Past futures: the beach

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Past Futures is the working title for the third section of The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia. This section maps the space outside of Adelaide’s CBD and Bowden-Brompton. It represents an escape from the confines of  the city, sometimes in  the form of  day trips to the Adelaide Hills and Mt Lofty Ranges; trips to Melbourne and along the River Murray.

Escaping the confines of Bowden  during the summer heat was necessary and I would often go to Adelaide’s coastal beaches in the late afternoon. I would usually park the Kombi at  Largs Bay in the late afternoon and walk along the flat open stretch of sand to North Haven and back with Fichte, my standard poodle.

couple, Larg's Bay
couple, Largs Bay

This was a time when people sunbathed  on the beach and they didn’t really worry about effective sunscreen to prevent melanomas and skin cancer, even though the Slip, Slop, Slap!  health campaign was launched in 1981 by the Cancer Council as part of its SunSmart campaign.    The beach was a hedonistic holiday zone–a shared space of relaxation–with minimal shade from the burning sun.

The beach was where you could go to  unwind and relax the body from the urban and work stresses that often felt like  entrapment.  If the  beach  was a very ordinary, everyday setting  for  many locals,   this common urban space was also a form of freedom and happiness.

family, North Haven
family, North Haven

The iconic surf lifesavers with their yellow and red caps were  absent stretch of beach  between Largs Bay and North Haven. As were the surfers. It was sun and sand with no surf. Apart from  ‘the tan’ differences and distinctions of class and race of multicultural Australia  were temporarily  ignored. In postcolonial Australia the beach as a place of conflict between indigenous inhabitants  and white colonizing settlers was forgotten –erased from our memories. There were bodies bathing and sun baking.

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  1. […] looking over my  198o’s  photographic archives I realised that there was a shift  from a street  style photography to a more topographic approach. An example of the street style photography  in Adelaide’s […]

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