Thanks to the generous help of my friends, Judith Crispin, Stuart Murdoch, Paul Atkins at Atkins Photo Lab and Adam Dutkiewicz at Moon Arrow Press I now have a first draft of the Bowden Archives: Memory, Text, Place. The pictures have a narrative of their own now and some sort of coherence. That was something I could not do on my own, as I was too close to the pictures.
The next step for me is to follow Adam’s advice and do a dummy book using BookWright, Blurb’s free desktop software, in order to see what the draft with images and text looks like as a book— as opposed to an idea in my head, or Stuart’s step— rough prints on sheets of folded up paper to have an tactile object in my hand as opposed to images on a computer screen. Continue reading
I had a rudimentary studio setup whilst I was living and photographing in Bowden in the 1980s. There was a a table, a dark cloth as a background, available window light, a 5×7 Cambo monorail, the odd prop, and a solid Linhof tripod.
However, I didn’t do much with the setup. I made a few portraits and some still lives, such as this one of a banksia, which I’d purchased at the Adelaide Central Market and then a lowed to dry:
banksia still life
The results were okay, and I realised that I could do the studio stuff, even though the studio situation wasn’t ideal. The available window light was minimal, the exposures for the 5×7 Cambo monorail where very long (several hours), and the house shook if a truck went past on Gibson Street. So I’d have to start the photo shoot again. It was all too difficult really. Continue reading
After talking to a prospective publisher, the title of the manuscript has been changed from Bowden Archives and other Marginalia to The Bowden Archives. This cut down means that the book will be about Bowden as the non-Bowden images–eg., the coastal beaches, Port Adelaide, Adelaide hills etc– have now been pruned from the draft manuscript. They have been shifted to the historical section of the proposed Adelaide book.
I have been going through and scanning the 35mm negatives in the archive. The picture below is from the Kelly Dance–an evening of jigs and reels — that was put on by The Bush Dance Theatre:
boy at Kelly Dance
This evening was sometimes in the 1980s. Unfortunately, I cannot recall where the musical evening was held or when. Continue reading
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, 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.
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
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
The graffiti in Bowden during the 1980s was often quite blunt and direct with no ambiguity in the message:
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
The residential architecture in industrial Bowden prior to its recent gentrification consisted of cheaply built working class cottages. They were dark inside, full of salt damp during the winter and hothouses in the summer. This housing had no insulation and there were few street trees tom provide some shade from the summer heat. Bowden baked during Adelaide’s long hot summer.
working class cottage, Bowden
In the 1980s these cottages were situated amongst plastics factory, three foundries, building companies that specialised in building panels, warehouses, and delis. The suburb was dumpy and dingy, the foundries were a very dirty, polluting industry, and a lot of the land in Brompton was contaminated. Continue reading