The Bowden Archives: a draft

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.

Warehouse, Bowden

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

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still life

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

Bowden: the Kelly Dance

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

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

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.

Continue reading

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

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

Bowden’s residential architecture

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

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