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

The Adelaide hills

Once I’d  purchased   a VW Kombi I was able to make little road trips  outside of the city, I started exploring  around the Adelaide Hills and the Mt Lofty Ranges. I was stunned to see how small the city of Adelaide actually was sitting on  the Adelaide plains. It really was an isolated,  provincial city when compared to Melbourne and Sydney. It was easy to see how it was becoming marginalised.

city + plains, Adelaide

city + plains, Adelaide

I was shocked by how barren or stripped the landscape was. The colonial settler society’s ethos of men’s mastery of nature  resulted the  trees being few and far between in many places.  It was a reminder of the significance of agriculture prior to the emergence of manufacturing after 1945. Most land clearing occurred from the turn of the 19th century to the mid-20th century.  The  post World War 2 land development boom has seen the clearance of hundreds of thousands of hectares of native vegetation in the agricultural regions of the State. By the 1980s over 70 per cent of the land had been cleared. The land tax favoured the clearing of native vegetation  not its conservation.      Continue reading

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.
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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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