Head On at 107; Redfern Then and Now | Head On Photo Festival

Head On at 107; Redfern Then and Now

Suellen Symons

107 Projects

Exhibition Dates:

08 May 2019 to 19 May 2019


Exhibition Description

I have lived in Redfern on and off for twenty out of the last thirty years. Suddenly I have been galvanised by what I am witnessing in my neighbourhood: life as we know it will soon drastically change, as Redfern and Waterloo lose the human scale as it gets swallowed up into the city. As a result on most days I walk up and down Regent Street Redfern, which turns into Botany Road Waterloo about half way down, with my camera and flash, notebook and pen. I am documenting a time of unprecedented change, the precursor in the 1970s when the Lawson Picture Theatre on Lawson Square, (built 1942) which backed onto Regent Street, was demolished to build the twin TNT office towers. Then in 2017 suddenly two very high towers sprang up at the top of Regent Street and Gibbons Street without consultation to the community. A wind tunnel almost always in shadow was formed for the peoples’ thoroughfare. It feels like the change is coming without any consideration for the village landscape of low rise that most of Redfern still has, or for the inhabitants’ inclusion in decision-making to change the environment and vibe of Redfern/Waterloo. Now we are told in the media this week that there will be a lot more development down Botany Road Waterloo to Green Square.
Before all the local business people, and others who hang on the street in the community are lost and scattered I want to document how it is now. There are many more photographs of buildings and landscape views so that the portraits of the people of this vibrant village are interspersed with the unique buildings of interest and heritage in the area. There is now a bigger connection between my photography and the indigenous population as I have forged links with people working in the Aboriginal Legal Service which moved into 199 Regent Street Redfern in the last year.
On reflecting on how crime has gone down in the area over time I realised I must photograph the Commander of the Redfern Police who has been responsible for engaging with the local Aboriginal community by asking the Elders what they wanted him to do. They wanted their young men and women to have self-respect and so the early morning boxing program with the Indigenous Centre for Excellence as a venue was begun ten years ago. As a result, the rate of crime in the area has completely gone down as more and more young people are finding self-respect and fitness.
This is about capturing an era before it is gone. I have photographed people and businesses that have since gone elsewhere or retired as the onslaught of progress was upon them in the form of large high rise needing them out of their premises. the Grahams are in a building which has also been sold. The antique shop repairs who used to be behind them have moved to 60 May St, St Peters and the Grahams are retiring after 40 years at 158 Regent Street Redfern at the end of the year.

Curated by Sandy Edwards, Arthere

Artist Bio

Born in Newcastle, moved to Darwin so Dad could be a flying dentist when I was 3 until 6 when my mother became pregnant with twins we had to move to Sydney for their birth. Then Canberra where I grew up surrounded by bush in Deakin as a young child and Redhill as a teenager. Travelled around the world as a twenty-year-old throughout Asia, Europe, Great Britain and the Middle East to paint my portfolio. On returning to Australia, I enrolled in College of Fine Arts UNSW to do a Bachelor of Arts and then UWS Nepean and then Sydney College of the Arts University of Sydney to undertake two Masters degrees, one with Honours. Then I undertook the four-year Diploma of Photo Imaging at Sydney TAFE Ultimo to learn the digital equivalent of all the an

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Exhibition Space

Dates and Times

08 May 2019 to 19 May 2019

Open Hours

Opening Hours: 
Tuesday - Sunday:
11:00 am-5:00 pm

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