Portrait by Louisa West

Meet my big brother Markus. The original Bower Bird. For as long as I can remember he has had an obsession with music and all things associated. Some of my favourite memories have been at his house flicking through his enormous vinyl collection, taking it in turns choosing what to put on next. His records are his well known obsession, yet behind closed doors a far bigger Bower behaviour has been brewing. It is a collection to which I had always been aware of, yet never knew of it’s true extent.

Band t-shirts, 116 of them to be precise (well at least at last count).

This weeks post starts me off on my quest to find similar Bowerbirds, and I really didn’t have to look too far from the nest.

Can you remember your first band tshirt? When was it and does it still exist?

When I was in grade three or four my brother and I would buy AC/DC iron on transfers and black bonds tshirts and make our own. I think that the first proper tshirt that I bought was a Red Hot Chilli Peppers one back in 1991, I wore it to death and then got rid of it.

Which T-shirt is your favourite and why?

I think the green Stereolab t-shirt would be one of my favourites. I got it the first time I saw them play at the Forum in the late 90’s, they are one of my all time favourite bands. I tend to buy shirts at gigs and so they serve as reminders of those shows.

Which is the rarest/most collectable?

I’m not really sure if any of them are collectables as such, I guess some of the local (Ballarat) band shirts are pretty rare, and t-shirts such as the ‘Epicure’ tie died t-shirts were all different so are one of a kind.

Have you worn all of the t-shirts or have some remained unworn?

I have worn all of them over the years, there are quite a few that have lost shape, or are too big or small that I keep in vacuum sealed bags as I can’t part with them. I work in a record shop so wear band t-shirts pretty much every day.

Do you have ambitions to display the shirts (if so how?) or are they more of a personal collection?

I have thoughts of doing something with the ones that I no longer wear but love the designs. I have considered either making them into cushions or a quilt/bedspread (made out of many t-shirts).

Finally, at what point did your obsession become a collection or vice versa?

I have never really considered it an obsession, even when I got to the stage that I had far too many t-shirts to put in drawers. Because they are functional items of clothing I can use it as an excuse. I have started asking myself at gigs whether I really need to grab another shirt but if I like the designs I find it quite hard to resist.

All images by Louisa West



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