Roadtrip: ruins + architecture

I recently dug out some photos in the b+w archives from some photo trips that I made between the eastern Mt Lofty Ranges and the Murray Plains in the 1980s. I started remembering these old road trips in this part of the mid-north of South Australia –eg., Sedan, Cambrai and the Marne River— when I briefly revisited the area in 2019 and then when I explored it more throughly in 2020 whilst I was at the Lavender Trail Kapunda camp.

These photos appear to be related to, or an extension of, this roadtrip. They were possibly made around the same time or more than likely, just after that roadtrip to the Mt Lofty Ranges. I cannot quite remember. From what I can recall these are photos made on a day trip from Adelaide, as I don’t remember sleeping in the Kombi overnight on the roadtrips in the eastern Mt Lofty Ranges.

Linhof Technika70
shearing shed, Dutton, Eudunda Rd

On the 1980s road trip I travelled along the Eudunda Rd, which runs parallel to the Mt Lofty Ranges between Truro and Eudunda through agricultural land. This area has a number of farm ruins which caught my eye. Ruins, including the old railway line to Cambrai and Sedan, are what initially stands out when travelling though this region for the first time.

greening Bowden

The suburbs west of the city of Adelaide and the parklands, such as Hindmarsh and Bowden,   were earmarked as industrial areas prior to 1945 because they  were  in the vicinity of the road and rail links between Adelaide’s CBD and Port Adelaide. The industrial origins in the 19th century lay in the small cottage industries supported by both residential and industrial expansion.  More noxious industries moved into the area  in the early 20th century and the wealthier residents began to move out.

Though it was still a residential area,  with many  post 1945  European migrants  (Greek, Italian, Yugoslav) being attracted to the area because  of the low cost of housing,  industry expansion quickened  after the 1940s.By the 1980s the official view of  Bowden-Brompton was that these suburbs were  old industrial areas and that industry expansion was premised on purchasing adjoining residential property.

These properties were seen as being on congested sites, to be outworn and obsolete,  as having reached the end of  their economic and useful life,  and  that their low property values encouraged the intrusion of factories and businesses. The substandard  housing was only worthy of demolition. The depressing character of sub-standard dwellings combined with noise, odours, dirt, smoke pollution and heavy traffic meant that  Bowden was defined as a Adelaide’s slum. Slum meant an incidence of disease and delinquency.

The concerns of the  people who lived in the slum  for  better living conditions for themselves could be ignored.

Gibson St, Bowden
Gibson St, Bowden

Even though there was limited room for industrial expansion in Bowden, and  industry was moving to Adelaide’s northern and north western suburbs,  the  old Hindmarsh Council, which had been captured by industry, had little  interest in greening the suburb, the quality of the environment  or  urban renewal. The state government had no conception of urban infill with higher density housing.     Continue reading

old Bowden, Adelaide

This  image was made whilst I was working on the 1980s  Bowden series.

The image highlights the industrial nature of this inner suburb,  before its urban renewal and gentrification in the Ist decade of the 21st century.  Bowden has been greened up, and infilled  with higher density housing,  and is now Bowden Village.

factory,  Bowden, Adelaide
factory, Bowden, Adelaide

The earthy and gritty character of the older industrial Bowden of the 20th century has gone.

Holden, Galga

Like the two other images   from the Mantung photoshoot in the South Australian Mallee in the early 1990s this image   was also  made with a Cambo 5×7 monorail and  Kodak black and white  Tri-X film.

This image was made about the time that  photography, whether as historical object or professional practice, was becoming fully institutionalised; that is in the process of finding a secure niche in universities, art schools, art museums, and the marketplace, as well as in the culture at large.

Holden, Mantung, SA
Holden, Mantung, SA

This photograph  provides a scene as opposed to a narrative; a scene that is always from the past and that has to be read like a tableau or a panorama, with the gaze moving across the plane of view in different directions, back and forward. This kind of viewing incorporates the past into the present. It suggests that photography simultaneously conjures past, present, and future in a single image form.

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Ampol, Galga

This is another image from the Mantung photoshoot in the South Australian Mallee in the early 1990s. It was made with a Cambo 5×7 monorail and  Kodak black and white  Tri-X film. This is  another archival image that didn’t make it into the   opening exhibition of the Mallee Routes project at the Atkins Photo Lab in Adelaide. There were  no archival images amongst my 5 images  in that exhibition.

Ampol, Mantung
Ampol, Mantung

The image  was made after  the postmodernism  opposition to the US modernist formalism,  most often identified with John Szarkowski and the art photography favored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York,  had emerged in Australia; a postmodern opposition that helped to establish photo discourse in Australia.  Szarkowski had proposed in The Photographer’s Eye (196) that ” it should be possible to consider the history of the medium in terms of photographers’ progressive awareness of characteristics and problems that have seemed inherent in the medium.” In other words, Szarkowski  claimed to be seeking the essence of photography, in his case by privileging the specific qualities of the photographic medium.

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