The Coburg Plan
I moved to Coburg from Carlton (by way of Moonee Ponds) in late 2007. Around four years later my partner and I got a dog for the first time in my adult life – the classic training-wheels-for-baby common to couples settling down in the “burbs”. I’ve always been a walker, but I suddenly had an imperative to go out twice a day every day– at dawn and dusk. It made me notice the finer grained details of my neighbourhood for the first time.
Eventually I started taking my camera (an old Nikon SLR) out with me and began to capture some of what I started to consider as the vernacular architecture of Coburg. As time went on I accumulated a catalogue of these images and I realised that things I had shot 6 months earlier were suddenly not there anymore – they were disappearing under my feet. I was struck by the fact that beyond the bounds of the city of Moreland, no-one would mourn these losses and I became more determined to document them.
Suburbia may seem static from the outside, regressive even. In reality it is in constant motion – shooting tendrils ever further into the flat paddocks that surround Melbourne, as well as constantly regenerating itself from the inside out. These particular images, of Coburg curbs loaded with hard rubbish ready for collection, represent that regenerative process literally: excess building materials from renovations; perfectly good TVs abandoned for upgrade; VHS tapes that no-one has looked at in years; oil tins used as flower pots before finally being discarded. This is gentrification excreting itself onto the street. Hard rubbish time is also a time of recycling, re-using, adaptation and scavenging: students, thrifty families and shady characters pick over the rubble in the week before it is collected, a process that happens in a staggered way over the suburb, so extending the pleasure of this autonomous system of resource redistribution.