rock abstract

The Bowden Archives section of the photographic  archive has been sorted and edited into a book, which is  to  be published in 2018.  It consists of  50 images and two essays. I will now concentrate on other images from the archives:

In a previous post I mentioned that I would go to Victor Harbor occasionally.  Suzanne, my partner’s mother lived at Victor Harbor and we started to go and stay there on the odd weekend. Whilst staying there  I would walk around the rocky foreshore west ofd Petrel Cove photographing the rock formations:

rock abstract, Petrel Cove

I used an old Linhof Technika 70 camera for these rock abstractions.


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.


sand dunes

The beach is more than a space for people to walk, sunbath and swim. It has a past and a future  and this indicates  that  the sand dunes and the fragile dune  vegetation are in  need different forms of coastal protection and management.   Hence the use of both sand-drift fencing to help restore and protect dune systems from erosion, by trapping wind-blown sand in the vicinity of the fence where natural vegetation is not sufficient to do so effectively, and various  revegetation and restoration projects.

sand dunes, Adelaide

sand dunes, coastal Adelaide

Beaches have a history and for Adelaide’s coastal beaches this history  is one of coastal degradation.

Prior to European settlement, the beaches were naturally replenished from the dunes and the southern beaches,  and therefore sand movement could continue almost indefinitely. Predominant wave energy hitting beaches from the southwest naturally shifted sand in a northerly direction along the coastline with most of the sand accumulating at Semaphore and North Haven. Development along our coast however, has resulted in large quantities of the sand supply either being ‘locked up’ (eg., ate the harbours at Glenelg and West Beach) or removed from the beach system, preventing natural replenishment.  As a result, natural processes and coastal storms have continually eroded beach width, and without artificial replenishment, the sand will continue to erode away, exposing the underlying hard rocks and clays. Continue reading

Glenelg’s piazza

As Adelaide was in the process of becoming a post-industrial city haunted by the decline of its manufacturing industry and growing working-class disaffection its  only  genuine gathering place–or piazza—  for people  was  the beach side suburb of Glenelg. It was a place where people  accepted their differences to enjoy their leisure with  picnics,  bathing  and walking in the sun.

Glenelg, Adelaide

Cruising Glenelg

The tram route from Victoria Square to Moseley Square in Glenelg was all that remained of Adelaide’s tramways network. This  had been pulled up to make way for the  motorcar. The tram  was basically  for tourists.  During the summer the  tram was packed with people going to and from  the beach for  a  day’s outing. I would often catch it  to Glenelg in the afternoon to hang out on the piazza with my cameras. Continue reading

Past futures: the beach

Past Futures is the working title for the third section of The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia. This section maps the space outside of Adelaide’s CBD and Bowden-Brompton. It represents an escape from the confines of  the city, sometimes in  the form of  day trips to the Adelaide Hills and Mt Lofty Ranges; trips to Melbourne and along the River Murray.

Escaping the confines of Bowden  during the summer heat was necessary and I would often go to Adelaide’s coastal beaches in the late afternoon. I would usually park the Kombi at  Largs Bay in the late afternoon and walk along the flat open stretch of sand to North Haven and back with Fichte, my standard poodle.

couple, Larg's Bay

couple, Largs Bay

This was a time when people sunbathed  on the beach and they didn’t really worry about effective sunscreen to prevent melanomas and skin cancer, even though the Slip, Slop, Slap!  health campaign was launched in 1981 by the Cancer Council as part of its SunSmart campaign.    The beach was a hedonistic holiday zone–a shared space of relaxation–with minimal shade from the burning sun.
Continue reading

seascapes + memory

As I go through my black and white archives  from the 1980s for The Bowden Archives and Other Marginala book   I am starting to come across  some seascape images that I cannot recall making.   Nor can I recall their location,   the camera that I used, or even when they were made. Since my personal memory is unreliable my memory of these past events is going to have to be constructed.

The negatives had been stored  away in an old, red  filing cabinet  with no information other than a tab that  just says ‘Landscape Studies’.  An example:

coastal rocks

coastal rocks, Petrel Cove

Many of the pictures in  the Landscape Studies  file were done whilst I was on the road.  My best guess is that these kind of seascape images are different,  in that they were probably made along the southern  coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, even though I don’t immediately recognise these rocks. But I have no memory of making them. I haven’t looked at the negatives or the contact since these were processed  and printed. I cannot even recall who processed the negatives or printed the contact sheets. Was it me or a commercial laboratory?

In 2016 I  am reading these photographs  differently,  and the reason that I was  drawn to this location becomes irrelevant. It now becomes an interpretation of an image, influenced by a contextual memory of  the situation.  The boundaries become blurry as we step into the realm of fiction.

Continue reading

Port River estuary

This  photo is  from the incompleted Port Adelaide project.  The photo is of the Port River  estuary looking across to Penrice Soda Products’ soda ash production facility at Osborne, Adelaide. It is  is a film based photo made with a view camera. Sadly, my  attempt  in the 1980s to photograph Port Adelaide  as a project didn’t get very far .

Looking back  from the present I can see that,  with the emergence of postmodernism  and then digital technologies,  this kind of topographical photography was about to disappear from view:  a topographical photography has been  transformed into a mere ghost of its former self.

Port River estuary

Port River estuary

The economic background is that Penrice Soda Holding Ltd went into liquidation on July 31st 2014, having collapsed in April 2014, leaving people without employment, and funds not available for their entitlements, and debts of more than $150 million. Penrice had use of hectares of Renewal SA land for storing their waste material.

Some of that waste material lies south of Penrice’s plant, on the west side of the Port River (between the rail freight line and the Port River) and some in piles on the east side of the River. The prime  responsibility for the cleanup  is with the company, but it is in receivership and unlikely to be able to meet the bill. The contaminated Osborne site  becomes  the responsibility of the state government (ie., Renewal SA.),   since as no-one is likely to buy a contaminated site that has no use. Continue reading