Suburbia is a work-in-progress that explores the surreal nature of the Australian landscape and the various narratives of our past and present.
Having grown up on a dairy farm in Poland, my memories of our expansive countryside backyards are quite different from memories of most of my Aussie friends. When I moved to Australia, I became fascinated by the old Victorian-style houses and the mystery they hold. I’ve dreamt about buying one, renovate it and while doing so, uncover stories and artefacts like pieces of hessian that once covered the walls, torn bits of newspapers and bottles found in the garden at the back of the house.
There was so much more to discover. I focused on the space and various Aussie inventions, like the Hills Hoist – an adjustable rotary clothes line. When I first saw it at a suburban Melbourne garden more than 11 years ago, it made me laugh as I have never seen anything quite like it before.
But the Australian backyard, an iconic feature of the Australian suburb is changing fast. A large backyard is no more – it is getting smaller these days and it has largely disappeared from new Australian suburbs substituted by much smaller outdoor spaces. Whatever the size of lot, the house dwelling now covers most of its area. The current urban planning does little to prevent it. Land developers are transforming the very core of a suburban life by creating large aggregations of compacted houses squeezed into the tiny blocks for the biggest profit. What follows is en masse of roofs, concrete and identical houses, rapidly inhabited by growing urban population. With no or sparse amount of green spaces and very small number of trees, the suburb becomes an icon of missed opportunity. And nostalgia for the Great Aussie backyard is growing.