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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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, 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
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.
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 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, 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.