The Bowden Archives: a draft

Thanks to the  generous help  of my friends, Judith Crispin, Stuart Murdoch, Paul Atkins at Atkins Photo Lab and Adam Dutkiewicz at Moon Arrow Press  I now have a first draft of the Bowden Archives: Memory,  Text,  Place. The pictures have  a narrative of their own now and some sort of coherence. That was something I could not do on my own, as I was too close to the pictures.

Warehouse, Bowden

The next step for me is to  follow Adam’s advice and do a dummy book  using  BookWright,  Blurb’s free desktop software, in order  to see what  the draft with images and text looks like as a book— as opposed to an idea in my head, or Stuart’s step—   rough prints on sheets of folded up paper to have an tactile object in my hand as opposed to images on a computer screen.   Continue reading

suburbia, northern Adelaide

In the previous post I mentioned that I would now concentrate on other images from the archives now that The Bowden Archives  has all the images it needs. I have recently been mulling over what to do with these non-Bowden images,  and I have decided that some will go into the Adelaide book whilst the others will go towards a new book project with Moon Arrow Press.

suburbia, northern Adelaide

This is the independent  press  run by Adam Jan Dutkiewicz and which published my Abstract Photography book in 2016.  Adam and I had a chat about this Adelaide photography book recently,   and we tentatively agreed  to start working on  it next year,  after  he finishes Volume 2 of the Visual History of the Royal South Australia Society of Arts book.    Continue reading

house, Encounter Bay

When I was living in Adelaide I would occasionally  travel  to Victor Harbor  for day trips in the Kombi.  I didn’t know that much about the Fleurieu Peninsula. I had heard that lots of people who grew top in Adelaide used to have their summer holidays on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The temperatures on this coast were lower than in Adelaide during the summer.

An archival photo of a house in Tabernacle Road,  Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor in  South Australia:

Tabernacle Rd,  Encounter Bay

These were only occasional cursory trips as I  didn’t find the township attractive or inviting. It was a small,   commercial centre for agriculture and day tourists. It became  quiet ugly during the peak tourist season.

 

Port Adelaide estuary

A talk with  a publisher about the material in the Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia becoming a book, it  was suggested that the proposed book would work  best as a book if it were  cut down to The Bowden Archives. The non-Bowden material will go to the Adelaide book, which has been on the back burner. The focus on Bowden tightens the manuscript,  which was starting to become unwieldy, and the simplification   makes the focus of The Bowden Archives more centred around history and place. I have spent the last week going through the 35mm negatives  of Bowden, and scanning the  best of them.

An example of the pictures in the initial  historical section  of the Adelaide book would be these two pictures of the Port River estuary in this post. The first picture of the mangroves are a reminder  that Port Adelaide  in the early 19th century was once basically a mangrove swamp and marsh surrounding the Port River.   Tides and drainage would continue to be major issues for residents until the first half of the 20th century.

mangroves, Port Adelaide

mangroves, Port Adelaide

The embankments along the river formed a basin within which the early residents worked and lived, but not without some fear. While the embankment kept the River at bay most of the time, the banks could be breached by a high tide. The basin shape meant that any water, even rain, pooled in the town with no drainage outlets.

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Cottages, Port Adelaide

The working class cottages  are an  interesting historical aspect of Port Adelaide was the working class cottages. They helped to both give  the Port its working class character,  and  to open a space where one is able to  see an  architectural history that reached backed to the early 20th century, if not the second part of the 19th century. The latter period was when the facilities of the Port were used to export and import supplies for colonial South Australia’s main industries–wheat, wool and mining.

cottage, Port Adelaide

cottage, Port Adelaide

Due to the lack of re-development Port Adelaide was  an historic precinct with  an impressive range of commercial and institutional buildings.   Many  of these have survived, resulting in Port Adelaide having one of the best concentrations of colonial buildings in South Australia. Continue reading

at Port Adelaide

One of the places that I used to visit and photograph was Port Adelaide and along the Port River estuary.   I was initially attracted to the architecture of the  industrial and commercial sites along and nearby the polluted Port River, as these signified the drivers of  modernity in South Australia. Both sides of the  Port Adelaide River  had been zoned   as  sites for  industrial expansion and the industry that was there used the river  as a drain.   In the 1980s large sections along the banks of the river were empty sites,  and they were, to all intents and purposes,  edge lands. These, however,  were not  empty urban landscapes evacuated of people.

silos + Holden, Port Adelaide

silos + Holden, Port Adelaide

Living in the suburbs, driving a Holden with free time at Port Adelaide for play is what  the historical experience of  being modern was in Adelaide. Those who were making  the cars, the washing machines and the TV sets could also buy them.

Photography, if you like,  was where art and the categories of  everyday life met. This stood in marked contrast to the avant-garde at the Experimental Art Foundation, which along with the major art institutions and the practitioners of a post modernist staged and fictive modes of photography  associated photography with a simplified and enfeebled realm of an outmoded pictorial style and a naive account of representation.

On their account realism, with its facile assumptions  of visual transparency and deceptive form of  natural representation  equated realism with positivism’s view that the pictures of the world are in some uncomplicated sense  reflections of the world.  Realism was deemed to be out of date and second rate—  it belonged to a dingy corner of a dusty Victorian cupboard—- rather than realism being viewed  as a process of critical recovery  and historical remembrance.  Continue reading

Bowden’s commercial architecture

I photographed a lot of the  commercial architecture around  Bowden-Brompton. The photography  was before the rejuvenation of the area  started to reverse the continual decline in the population from  1947 to the 1980s,  due to the intrusion of new industries and warehousing from the city  of Adelaide sites. You could see traces  of  the industrial and commercial premises that had sustained the populous working class community that was close-knit, self-supporting between  1918 and  1945 and a sense that relatively little new housing was built after the First World War.

Most of the commercial architecture  was basic and utilitarian, designed for small businesses.  Artica, for instance,  was a furniture workshop in First Street near South Rd  in Brompton that made furniture to order.

Artica, Bowden

Artica, First St, Bowden

By the 1980s the decline  in population was counter to the increasing population of inner suburban areas in other capital citiesIt was only in the mid-1980s that planners started to think in terms of compact cities and to  revitalising existing cities. The Dunstan State government  realised  that in planning terms urban consolidation  made sense, that is it made sense  to  encourage people to live in the inner western suburban area of Adelaide  because of the lower costs and greater quality of service delivery.

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