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

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graffiti in Bowden

The graffiti in Bowden during the 1980s was  often quite blunt and direct with no ambiguity in the message:

grafitti, Bowden
graffiti, Bowden

I interpreted  it as the signs of the increasing emphasis  on law and order as a response to the local residents /industry politics,  and to the repression directed at  those who were  thrown on the industrial scrapheap with little hope of finding a job. Continue reading

Portraits

I only made a few portraits of people in the city of Adelaide during the 1980s.

One place was Valentino’s Restaurant in Gays Arcade, off Adelaide Arcade, near Twin Street.  My sister used to work there as a waitress whilst she was studying at Flinders University of South Australia  for a social workers degree.  I got to know the people working there,  as I  used to drop in for a quick meal when I’d been strolling around the CBD,  reading the street, and photographing in the city as if I were a tourist visiting Adelaide.

pizza maker, Valentinos
Reno, Valentino’s Restaurant

The meals were cheap then. $5.50 with a glass of wine.  In many ways it was a taken for granted space of a given historical period infused with meanings, experiences and memories; part of the patchwork quilt of traces of human existence that makes a city more than its buildings, transportation networks, rivers, and parks.      Continue reading

city strolling

Most of the images in the Adelaide section of The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia come from city strolling with a camera in the company of Fichte,  my cream coloured,  standard poodle.   City strolling is a translation of the French term flânerie, and it  is an aimless rambling and drifting in the labyrinth of the big  city of modernity  that involves a ludic engagement with the city.

Strolling has no goal,  and it involves   poeticizing what we come across in our aimless drifting.   We invest in our power of imagination  and  attribute meaning to the changing phenomena around us as in the shops in Rundle Mall.

Witchery, Rundle Mall
Witchery, Rundle Mall

My city  strolling  through the city  crowd was not just a  moving through the industrial  city, but rather a  concentration on the displays  exhibited in the  store fronts. These form a dreamscape–a mythic,  re-enchantmen of the banal city.   City strolling is not just a practice of walking and watching but also a way of theorizing and  photographing.  It is a cultural activity.  Continue reading

destroying the old, creating the new

The late 198os and early 1990s in Adelaide was a period after the 1980s property boom and during ‘the recession we had to have’.  I was living alone and working long hours  tutoring and cleaning (early morning and evening) in order  to keep  up the mortgage payments on the cottage.  The high interest rates meant that the good times were no longer rolling.   Keeping the cottage during the recession meant the end of my photography as  I had neither the time nor the money for it.

older man, Adelaide
older man, Adelaide

One aftermath of  the  1990s recession in South Australia was that many workers who had become unemployed during the recession were unable to be re-employed in their old, or in a similar,  job.   Over time many of these people simply gave up any hope of ever finding appropriate employment and slowly slipped into the  ranks of the hidden unemployed.  Continue reading

a point of departure

As the  social relationships between people were becoming increasingly mediated by images,  and the symbols of consumption such as cars, neon signs, and shops became ever more seductive and signs of social status and personal identity, the process of  deindustrialisation continued to spread  slowly throughout  the manufacturing highways of  South Australia.  For the blue collar, white  working class  in Adelaide who were losing their jobs a result,   consumer society’s promised land of a better  middle class life for all seemed to move further away into the distance.

The  process  of deindustrialization meant that the realities of the world experienced by ordinary people stood in  marked contrast to the glossy spectacle  image-text  world of commodified experience. If there was a space for a weighing of the actual against the promised, there was  yet no popular reaction to the neo-liberal globalisation.

Rundle Mall
Rundle Mall

There was, however,  a cultural tradition of a  poetic and sensual desire to be intensely  living in the world, feeling its most intimate reality, through a turning away from the cultural, moral, intellectual, and political values of the prevailing social order  to  the world of play,  creativity within the functional drudgery of contemporary urban life.

Continue reading

empty streets

One of the most striking characteristics of  Adelaide’s  CBD  in the 1980s was the empty streets outside of the weekday’s  9-5  working hours. During the weekend the streets were more or less empty,  and apart from the tumbleweeds in Rundle Street the city was dead with respect to urban street life.  The urban life of this provincial, colonial  capital city was desolate and depressing. People worked in the CBD and lived and loved  in the suburbs.

The CBD had  been emptying  out from the 1950s, when families with children  moving to new housing in the suburbs.  Post-war migrants lived in the inner city areas and  young professionals joined the migrants in central Adelaide and North Adelaide in the 1960s and 1970s. The CBD was still all about business, commerce  and profit,  not inner city living, or the protection  of the traditional built  character of the city.

 

Currie St
Currie St

This emptiness  on the streets was in marked contrast  to the flux and flow of the image-texts in  a  corporate consumer culture or the rapidly changing built environment as a result of the Bannon Government’s strategy of  using major building projects to kickstart  economic growth in a crane-led recovery from economic recession.  Continue reading