at Kew Depot (in the 1970s)

As mentioned in the previous post I was stationed at the Kew Depot when I was working on the trams and studying at Photography Studies College. This was in the mid-to late 1970s, a period when the LNP Coalition under Malcolm Fraser was in power and taking a confrontational approach to the management of industrial matters, implementing an inflation-first approach (contributing to unemployment), repressive labour laws, and in 1982 a national wage freeze. 

Whilst based at Kew Depot I made the odd portrait of some of the people who were also at the depot when they worked on the trams.

No 840, Kew Depot

These photos would have been taken whilst I was either waiting to start my shift or, more likely, when I was on a break during one of my shifts.

Melbourne tramway snapshots

The first snapshot section of The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia will start with some of the tramway photos. These will build around this one in the previous post, and they will be based on some more of the pictures made in the Kew Depot.

An example:

George, Kew Depot, Kew

The above picture is inside the operational office. This is where you waited until the tram you were working on stopped outside and walked to it to start your shift.

No 4607, Kew Depot

I was based at the Kew Depot when I worked on the tramways. It was all shift work. I worked the early morning (5am start) and the evening (5pm start) shift on alternate weeks rather the broken shifts at the commuter peak in the morning and evenings. I usually walked to work from Fitzroy in the morning.

This kind of shift made me quite tired. I did it so that I could attend the part time courses at the Photography Studies College and take photos during the day for the courses.

Melbourne snapshots

As mentioned in an earlier post of this blog the first section of The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia consists of street photography or snapshots that were made made in Melbourne and Adelaide with 35mm cameras and black and white film. This section has been reframed as part of a snapshot culture or snapshot aesthetic and it leads into the second Bowden section.

In the 1970s, when the American cultural invasion was in full swing, I was living in Fitzroy, working on the Melbourne Trams as a conductor. and studying at Photographic Studies College. Whilst I was working at the Kew Depot I made a few photos of the people I worked with. This is one:

2148, Kew Depot, Melbourne 1976

As is well known the early 1970s saw a revitalisation of art photography in Australia, mirroring similar developments in the US and Britain. This ‘photo boom’, as it is known, witnessed the establishment of a number of specialist galleries with curators dedicated to photography; the establishment of the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney; and the development of photography courses in Australian art schools.

This ‘photo boom’ was part of the broadening of art history in the sense of the shift from art history’s Eurocentric approach to Australian art in the departments of art history as well in the art galleries. Before the 1960s, which saw the first widely accessible book, Bernard Smith’s Australian Painting 1788-1960, there was scarcely any general awareness of Australian art.

The River Torrens (Karrawirra Parri) near Bowden

When going through my large format archives the other day I came across some images I’d made of the River Torrens (Karrawirra Parri) as it flowed through the Adelaide Parklands near Coopers Brewery on the corner of Port Rd and Park Terrace.

I often wandered around this section of the parklands when I was living in Bowden, as it was just a few minutes walk from the studio in Gibson St, and so much quicker to access than the seaside beaches or Port Adelaide.

River Torrens (Karrawirra Parri) at West End.

I would often walk Fiche, my standard poodle, there in the morning or in the afternoon. We would usually walk through Park 27A (now known as the John E. Brown Park) across the Railway Bridge, to the weir at the base of Torrens Lake. Sometimes we would skirt around the Adelaide Gaol on our way to the Morphett St Bridge, Elder Park and the Festival Centre.

Roadtrips: Andamooka

As noted in some of the earlier posts in this blog the third section of The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia consists of the various road trips of different kinds whilst I was living in Bowden, then Ovingham, and finally in Adelaide.

The mini trips include those around the edge of Adelaide. These include those to the suburban beaches to escape the summer heat in Bowden, explorations around Port Adelaide, trips to the Mt Lofty Ranges, then to Victor Harbor (and Kangaroo Island). The longer roadtrips were to the South Australian Mallee and the mid-north, and those along the River Murray to Melbourne and the east coast of Australia.

The last road trip, which ends the third section, is the trip that Suzanne and I made in 2000-2001 to Andamooka in the northern part of South Australia.

house, Andamooka, 2001

A colour version of this picture of this shelter or house can be seen here on my ‘On the Road’ Tumblr blog.

The 1990’s: turning to colour

I’ve started working on the Bowden Archives book, though in a casual way as I’m slowly easing myself into an earlier draft of the book. The current work so far has primarily been picking up the old texts, starting to rework them into some sort of rough shape, and flicking through my archives.

A initial draft of the Preface has been written, as has an early draft of the text for the first section, which consists of street photography images. In the 70s and 80s I was using a Leica M-4 with black and white film as my main walkabout camera, and the text for this section is on, and briefly about, a snapshot culture. I have basically re-defined the street photography that I did as snapshots, or as photos belonging to the snapshot culture.

The third section of the book is tentatively titled ‘road trips’. It will be thinner than the other two sections, but it will point towards my future photography in the first decade of the 21st century. At this stage I have no idea what kind of text I am going to write for this part of the book.

Wetlands, Kangaroo Island, SA 1995

By the 1990s I no longer had a wet darkroom and I was busy finishing my PhD in philosophy at Flinders University of South Australia. Photography was on the back burner and the photography that I did in the 1990s was basically done whilst Suzanne and I went on various holidays and road trips. The above photos was on one trip to Kangaroo Island, which I’d never been to.

An update on the Bowden project

In this post in 2016 I mentioned that I had started to work on the Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia book. In two other posts in 2017 about the Adelaide Art Photographers 1970-2000 book, I indicated that a few of my archival non-Bowden photos would form a portfolio in the book. That book has now been published by Moon Arrow Press in Adelaide.

This leaves the Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia project to be completed as a book. It will have 3 sections. The first one is on street photography in Melbourne (circa 1977-9) after I’d finishing studying at the Photography Studies College and snapshots in Adelaide. The middle section will consist of the Bowden photographs. The third section includes photographs made on various road trips around and outside of Adelaide.

The picture below would be part of the third section, if it makes the cut:

Silo, Crystal Book, South Australia, 1986

I have pulled the Bowden project from being published by Wakefield Press, who will now be publishing the Tasmanian Elegies project. The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia book will be published by Moon Arrow Press in 2021.