Monday, February 22, 2010

suburb No 24: Liverpool

Last week I decided to go 'deep into suburbia' and visit Eastwood. As one reader kindly pointed out,
Eastwood is just 17 km from the city centre - hardly in the bosom of suburbia. So this week I was 
determined to double the distance and ended up in Liverpool, 32 km south-west of the CBD.

I'd never been to Livo before so I did my usual in-depth five second research. In brief: Indigenous
Australians given the boot to make way for Governor Macquarie in 1810 to create a town with the
help of convict/architect Francis Greenway and turn the surrounds into a market garden and chook
farm. Stayed very agricultural until the 1950's when it filled up with working class families and huge 
housing commission estates. Now a major city centre and very multicultural, including Lebanese,
Indian and Eastern European.

Of all the suburbs I've visited, Liverpool reminded me most of the Sydney I remember as a child. 
I'm not sure why exactly - maybe something about the grid-like layout of the suburb - but it felt like 
my memory was being tugged and prodded at every turn. It was the sort of place my nan would take
me for a milkshake and a bag of coloured popcorn. High livin' indeed...

Part 1: The art of capturing Liverpool

Day one in the suburb. I'm wandering around taking shots of a few small businesses that have been 

around for 20 plus years and are still managing to survive despite the Westfield invasion up the other
end of town. There's a 'continental supermarket', a 'continental butchery', an Indian sweet shop and
a barber.

Having drooled over their modest beauty and taken as many shots as I could without freaking
out the bemused owners, I decide to check out Casula Powerhouse, five minutes down the road. 

reborn not replaced - Casula Powerhouse

My architect friend, Julie Mackenzie from Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, was involved eons ago with turning
the Powerhouse into an art space (and now theatre). I walk in, expecting to have a quick squizz and
maybe take a few shots, and guess what? There's an exhibition on called 'Living Liverpool',
with some great work by a variety of artists, all telling stories about the suburb of Liverpool.

I had no idea the exhibition was on (that's how thorough my research is). But there on the wall were

these lovely detailed charcoal drawings of two of the small businesses that I'd just photographed
- the Continental Supermarket and the Indian sweet shop, the Indo Australian Caterers. Another
artist had painted shopping trolleys and mattresses as part of her work - things I hadn't taken shots
of yet but had wondered why there were so many hanging around.

It made me feel a little less strange about the things that catch my eye and that I'm not alone in 
wanting to document and celebrate the 'ordinary' and 'everyday'.

The Continental Supermarket:

'Aussie Market', Catherine O'Donnell (Boutwell Draper Gallery)


daily coffee

3 wise men


The Indian sweet shop:

'Dutchy & Son', Catherine O'Donnell (Boutwell Draper Gallery)

sweet mate

Famous Liverpool lads:

Gough Whitlam, in office 1972-1975 ('Gough Whitlam, His Younger Days', Gina Sinozich)

military men ('John Edmondson, Earlier Settler in Edmondson Park', Gina Sinozich,
and sculpture of Governor Macquarie, Robin Blau)

protector of the aged ('Maurice Tulic, More Blue Hills', Gina Sinozich)

Once upon a time in Liverpool:

multiplying like rabbits (detail from 'Over the Rainbow', Anney Bounpraseuth)

mattresses spring up everywhere (detail from 'The Princess and the Pee', Anney Bounpraseuth)

all heart (detail from 'Over the Rainbow', Anney Bounpraseuth)

Going around in circles:

'Blood, Sweat, Tears', Jason Wing

suffering is part of life (stations of the cross, and 'Blood, Sweat, Tears', Jason Wing)

Part 2: The butcher and the barber

Near the Indian sweet shop were two other gems, a continental butchery and a barber. Both been

there forever - but in the face of Westfield and the like, for how much longer?

The Polish woman's Continental Butchery:

small goods, big heart

warm smile, cold cuts

'Steven', Adam's Barber Shop:

Adam the barber

take a seat

fantasy vs reality

smoke and mirrors

Part 3: Grand old Liverpool

Francis Greenway had a hand in a fair few buildings, including the Liverpool Hospital (1820's), 

now TAFE College.

a hospital in a former life

winding staircase :: 1

winding staircase :: 2

Greenway also designed St Luke's Church in Liverpool but not the two churches that caught my eye -
Uniting Church with its fantastic jewel like windows and All Saints Catholic Church.

art and religion :: 1 (Casula Powerhouse and Uniting Church)

art and religion :: 2 (Uniting Church and Casula Powerhouse)


inside the jewel

different churches, same faith (unknown, maybe Greek Church and Uniting Church)

4 young musicians from Liverpool...

coridoors of power (All Saints Catholic Church and Liverpool TAFE)

take a pew (Uniting Church and All Saints Catholic Church)

quiet places of contemplation

open air vs on air

Part 4: Red brick, breeze brick and arcades

the red brick ('no. 19', Catherine O'Donnell, Boutwell Draper Gallery)

can you drive me to the bus stop?

you know, the bus stop outside No 32

where do they lead, nobody knows

i see leaves

rough diamonds

the journey ('Koori Floor', Judy Watson)

Part 5: The Livo Boyz

say cheese

young and old 

stop, stop

Part 6: The Livo girlz


fancy hair do

Miss Peace and the silver door

fashion of the day

wanna take my photo?

Part 7: A place of refuge

colours of survival


home is where the park is

Beauty... The impressive buildings are impressive. But as usual I loved the low key and the uncelebrated,
the places you won't find in any travel guide. Especially given they may well disappear before too long,
to be replaced by some souless horror with zip personality. Give me chipped tiles, peeling paint and wonky 
signwriting any day.

You might like to visit:

Casula Powerhouse, 1 Casula Road, Casula ('Living Liverpool' exhibition ends April 11)

See you next Monday - very late Monday if the last few are anything to go by.


  1. this was a fabulous one! I didn't expect liverpool to be this interesting (im too scared to go there)

  2. Another great entry in your 52 suburbs series. A very insightful take on Liverpool that makes me want to wonder around looking for the 'low key and the uncelebrated'. Keep up the awesome work.

  3. Living a bit further south west (Campbelltown) I know my way around & have worked in Liverpool. Loved this installment, nice to see some beauty in a usually reviled suburb. Nice work Laura!

  4. Beautiful - thank you for helping me to fall in love with Sydney... all of Sydney... all over again.

  5. Wow, fantastic post! I'm always mesmerized by how you assemble and combine your pics. It makes them so much more powerful... Keep on with the great work, I'm a big fan of yours!

  6. Thanks all for your lovely comments. It's a great thing to hear people are inspired by this project to see a place in a different light or want to go see for themselves. Makes all the work and late nights worthwhile.

  7. So great to see you about in the outer suburbs. Well done!

  8. Hi Louise!

    I was just introduced to your blog by AnthroYogini.

    Love love love it. Your photography is stunning and so full of character. I am so inspired.

    I will keep up with you now :)



  9. Great photos! Goes to show, there's beauty everywhere if you have the right vision, 'eyes to see', basically.

  10. Siobhan - It's been a while I know since I've left the big smoke behind. Sometimes it's tricky when my week is full of other life stuff to commit to close to 2 hours of driving a day - but when I can, I really want to explore the far far away places.

    Fleur - Very true - we lead such busy lives it's easier to watch your feet as you walk and not remain open to the possibility of seeing something worthwhile. Having a camera in your hand forces you to walk slowly and scour the streets for whatever it is you're looking for - in my case, beautiful character. So instead of focusing on the ugly and bemoaning it, it seems to have the opposite effect - you start to only see the beauty and edit out the rest.


  11. another wonderful post! Loved them all, really, but "take a seat" stands out, love the mirror becoming like a painting or an artwork on the wall and the spiral staircase 1 and 2 and of course the mosaic in the park, me being into mosaic. I look forward to these posts, worth waiting for what catches your eye and camera!

  12. I really liked the art of Gina Sinozich that you included in this post. I assumed she was a young artist from Western Sydney but boy was I wrong. She's a Croatian migrant who is almost 80 years old, never had any art training and only started painting when she was 70. Her husband was suffering from dementia so she started painting in her garage as a kind of artistic release... Then someone "discovered" her in suburbia. What an amazing and inspiring woman!

  13. I lived in Casula as a baby and my parents couldn't wait to leave, so we ended up in Belfield(where I bet you couldn't find a single interesting picture). In those days you could transfer with the Housing Commission, even swap, back in the days when governments housed people...

  14. Helen - I know, those spiral staircases. I think I may be as obsessed with staircases as I am with old garden gates and tiles!

    Anon - Gina's art is so childlike and charming you could easily imagine her being a young thing. It's a great story isn't it?

    scream4noreason - I've never heard of Belfield. Hmm, may have to visit!


  15. Apologies for calling you Laura in my post! How embarrasing!

  16. Hi, your blog was featured in our local paper today, so I came to take at look - it's really interesting, just judging by this post! I've lived in the suburbs of Liverpool for the past 38years and never been inside the Greenway designed TAFE building, so I loved the mix of places I know and those I don't. I must admit, going to Liverpool usually just means a visit to Westfields, which is the same as any Westfields in any suburb. I'll have to go there just to have a look and a wander around. Now to have a look at your other suburbs...

  17. Hi Louise,

    I'm not even sure how I reached your site, but I'm glad I did. I've sat here for the past few hours and read it from the beginning and will probably read up until the end - so far, that's today's: April 15. Yes, I'm a night owl!

    I've been reading over the past few days that apparently Casula Powerhouse is haunted.

    It's interesting to see your take on all the suburbs you've visited so far, and like many I really think you've done amazingly well with choosing and matching the images for your diptychs. I've recently taken up photography as a hobby, and your images are helping to inspire me. I'm also now making it a habit to carry my camera with me whenever possible - better to have it with me and get lots of ordinary shots that I might be able to use, rather than miss an inspired opportunity, right?

    I can't promise you'd find much interesting here, but did you know that Toongabbie is Australia's third oldest settlement? It's pretty much right in between Blacktown and Parramatta, yet very few people know of its existence.


  18. Simone - No worries!
    Nick - Thanks so much, so glad you like the project. And yes, it's a great habit to always carry your camera with you - you just never know. Toongabbie huh? I've always wondered so maybe...


  19. I only found your site after reading about it in our local Liverpool paper and now am addicted and trying to find time to go through them all. Love your sense of humour and ability to find interesting things we locals just walk past.
    Thank you, keep up the brilliant work.

  20. Anon - Thanks - I guess that's what I'm doing - focusing on the stuff we're normally too busy to notice. Glad you like it.