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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 →
These are a couple more Bowden portraits that supplement the ones currently in the Bowden portfolio on my website. I didn’t do many formal portraits.
As I mentioned in the Preface I worked part time at Conroys Smallgoods in Bowden to buy the camera equipment to photograph Bowden. I recall making several portraits in the factory after we had finished working on Saturday morning.
Joe was the production foreman. He lived in the Salisbury/Elizabeth area of the northern suburbs of Adelaide. He worked long hours in the factory. It was a tough hard job.
In his essay ‘Australian Made’ in Each Wild Idea: Writing , Photography, History (2000) Geoffrey Batchen contests the view that Australian photography after 1945 was a dependent shadow of trends in the United States. He says that this assumption underpins the histories of Australian photography written by Gael Newton in Shades of Light: Photography and Australia, 1839–1988, Anne-Marie Willis’s Picturing Australia: A History of Photography and Helen Ennis in the exhibition catalogue, Australian Photography: The 1980s.
If this dependency was especially the case fortheAustralian art photographers of the 1970s, then according to these texts, the 1980s signalled the beginning of a new era of photographic art practice. Batchen’s main point is that art photography was only one small aspect of developments in Australian photography during the 1980s, and that there is no particular reason to concentrate a historical account of Australian photography in this period exclusively on art production. He says:
There were in fact a number of important debates and incidents specific to Australia during that decade in which photography was a central concern, and yet inexplicably they received little or no coverage in any of the above [historical surveys of art photography] books. Another history of Australian photography in the 1980s remains to be written, one concerned with the medium’s social as well as its aesthetic impact. The aim of this other history would be quite specific: to make visible the local configurations of power and resistance within which photography in Australia operated, then as now.
Batchen then asks: What would be in such a history?
For the sake of argument, he offers some fragments, along the lines of those who managed to stage effective interventions within the very grain of an established circulation of photographic images. He mentions photography by indigenous Australians and the wilderness photography of Peter Elliston and Peter Dombrovskis. Another fragment in the 1980s that Batchen mentions was the work of B.U.G.A. U.P or Billboard Using Graffitists Against Unhealthy Products:
Batchen says during the 1980s this group “regularly terrorized Sydney’s advertising billboards, particularly those devoted to the promotion of cigarettes and beer. Ubiquitous urban billboard images were transformed through a judicious and witty application of spray paint such that their naturalized messages of desire and pleasure were made strange, sometimes on a spectacularly grand scale.” Continue reading →
The empty urban streets of the inner suburb of Bowden bear witness to the slow and steady disappearance of the blue collar, inner suburb working class through the process of de-industralization. The streets are the sites of this trauma and the photography is about absence, void, lacunae.
This is not photography of an event in the sense of photographic reportage; the photographs were not taken in the midst of the action, nor are they documenting any speciﬁc historical moment. These particular photographs alludes to what is not there:
What is not there is the traumatic memory from the closing down of the factories, the loss of jobs, the unemployment and the slow urban decay. The blue collar working class were facing a future of closure. Their old industrial way of life was slowly disappearing as they lived. This closure was a traumatic event. Continue reading →