Interlude: reconnecting with Port Adelaide

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that my  planned  interstate travel in April 2020 to  photograph old industrial Melbourne  had to  be cancelled. SA's borders are closed and Melbourne still has several outbreak Covid-19 hotspots. The national lockdown  has meant very limited travel--initially staying at home, exercising in one's postcode  and photographing  locally.   Once the restrictions started to ease in South Australia to allow limited travel within the state's  borders,   I wondered if I  could introduce something  new  to keep the drosscape project going--ie., I could build on my  old Port Adelaide  photographs, and then link  them to  those  of industrial Melbourne? 

Would that change the nature of this low key  project? Would it become a project about memory: a project haunted by the past. If it was   possible to  photographed the Port anew, then what would that look like and how would it link to the old? 

I had photographed the industrial landscape of old Port Adelaide in the 1980s. Then the Port was characterised by obsolescence, decline and grime.   What of the present Port Adelaide,  which was in the process of being re-branded through an obliteration of the Port's history and its industrial and maritime working class character? 

 I returned to Port Adelaide after stage 1 of the easing  of restrictions,  and  I wandered around some of the areas where I'd photographed over a decade ago.  Though I made  the odd photo whilst I was there, I was more or less reconnecting with, and picking up the traces of the  photographic past. 

The  picture  below of the Port River estuary is from the archives,  and it was the first  location  that I  returned to and checked out.  Had anything changed? If so,  what?  Were there new photographic possibilities? 

Not really was my response. I needed to move on.  

As I wandered around  I kept wondering whether I could re-connect with this archival body of work that was made whilst I was living in Adelaide's CBD. Could I build on the documentary work that I had been doing then? If so,  what would be the  concept behind the  documentary  photography of this  old industrial area and that of Melbourne? Heritage photography? 

All I  did that day was to walk around  some of the areas where I'd been photographing circa  2009  and  checked them out.  This archival picture is another   location that I initially thought may have offered  me some new photographic possibilities.

Once again it was not to be. What I realized is that I would have to search for new locations and find new subject matter. 

A lot had changed in Port Adelaide over the last decade. There were  many new buildings in Port Adelaide itself, as well as  in the industrial areas. A lot of the land along the Port River estuary had been fenced off, and it was no longer accessible to the public.   It slowly dawned on me that the Port Adelaide I knew in the 1980s and in the first decade of the 21st century  belonged to the past. The old, grungy,  industrial Port Adelaide of the 20th century was disappearing. 

If Port Adelaide  was in the process of being transformed, then it was the property development along the waterfront that stood out. The Port was being reframed as a place of leisured consumption. The Jenkins Street boatyards precinct may have gone but  Hart's Mill was still standing!

The post-industrial development and gentrification of Port Adelaide,  with its lifestyle of middle class consumption, was taking place despite the wishes of the local residents for the character of old Port Adelaide to be retained and respected.  The governmentally of the Port Adelaide Waterfront Development  acted to minimise and delegitimise the various local communities' claims to cultural heritage significance of working class culture and the historic fabric of the Port.  

So where does that  post-industrial transformation leave this interlude in the drosscape project? Just wait out the current lockdown in Melbourne? Or continue to explore the Port Adelaide region when I could.