Matt Jorgensen: The Chronicler of Stobie Pole art
Matt Jorgensen is thoughtful, almost reticent yet incredibly warm. Probably these traits make him sensitive to things that others take for granted - like stobie pole art. Stobie poles, unique to Australia, is a power line pole made of two steel joists held apart by a slab of concrete that was invented by Adelaide Electric Supply Company engineer James Cyril Stobie (1895–1953)- hence the name. For decades now, in Adelaide, these poles have been used by artists to paint beautiful, sometimes moving art and Matt is on the quest to chronicle them all.
An employee of the Horticulture department, Adelaide, Matt has been photographing stobie pole art and displaying them online through his popular Instagram profile, Carringbush69, which has more than 800 stobie pole art fans.
“I like to keep fit and enjoy walking or cycling. Lately, the routine was feeling a little monotonous, and that’s when I stumbled upon the idea of photographing stobie pole art,” says Matt.
The West Croydon resident uses his Samsung Galaxy S5 mobile to take pictures. And, in a bid to stay true to the artist’s work, Matt refrains from using any filters while posting the pictures on Instagram. Till date, Matt has chronicled more than 100 stobie poles.
His Instagram updates have gotten many stobie pole art fans excited. “I get private messages from those who follow my page. They often send me pictures of a pole they have come across or point out locations that have poles with interesting art, asking me to photograph those. It feels great to have initiated these conversations around stobie pole art. After all, these poles are one of the many things that make our city so unique,” says the Adelaidean.
Matt adds that chronicling these poles have not only helped him encounter some beautiful pieces of art but also enabled him to explore new places. “Every time I drive to a new place and I see a painted stobie pole, I get down from my car and take a picture. This hobby has helped me explore so many new places that would have otherwise missed my attention,” he says.
So how does one go about painting a pole? “For starters, those interested in painting a pole, need to get a permit from both the South Australian Power Corporation who is responsible for the maintenance of the poles and their local council. The rules are simple, no obscenities or offensive materials, and no advertising of commercial enterprises. It should be pure art. However, not many get a permit, and frankly, no one will come after you if you don’t get a permit. But that’s the right way to go about it,” Matt explains.
Matt has painted a couple of poles himself, and one pole is especially dear to him. “There is this one pole next to my home that I have been wanting to paint. I kept ruminating about what to do, but couldn’t think of anything,” he says. Interestingly, after much deliberations, Matt converted one side of the pole into an art gallery! “I thought it would give the opportunity to aspiring artists to show off their paintings. It is a small space, but we keep having artists put up their art every now and then,” says Matt.
Matt laughs off any serious future plans for his store pole picture collection. “I don’t have any intense plans. I will continue photographing till I have finished covering all poles in Adelaide or till I get bored. Whatever happens first,” he says with a chuckle.
Follow the chronicler on Instagram.