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Northern Suburbs Photography

Melbourne’s northern suburbs are changing; there is construction everywhere. Derelict factories are being converted into blocks of flats. And ironically, at the same time, shops selling tiles, heating and hardware are closing down and moving to cheaper locations further out. The type of shops along the long Sydney Road shopping strip are changing, older business are closing and there are more boutique clothes shops, more restaurants and new coffee shops.

For many years Brunswick was without an English-language bookshop, aside from second-hand bookshops and the anarchist bookshop, Barricade Books. So Brunswick Bound is a welcomed change. Brunswick Bound is a great bookshop, with very good selection of art books and magazines and an impressive counter made of stacks of old books. And upstairs there is a large carpeted room for exhibitions; the bookshop brings additional visitors to the gallery (I was not the only person viewing the exhibition noon on Wednesday).

I was hoping that the InnerNortherns Photography Exhibition at Brunswickbound Bookstore would have found defining images of the northern suburbs or document the changes to Brunswick and Coburg. Not that any of the photographers aspired to be documentary. The InnerNortherns is a group of 10 photographers “inspired and working in the northern suburb’s of Melbourne.” I couldn’t see much of this inspiration as many of the photographs could have been of anywhere. The exceptions were the photographs of Andrew May and Rhys Jones where I could recognize some locations or felt a local presence.

Photography is the perfect media to capture urban landscape and the unnatural light of city at night. It can make ugly urban decay features aesthetic and the northern suburbs still have plenty of abandoned factories and empty spaces. Rhys Jones photograph of a tram passing a coffee warehouse at night is amongst the strongest in the exhibition. The shining tram rails, road-markings and power-lines fill the lower and upper thirds of photo with the motion blur of the tram in the middle.

I hope that this will be just the first exhibition for the InnerNortherns group and that they refine their focus.


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