feels very confident and optimistic. It’s fun to take the time and look at the detail, not only on the main picture but on the inner sections beside the windows. It’s elegant and colourful and marries the notions of eloquence and story telling with broader worldwide communications.

I’ll admit, too, that I think the mischievous Puck would probably be having a field day on Twitter.

A few years ago, I created the Melbourne Literary app in celebration of Melbourne’s standing as a UNESCO City of Literature. I thought I’d share the occasional entry from it. It’s still available on both iTunes and Android, though it’s no longer updated.