My subject is a former beachside Milk Bar, one of many defunct small businesses dotted along Melbourne’s Nepean Highway. In this work the Milk Bar stands long abandoned as a place of business, but presents a few clues to its repurposed life as a residence. Many of these old Milk Bars remain in a state of perpetual limbo. Unable to survive as their original intent amongst the super market monopolies, yet also unable to be removed or altered due to heritage overlays. My aim of this image is to capture life as it once was but at the same time as it currently is. The fading commercial advertising which would have previously lured us in is now juxtaposed against the heavy strung curtain and blocked out door telling us to quickly move on. To me this speaks volumes about the cultural shift away from small family run enterprises and the fast march towards modern 24/7 convenience.
Researching the history of photography and the work of other photographers proved to by a very effective source of inspiration for me personally in this project. I think I was able to draw inspiration easily from my chosen photographers, and was surprised with the depth of my intent and purpose in my final image. I drew little bits of inspiration from each of my three photographers I researched (Cartier-Bresson, Martin Parr and Eugene Atget), while eventually focusing strongly on themes of social commentary (Parr) and the quest for documentation before modernization (Atget). I initially struggled with finding direction and focus. I felt uninspired by my suburban surrounds and assumed I needed to travel into more interesting modern landscapes to get visually pleasing street imagery. I then became inspired by Atget’s shop front images in particular and then connected this with Martin Parr’s shop images full of working class societal overtones.
I began to reminisce about corner shops of my childhood. It gave me the idea of revisiting the Milk Bar’s I frequented along the beach at Seaford and Carrum growing up. The idea’s of past and present began to blossom from there on in. And from there a story unfolded and repeated itself from Frankston right up to Sandringham. Little abandoned places of business, once such a huge part the community I grew up in. The surprise for me was from where this process started, to where it eventually ended up. I questioned my own reasons for abandoning my local Corner Shop/Milk Bar for the bright clean and quick supermarket. Oh to realise I have a part to play in this cultural decay! Who knew a little bit of photographic research could lead me to question myself in such a way! This was a lot of fun.
Now for some outtakes …
Abandoned Motel & Milk Bar
Abandoned Garage & Service Station
You’d be proud of me Steph as I dug out my old SLR and found it had 13 frames left of 12 years passed expiry Kodak film in it. These are the results. No VSCO presets needed! I think the age of the film has emphasised the graininess. I really like them!
Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation 2013, viewed 25th Oct 2013, http://www.henricartierbresson.org/index_en.htm
Jobey, L 1998, A Life in Picture: Guardian Article, viewed 25th Oct 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/1998/jan/31/photography.artsfeatures
Kim, E 2012, 10 Things Martin Parr Can Teach You About Street Photography, viewed 25th Oct 2013, http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2012/03/26/10-things-martin-parr-can-teach-you-about-street-photography/
Krase, A and Adam, E, 2008, Paris: Eugene Atget, Taschen, Cologne
Magnum Photos Profile, Henri Cartier Bresson, viewed 25th Oct 2013, http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN
Magnum Photos Profile, Martin Parr, viewed 25th Oct 2013, http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL5357TF
Parr, M 2013, Martin Parr Website, viewed 25th Oct 2013, http://www.martinparr.com/
Taylor, R 2003, Tate Artworks:The Last Resort, viewed 25th October 2013, http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/parr-the-last-resort-23-p78702/text-summary