Paper short abstract:
This research project combines both art practice and ethnographic methodologies to gain a greater understanding of what makes a home for a public-housing community undergoing displacement.
Paper long abstract:
Public housing in Canberra, Australia's capital, was originally built to house the growing public service workforce of the 1960s. In recent decades, it has become home to lower-income earners, predominantly the unemployed, disabled and elderly, as well as resettled refugees and students. There is a broader community perception that the larger housing precincts and flats are notorious for social problems and disadvantage. In an effort to provide a greater number of better-quality houses which are more distributed across the city the local government has undertaken a project to demolish 1288 units and relocate approximately 1500 tenants over a period of three years. The project is controversial due the 1960s housing being of architectural significance, an example of the post-war international style, and that the relocation has involved moving tenants to outer city areas, away from key services and transport.
In the early phases of this project it was difficult to identify participants and I will discuss how drawing became a key way of initial engagement; as well as leading to an in-depth understanding of the spatial, environmental, and sensorial aspects of the housing precinct. I will also present a series of my oil paintings and discuss how they were informed by ongoing conversations and participation with residents. Through exploring the relationship between the methodologies of practice-led research and participant observation, the project looks at the tensions and difficulties in crossing disciplines and questions in what ways can painting be a form of ethnography.
Representations of displacement and the struggle for home and homemaking