Island in Suburb Sea, 2010

While many people either love or hate suburbia, through my previous work and research I have come to understand it, and look upon it objectively. And now that I understand it, I find myself seeking its opposite, what suburbia was built upon; or even more accurately, what was torn down so that suburbia could exist in its place. I am at an impasse in which I neither fully reject civilization nor fully embrace wilderness. I now seek the middle ground, the pastoral realm that integrates both nature and civilization.
Wolli Creek Valley, not far from Sydney Airport, is home to the only undeveloped bush land of any size left in inner southwest Sydney. It is a unique situation in a long-established suburban part of Sydney, an area of medium to low-density housing mixed with industrial and commercial landholding. Much of Wolli Creek Valley is comprised of bush land, which although impacted by urban development over the decades, remains largely intact. The combination of bush land, creek systems, mangroves and sandstone cliffs provide a significant natural environment in an urban context and contains many Aboriginal sites and evidence of early European settlement.
My first contact with Wolli Creek Valley was the bus to high school and back. Twice a day for six years I looked from my seat on the bus to the entrance of the valley, across a field to a bridge that disappeared into the trees. While I was fascinated with what lay beyond those trees, I never once went there and it is only now that I have begun to question why I haven’t. Bill Owens has said that through his work in suburbia he “[began] to see the community from the inside out, where as most people go to work all day, and don’t see much of their own community.” And so I abandoned that unwillingness to abandon routine that so many suburbanites now possess, set forth into the unknown of the valley, and slowly began to learn about my community and its origins.
I explored the valley, by way of walking, seeing and recording what I see, not in any way to document the site, but to document the experience of my walk. As with my previous work in suburbia, before research of any kind I above all must walk, and it is this that permeates through all aspects of the work. I approached this project as a suburbanite reacquainting myself with Wilderness, recording, as I traversed the seldom trodden track through the valley, the unique and seemingly banal facets of this landscape that has withstood the progress of this machine era and survived.
May you too someday pluck up the courage or quash the curiosity to take a walk somewhere you might never have dared.

Grey headed-flying foxes, Earlwood
Digital C-print
49 x 56cm


Lantana, Bardwell Park
Digital C-print
49 x 56cm


Not a bush, Turrella
Digital C-print
49 x 56cm


Russell's Pool, Earlwood
Digital C-print
49 x 56cm


Two Valley Trail entrance, Earlwood
Digital C-print
49 x 56cm


Two Valley Trail, Earlwood
Digital C-print
49 x 56cm


Waterway, Earlwood
Digital C-print
56 x 49cm


Weed mountain #1, Bexley North
Digital C-print
49 x 56cm


Weed mountain #2, Bexley North
Digital C-print
49 x 56cm


Willow tree (removed Sept. 2010), Turrella
Digital C-print
49 x 56cm