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From noxious trades to boutique bars
by David Wadelton
David Wadelton has been photographing the Melbourne suburb of Northcote and environs since the 1970s, the record of which is collected in various anthologies and publications, and on the Facebook page Northcote Hysterical Society. Wadelton began systematically photographing the inner-northern neighbourhood in 2008, which, as the artist notes, ‘coincided with the 2000s inner-city apartment boom, when demolition and demographic change were accelerating.’ His photographs present a compelling account of contemporary life and the urban condition in inner-city Melbourne – preserving the past whilst simultaneously registering the transformation and gentrification that has occurred over the past decades, as a result of changing demographics and patterns of migration, technological and industrial change, the flight of industry and the arrival of information and service economies which characterise the post-Fordist economic era. Collected in publications including the recent Small Business, (M.33 Books, Melbourne, 2021), Wadelton’s photographs speak volumes about the social and urban history and transformation of inner-suburban Melbourne, its architectural heritage, changing styles and social mores, personalities and protagonists.

From noxious trades to boutique bars – a Northcote pictorial is a new selection of sixty photographs taken over the past decade or so which capture local, quotidian histories captured by the artist on his daily walks. Taking the form of urban archaeology, the photographs represent light industry and small business, shopping and leisure centres, advertising and signage, architectural edifices and interior décor, and personalities and characters that are rapidly disappearing from the inner northern suburb. They are accompanied by textual annotations which add further evidence of urban transformation and the impacts of globalisation, development, community activism and generational change. For Who’s Afraid of Public Space?, the works are presented in a selection of shop windows along High Street, from Northcote to Thornbury, leading viewers on a psychogeographic itinerary through public space and the passage of time. Wadelton has also produced an eponymous artist’s book which collects these conceptual, serial, documentary images as a memorial compendium of urban fragments, remnants and narratives from another time.
ISBN: 978-0-6484353-8-9
Publisher: Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

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