I recently rediscovered an account I had forgotten about, on Issuu it is a series of digital publications I put together in the early 2000s.
A week or so ago, I made some pictures of the houses in Wright Street Sunshine that may disappear in the next few years. With one empty block and 2 for sale signs in a strip of a dozen or so house this makes for some big changes afoot. What I neglected to mention or perhaps didn’t recognise was that most of these buildings follow a similar style and appearance. I’m guessing that at some point a government agency was involved with these house’s construction.
Thirty years ago there was an active RAAF base on a site that is now light industry and shopping centre a couple of Kilometres down the road. The site was sold to private developers in 1983(1)
There are some existing buildings of a similar style near the old site and they share similar characteristics to the ones I photographed in Wright Street. The common denominators that connect them are the materials. Fibre Cement is common. Small footprint and tiled roofs others.
The current formula that seems to be being applied to these old buildings, is the old houses are demolished. Then if the site permits several small units are built in their place. While these new units are dotted around the suburb, the danger of a homogeneous streetscape looms large.
Given that Wright Street is an arterial road then I doubt there may be that much new development going up. Keeping an eye on planning permits and council notifications will enable me to track these changes. Thereby producing a meaningful record of the suburb as it changes.
(1) Moca, P. 2015, Forty years ago May 28, 1975 Sunshine’s town clerk, Mr Bill Deutschmann,…[Derived Headline], Airport West, Vic.
In 1966, Ed Ruscha photographed ‘Every building on the Sunset Strip‘ in Los Angeles. It became a book and the original is highly sought after. I have seen the copy the NGV has in its collection. Such a simple and elegant idea. The book is one long accordion type book. It is small but intriguing. I have attempted my own version of the idea twice now. Once in Yarraville with a small stretch of houses that have since been demolished, for the Regional Rail Link. The ‘album’ is on flickr it is entitled Buckley Street Seddon. It took approximately 40 minutes to make those pictures.
I did the same recently, only this time I walked along Wright Street, Sunshine, from Stanford Street to Hampshire Road.
I started at the Stanford street and walked West, the numbers on that side of the street are even numbers. I excluded the corner houses. The photography component took all of 20 minutes.
There was one empty block primed and ready for redevelopment. And two other blocks with for sale signs on them. Big changes are indeed afoot. What form shape or size they will take remains to be seen I guess?
The response to the pandemic in the arts industry has been overwhelmingly positive. SALA is running its entire festival through artists websites this year. I have been very fortunate in that Gary Sauer-Thompson via his studio in Encounter Bay invited me to exhibit with an idea that explored the pandemic. The online exhibition is entitled, ‘Walking/Photography’, its premise is simple:-
“The exhibition explores the interrelationships between these two modes of being-in-the-world. The ethos is to go for a walk in your local area, where you can find what you don’t know you are looking for. It is a step into the photographic unknown that uncovers the forgotten or buried history of the area.”
The ‘exhibtion’ opens on the 1st of August and runs until the 30th of September.
In what now feels like an eternity, but was only 11 years ago; I created a website called altfotonet.org. It was going to be a publication of photography from creatives/artists/ideologues/ratbags/visionaries. I published 3 issues along with Gary Sauer-Thompson. Somewhere along the line it all became too much for me and the idea lay idle, the web site remaining static. In the intervening 11 years the ground has shifted drastically. So much so that even after recently having revived the website I am unsure if I should continue publishing? I originally published 3 issues.
The site was meant to showcase work that fell outside the mainstream art world and was not commercial photography either. I’m not sure what possesed me to undertake such an endeavour? As Facebook was launched in 2004, and it must have taken a few years for it to reach critical mass here in Australia. Facebook has famously sucked the life out of many other online communities; flickr in particular. So I ploughed on regardless. The truth is I was very fortunate to have been donated some server space and the ideas driving the idea were all very egalitarian at the time. I was hoping to make something that was useful and new.
Now I have a new appreciation of what it takes to publish a magazine. I have also learned lots about photobook publishing. The world both in real life and online, is completely different now compared to 2009.
With all this in mind I have archived the old site and started a new one. Using a WordPress installation I will write at length about the ideas and concepts that drive my picture making and some of my underlying concerns. With occasional guest writers artist and photographers.
Melbourne is undergoing several major infrastructure projects right now. The West Gate Tunnel, The Metro Tunnel, and the Melbourne Airport Rail Link to name just three. All of them impact on the roads and environment I use and photograph regularly. This crossing on Dynon road has been added for cyclists to use to cross the road. The bike path and associated underground tunnel has been closed while construction work is underway.
I spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon walking from Arden street to Dynon road and back following Moonee Ponds Creek. I shot about 1 and a half rolls of 120 film and about 50 or so digital pictures. The light was very good as it often is this time of year. The light was the main impetus for me going out to begin with. Having driven past a few times I had noticed some changes. In particular the 2 new bridges built for pedestrians and cyclists. I wanted to capture the state of things as they are. They will I’m sure revert to some form of their original state once the projects are completed.
In the middle of 2017, possibly after discussions with Gary Sauer-Thompson, I decided to deliberately photograph Sunshine. With an emphasis on the rapid change that is occurring. This has turned into slow burning project. Its final conclusion and outcome is uncertain.
I have lived in this suburb since the early 2000s. Digital photography at the time was still in its infancy 20 megapixel sensor DSLRs were still prohibitively expensive. I was predominately using film. My first digital camera was a Kodak DC 260. A capable camera by the standards of the time. Disks and storage in the early 2000s were also prohibitively expensive making archiving difficult. This was the era where the floppy disk at 1.5 mb was the standard. Still with that first camera I managed over 12000 pictures in its 4 year life. Many of these pictures were of anything and everything that caught my eye. I was at this stage a relative newcomer to Sunshine, so there was lots to explore and look at. Living near a major infrastructure site helped too. We have a grain silo on one edge of the park at the end of our street. We have both a busy Metro train service and a 3 regional rail services using the station near us. The land in and around these kind of service spaces have always fascinated me. Even before moving to Sunshine I would trek out to the Western suburbs of Melbourne looking for unique sites of neglected post industrial glory.
This project, currently housed on tumblr ticks away quietly now. There are some major infrastructure projects underway, with a major residential hotel planned nearby as well. So change is constant. I have discovered a new commemorative plaque nearby too. I think I need to capture all these as well now. They are useful for their textual information alone. I am building a page dedicated to the history of Sunshine on my static website too.