Sunday, September 5, 2010

Suburb No 47: Paddington

So last week I mentioned I was planning on venturing far out west. Instead I ended up just three
clicks from the city centre. What happened? Well, I really did intend to let my jalopy have its head
- until I read that a festival was going to be on that weekend in the suburb of Paddington. As 'Paddo'
is on my Last Few Suburbs list, I decided to veer east not west and go look.

Now I should say, I began my visit to Paddo with mixed feelings. Love the current incarnation

of the Paddington Reservoir as well as the history of the suburb. But not so enamoured with the
claustrophobic streets and all the pretentious 'look at me' types (aside from one fabulous person,
and I'm not just saying that because she's my publisher).

Hence I can count on half a hand the number of times I've visited in the last decade. Would I view

the suburb any more positively if I actually got out of my car and walked around - especially 
during a festival?

Yes, for the most part. I met enough down to earth locals to realise it wasn't all about fashion and hair -

and that many of the 'look at me's' aren't locals anyway. And how bad can a place be that has two
excellent bookshops and masses of art galleries and pubs?

Some history: Named after London's Paddo. Cadigals out, British in. Fine Georgian mansion, Juniper

Hall, and Victoria Barracks built in 1800s. Late 1800s, squillions of terraces built to house workers.
Overcrowded and slum-like until the 1960s when it began to metamorphose into a desirable residence 
with million dollar price tags.

Shoulders back, head up, let's strut.

Part 1: Paddington Reservoir

Once a proper reservoir, then a garage (remember the petrol pumps?!) now a glorious public space

and wonderful example of adaptive reuse (and I'm not just saying that because one of my best friends
worked on it). Go here for more details on the award-winning transformation by Tonkin Zulaikha 
Greer Architects.

from cars to scooters

fill 'er up

underground but no longer underwater :: 1

underground but no longer underwater :: 2

underground but no longer underwater :: 3

open in rain or shine

chambers of the East

art and architecture

Speaking of big (wonderful) holes in the ground, I wonder how this one will turn out.

a work in progress

Part 2: Paddington Alive, the festival

I think it was on for a week and I just caught the tail end. But I did manage to be there when

William Street, Paddo's boutique shopping strip, turned into a car-free street party. 

alive with colour

look no cars - William Street Laneway Festival

table tennis instead of toot toots

wash day?

Mercy and Irene :: 1

Mercy and Irene :: 2

flower power

need clothes Mr Bowie? see Reece, the apprentice tailor

Leaving William Street I popped my head into a cute, girly lingerie shop - and met the delightful
Kee Kee who works there. She's a 1950s fan and was all set to make the annual pilgrimage to the
Rose Seidler House the next day for the Fifties Fair in the suburb of Wahroonga (which was where 
52 Suburbs kicked off all that time ago). Not only did she have a great 50s look about her, she is 
also a big fan of the tattoo. Many tattoos.


tyres and bangles

a match made in 50s heaven

fashion from head to toe

the camera loves Kee Kee

Part 3: Faces on Oxford

Starting at the Centennial Park end, heading south to the Darlinghurst end, these are the people

I met. (Okay, so actually realised the first one wasn't On Oxford - but just around the corner - 
On Elizabeth. Close.)

Tali, Blender Gallery

Pagan, Pop Up Shop

Princess Ruby and a not so secret admirer

mother and child

one of a zillion babies in Paddington

actress Jennifer Hagan, off to bury another actress, Victoria Longley - "only 49, too soon"

Beth as tattoo on her husband's arm and as herself

cafe life  - Mitchell and Christopher

women at work - Anastasia and unknown

Sol and her hat

Elle, Alannah Hill

Ariel Bookshop and Judy at Berkelouw Books

Part 4: Paddington lace

Never really noticed it before - but now run the risk of boring you about what designs and colours

feature on the cast iron lace work adorning Paddington's many terraces. Let me show you instead...

bright white lace :: 1

slate grey lace

turquoise lace

salmon pink lace

pinkish lace

golden lace curtains :: 1

off-white lace :: 2

golden lace curtains :: 2

'Royal' lace

Part 5: Paddington's soul

Having found retail (and succumbed twice), I went in search of religion.

religion vs retail

different beliefs

halos - Jess and Jesus

I visited St Francis Catholic Church on Oxford Street twice. On the Sunday I ran into Father Pax.
Just after morning service he was still wearing his vibrant green cloaky thing and was reluctant
for me to take his photo until he had taken it off and was just in his browns. Definitely not the 'look
at me' type.

"too fancy"

join hands

the true colours of Father Pax

fashion vs faith

Having said that about Father Pax, he did seem to get quite animated when we started joking about
how I'd make him famous and he'd get a part in a Western. Perhaps no-one's immune.

would you be the goodie or the baddie?

The day before I'd met Father Mario from the same church, waiting outside for a bride to arrive so
he could perform a marriage ceremony. Being in fashion-conscious Paddo, I couldn't help note his
ensemble - white this time, with a poncho affair on top and a handsome maroon border at the base
of the garment underneath.

waiting for the bride

women inspired by Mad Men?


pure Paddo - marriages in one church, markets in another

Part 6: And finally, some randomness

golden brown

all lit up

black and tan

soap and ribbons


green shutters and terrazo

Beauty, Paddington? While it does seem to be blessed with more than its fair share of BP, there's nothing
wrong with that (I too would like flawless skin and firmer thighs). But for me the true beauty lies
below the surface - in the Reservoir - and above ground in its cast of characters. From Kee Kee who
seems to have just stepped off a film set to Father Pax who may well dream of stepping onto one.

See you next week. Won't even try and suggest where.  


Book update!

Met with aforementioned publisher last week as well as the designer who's going to help give
52 Suburbs a life beyond the ether. We discussed formats, sizes etc - and just how much I have
to do before my November deadline. Eek! As soon as the 52nd suburb is done, I'll need to get
cracking - and asking you for your help. Because aside from some writing, I have to choose from
the thousands and thousands of images I've taken. Talk to you about it closer to the time.


  1. Fascinating to read your take on my suburb. Mine would have been focussed upon older people and older buildings, but then, I AM older. Much older. I love your work for the 'eye' that you bring. Love the comparisons of the various types of lace. You open my own eye each week for which I am most appreciative.

  2. Julie - Interesting you say that - I did try and take some pics of the older locals but with no success. They just weren't into it - I wondered if it was because they feel even older than they are given all the 'bright young things' in the suburb. A pity because their faces are always so interesting. At least I managed to convert Father Pax! And Jennifer Hagan has a great face don't you think? I also tried to take some interior shots of Juniper Hall but again, no success. Ah well. Glad you enjoyed it anyway Julie.


  3. wow. you made paddington look so fresh and gritty! so lovely and colourful. :)

  4. I love your blog and am thrilled you are publishing a book! With only a few suburbs left I am still hoping you choose my suburb (Drummoyne) but I love your work anyway.

  5. What a fab blog, you should come and do one in Melbourne next and have a series of books of all the capital cities around Australia.

  6. Again, some fabulous juxtapositions - one of the things that makes your work different (something you should think about when compiling book!)

  7. bowb - 'fresh and gritty' - I like that description, thank you.

    amandajane - Thank you - and yes, the book is incredibly exciting.

    Jgee - Thanks - love to come to Melbourne - and yes, all the cities in Oz. Maybe!

    Charles - Thank you!

  8. another good suburb did you go up queens street thats a good street we often go wandering up there the organic shop lesly mackays ocean street my aunty used to do the paddo markets to soemtiems and we used to have to visit greandpa mums dady in the hospice in paddinton and it has a catholic name so does st vincents so if you wanted religion shots u could of headed there LOL

  9. Great shots as always. I don't envy you the editing process but it sounds exciting to be at that stage of the development of your book. Well done.

  10. well done yet again schnookims

  11. Great to see pictures of my old stomping ground during the 60's....

  12. Stunning.... love the lacey legs and lace wrought iron... inspired stuff here.... as per! Very glad to read of the book coming along...
    Bravo... you've made me love that incorrigible town of Sydney by reminding one just what's to love...

  13. Marvellous shots. It's amazing how every Sydney suburb tells a different story.

  14. Louise!! Again, awesome.
    My faves this week:
    Look no cars. What a great pic, I loved seeing people just doing their thing.
    Jennifer Hagan, yes, she has an amazing face.
    I loved the lace shots and the light in Curls.
    Cannot wait for the book.
    Thanks again for your beautiful work.
    Di x

  15. Ellen - I used to love the markets 20 years ago. Queen Street is good but I think technically it's in Woollhara. And I'm a stickler for details don't you know?!

    katiecrackernuts - Thank you. Yer, the editing isn't going to be easy - but I'm not complaining - still have to pinch myself about having the blog turn into a book!

    schnook - Thank you kindly!

    Anon - Would love to have seen it in the 60s - must have been pretty interesting??!

    Sophie - Thanks so much. Sydney ain't a bad place after all.

    J Bar - Thanks! True, for places that are relatively close, they can be so different. Wouldn't have it any other way though.

    Di - Thank you. The botanic curls are so beautiful aren't they? Amazing they unfurl and grow into large, sprawling ferns.

    Louise x

  16. Paddington is one of my all-time favourite suburbs of Sydney so I'm glad and surprised to see it here. The terraces I adore - and the best photo this week is 'curls'. Shame you didn't run into Margaret Olley in your wanderings round the back streets of Paddington!

  17. Nat - One of the reasons I decided to include Paddington is the Reservoir - it's just such a great example of adaptive reuse, something I strongly believe in. And although I drive along Oxford Street quite often on my way home, I've never strayed far from that main strip - certainly never wandered around its streets just for the sake of looking. Hence my new found appreciation of lace work!

    And yes, wish I had bumped into Ms Olley too.


  18. Hi Louise !
    My name is Laurène, I am writing from old Paris where I live since I was born 30 years ago.
    I love this city but I fell in love with Sydney when I moved there in 2003, only for a single year, unfortunately... I lived in a great apartment, in a great area Five Ways - Paddington, the best place ever...
    Thank you for your blog, it makes me feel i am still in Sydney !
    If you come over one day, I can take you to great places !

    Thanks again,
    Au revoir


  19. Laurene - Merci! So happy I could take you on a trip down memory lane. Should I venture Paris-way, I'll drop you a line - I like the idea of a Paris guide!


  20. Simply wonderful... thank you so much for sharing.

  21. One of your best. xx

  22. I know ruby, she is so cute.

  23. Another awesome post, Louise! It's incredible how you seem to be able to find and point out all the little things that add character to each individual suburb. I can't believe I almost forgot to check this site on a weekly basis, and I used to get anxious when your posts were delayed by a day or two!

    Wow, I think Mercy is the embodiment (at least in my eyes) of a beautiful young lady - those eyes, that shock of auburn red hair, and (most importantly) that warm, engaging smile!

  24. I love the links between images and thoughts that you have created.