The South Sydney Visual History Project

Lucy Taksa

Readers of the Hummer will no doubt be interested to learn that The South Sydney Visual History Project is nearing completion. Funded by the Community Arts Board and Crafts Board of the Australia Council the Project is comprised of a number of different facets. These include a travelling photographic exhibition and a number of murals around the South Sydney area.

The exhibition will itself be divided into two fairly discrete sections. One strand will focus upon ‘Work and Industry’ while the other will examine ‘Aboriginal “istory’ in the area. Together, these two strands will be dealt with in 60 panels of mixed photography and documentation. Of these 8 will be devoted to the actual construction of the morals.

It is this latter facet of the project which involves community input. In fact, the two murals add another visual dimension to the two strands of the project already mentioned. Toni Warburton and Susan Ostling are working on one mural which will depict Aboriginal life in South Sydney and another using ceramic tiles. The latter aims to present a reproduction of George Street, Redfern in the 1930s and will be situated at Redfern School.

The research documentation and photography which compose the Project’s historical strands have been accompliShed by Mr Jeff Weary (Project Co-ordinator) and Ms Tracey Moffit. In the Work and Industry strand Mr Weary deals with the Industrial History of South Sydney from white settlement to the present. The issues raised include the General Strike of 1917, redundancy and job loss in the twentieth century ,and migrant labour. The contemporary material focuses specifically on migrant female labour in the area.

In the Black Strand, Ms Moffit documents Aboriginal life in South Sydney prior to ‘The White Invasion’. This strand also deals with the destruction and disintegration of tribal groups in the area; the Aboriginal return in the 1920s to South Sydney in search of cheap accomodation; conditions there for blacks during the Depression and up to the present concern is given to illustrate not only family and person histories but also to Black orqanizations, such as Black political sports and theatrical groups, the Aboriginal legal and medical services and the Aboriginal Housing Company. The overall aim is to present a perspective on the living experience of Blacks in Redfern.

In both strands oral history and photography are the main sources. The project will be exhibited in Tasmania in July 1984, in the South Pacific Arts Festival in August 1984 and in the South Sydney Festival in November. After this Mr Weary aims to take the exhibition on tour around Australia’s major cities. He also hopes to be able to exhibit the Black strand to community centres in the Northern Territory so that as many Blacks as possible may see it. For further information contact Jeff Weiry on 660-8476 or P.O. Box 219 Wentworth Building, Sydney University 2007.