We wanted to express the human face of Queen Street, which is far more than just a place to shop, it is acommunity!
By forming creative partnerships and engaging mentor John Slaytor, a renowned photographic artist, six creative young photographers took the opportunity to experience and develop a range of technical skills in photography.
The camera acts as a silent observer facilitating a connection with the everyday, capturing the personal interaction, the conversations, the shared knowledge and friendship between retailers and customer. Only a main street such as Queen Street can offer these opportunities.
Emily Cahill, India In Australia - Billy, 2012. Digital print.
The minute I walked into Billy’s shop I felt so welcome and I knew that I had to capture an image of him that reflected his happy and humble personality. This photograph reflects Billy and the way that he has brought his Indian background into the Queen Street, St Mary’s community in such a loving and welcoming way.
Emily is 16 years old and currently attending Caroline Chisolm College. She shares an interest in photography, digital media and visual arts. She hopes to one day pursue a career in photography or communications. Being involved in this project has opened her eyes to the beauty in such a small community, whilst also developing her skills in working within a professional environment.
Queen Street Riches and Textures 2012
art. mentorship. community engagement.
Queen Street is the main street of the St Marys Town Centre in the Penrith Local Government Area in outer Western Sydney. Previously known as Windsor Road and later Station Street, this street was re-named after Queen Victoria in 1897 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. Throughout the history of St Marys, Queen Street has always served as a main boulevard reflecting a unique sense of place.
Queen Street reflects the best of traditional main streets in Western Sydney. It offers a uniquely imaginative narrative of the past while depicting the present. It reveals the unique make-up of St Marys and the identity of its communities by presenting a mixture of images filled with rich social and cultural expressions: casual neighbourhood connections, transport and trade, food and cuisine, diverse multicultural restaurants and shops, rural and urban heritage, festivals and cultural celebrations.
Queen Street Riches and Textures explores opportunities for community engagement in
re-discovering, documenting, creatively expressing and interpreting the street’s past, present and future. The project’s approach is one of creative collaborations, social connection and conversations, between artists and community and people and places.
The project engages with people of all ages, neighbours, businesses, restaurant owners, and surrounding social and other services to respond to some simple questions: What does Queen Street mean to you? What is its importance and character? What are the personal and collective memories connected to the street? What is Queen Street going to look like in the future?
Developed through collaboration between contemporary artists and the community, Queen Street Riches and Textures examines the socio-cultural dynamics of the St Marys Town Centre. It explores the multiple dimensions of social life in an interactive and visual way using the medium of photography and public presentations.
Queen Street Riches and Textures has multiple objectives. It serves as a platform for conversation and dialogue, community engagement and interaction, mentorship, growth in the skills of the participating artists, and the presentation of new work by these artists.
Queen Street Riches and Textures 2012 has also been developed in collaboration between contemporary artists and the commercial centre of St Marys. This year we invited professional photographer John Slaytor to mentor a group of students from the Nepean Arts and Design Centre TAFE NSW-Western Sydney Institute and Caroline Chisholm College and develop the photojournalistic work that comprises Queen Street Riches and Textures 2012.
The result of their creative interaction with twenty five shop owners is featured in the Queen Street Riches and Textures 2012 exhibition.
Madeline Robson, Hobbies Pro, 2012. Digital print.
This image was taken in Hobbies Pro shop. It captures the dedication and passion that the subjects put in to their work and the hobbies of others. This image represents what Hobbies Pro as a store does, while also showing the staff’s commitment to helping their customers.
Madeline was born and raised in Penrith and is in Year 11 at Caroline Chisholm College. She is interested in photography and digital media. Her photographic work mainly focuses on showing the moments of her life that she doesn’t want to lose. She is motivated to show not only individual moments, but also the emotion in the moment. The influence of artists such as Andy Warhol, Olive Cotton, Max Dupain and Hana Pesut has developed her love of photography.
Courtney Roberson, Hairdresser, 2012. Digital print.
After visiting many hairdressers among Queen Street, this shot was captured at Chimes Hairdresser. I loved working in this space due to the upbeat, girly, ‘city-like' style atmosphere with funky, retro colour schemes. This wide shot captures the business yet intimate interaction between the customers and staff. This highly energised work space never provided me with a dull moment and gave me an insight to the different personalities within Queen Street telling a story about personal upkeep and beauty.
Photography is my passion as the only limitations are yourself and one can simply capture and hold onto a moment in time. A photograph of a face is a story of the soul and different experiences are shared through the bonds between the photographer, subject and viewer making my passion a strong connection of art, expression, experiences and identity.Courtney Roberson is interested in digital photography and is currently in year 11 at Caroline Chisholm College. Every year she has been enrolled in an art or photography course to enhance her knowledge. Courtney enjoys taking photographs of human subjects as the soul behind evoked faces and emotions share stories that are inspiring and intriguing, leaving viewers with wondrous attitudes.
Emily Tsiattalos, Lopez Records, The Hip-hop Shop, Victor Lopez, 2012. Digital print.
Capturing Lopez records and its atmosphere, I realised that I needed to demonstrate the vibrant colours in order to show the authenticity of Victor’s Shop. Capturing Victor in front of the colorful spray cans, including the posters under the bench was able to demonstrate his authenticity and the quality of his shop.
Emily Tsiattalos is 17 years old. She is currently attending year 11 at Caroline Chisholm College. The things that drive her passions include believing in herself while investing hundred percent into everything she is doing. She would like to study media and journalism with a career in media. The Queen Street Riches and Textures project helped to develop her skills with working in a professional environment.
A novelty costume store FULL of fun! Wall-to-wall, floor to roof – you’ll find what you need for a costume, here. Thank you to the ladies at Giggles Fancy Dress!
Born in 1992 and raised in Penrith, Guy has always had a natural sense and connection with Art. He is a HSC and TAFE graduate, currently studying the Diploma of Fine Arts where he digs his fingers in all kinds of art making.
The image was made in my favourite shop as it was funky, different and insightful. I have never seen so many brands of spray paint nor have I met such awesome hair dressers before with great artistic talent. I was lucky enough to walk in the shop when a young boy was getting his hair cut and styled. I was making sure to capture the spray of mist that floated in the air from the water bottle, while capturing all the needed equipment on the bench and in the barber's hand. This photograph tells a story of the fact that people of all ages care about their hair and what it looks like.
Photography is my main passion as I can capture a moment, evoke emotions and captivate audiences with my powerful and yet quirky subject matter in my pictures.
Julieanne Bartolo is interested in both film and digital photography. She studied photography for more than four years at Kingswood TAFE in Penrith. Julie enjoys taking photographs of live subjects, in particular the human form which she finds always inspiring and aesthetically pleasing.
John Slaytor, Sam, Fred, Chris and John (from left to right) G’Day Café, 112 Queen Street St Marys, 2012.Digital print.
John Slaytor is a Sydney-based artist who is interested in how photography can promote dignity and compassion. He set up a funeral photography business in 2007 (www.thefuneral photographer.com.au). John is influenced by Werner Bischof for his quiet humanistic vision, Joseph Koudelka for his commitment, Hiroh Kikai for documenting what it means to be human and Eve Arnold for her compassion.
Queen Street of Hearts
When a person enters a major shopping mall, they are dazzled by the experience. For in the mall everything looks perfect. From the clean white walls to the sparking chandeliers. It’s all so vast and glossy.
The shops gleam with bright lights and beautiful, perfect items all ready to be purchased. Yet, ironically, even though we are attracted by this perfect world we think we can buy, we somehow can’t. Once you get home with your purchase the gloss and glamour so obvious in the mall, is not the same. You’ve bought your new item but somehow it doesn’t fulfil that promise that was so tempting in the mall. Queen Street, conversely, is not a carefully orchestrated shopping experience. Shopkeepers are not accountable to centre management and to master franchisees. There are no palaces to shopping. No enormous chandeliers. It is modest. Queen Street is how shopping used to be before mainstream malls took over.
You knew your shopkeeper in the old days. You bought some milk, your meat, had your hair cut and you passed the time of day with the shopkeepers and fellow customers. You felt, and indeed were, part of a local community.
The butcher shop, the bakery, the tailor and other shops were often extensions of their owners’ homes and interests. And this is what Queen Street still is, to this day.
Marty of ‘Diamond Reptile Supplies’ was so frustrated about not being able to buy food for his pets he set up his own shop three years ago.
Elizabeth and Andrew of ‘Genssea Asian Mix Groceries’ find spiritual sustenance in the religious icons within their supermarket. Similarly, Billy of ‘India in Australia’ lights incense sticks for the Ganeshas next to the till.
Kimball of ‘Kimball’s Barbershop’ was so fed up with queues outside his shop on Saturday mornings that he closed the shop on Saturdays for three months to teach his customers that his shop was also open on weekdays.
As for evidence that different cultures can peacefully co-exist, at the ‘Halal Butcher’, the Fijian-Indian butcher served her Sudanese customer while in the Croatian butcher shop an Italian customer was served. In one barbershop the Maltese hairdresser cut the hair of a Scotsman whilst in another, a Samoan cut the hair of a New Zealander.
As a photographer I am motivated to capture evidence of ordinary people being kind to each other, of being human, of quiet enjoyment. I want my images to counter photography that stresses human failure, racial divides and tragedy.
I want my images to document how diverse ethnic groups can peacefully co-exist. Quiet enjoyment may not be a newsworthy event but it is a goal for most of humanity so for me it is surprising how little it is valued and documented.
To take quiet enjoyment for granted is to risk losing it and we have enough reminders in the media about the consequences of its loss. So I enjoyed focusing on Queen Street’s quiet civility, documenting customer and shopkeeper relationships and the beauty in the day-to-day lives that we all live.
Every person has a story and every shop has a history. Put the two together and you have a tapestry of history, lives and different stories that can co-exist.
Gerry is an Italian tailor who has worked in the same place for 30 years. The plastic bags full of large cotton reels tell his story. The professionalism and skill of the shopkeepers is evidenced by their activities. However it is not often viewed that way. The tailor is modest about his achievements but the modesty belies the accomplishments that can only occur from decades of practice.
I wanted the students I mentored to appreciate this everyday world. How to look. How to focus on something most people don’t notice. I wanted the students to really focus on the shops and the shopkeepers. I wanted them to overcome their embarrassment of having to take photos of something that might ordinarily not seem “worthy” of being photographed.
We are bombarded by glossy magazines, sleek advertising and photoshopped models so that we expect our photographs and images to replicate those images that bombard our sight every day.
It is a skill to capture beauty in the everyday. Not the glossy beauty of media, but beauty in an old man, beauty in the pride of a shopkeeper. I hope that the students learned as much from the project as I did. I experienced that young students today are eager to learn and, given the chance, are perceptive in their outlook. I was pleased that the students embraced this project and gave their insights to the project of which their images are testimony.
I would like to thank the community of St Marys for letting us photograph them, for giving us their time, the space of their shops and their images which are exhibited. I would, finally, like to thank the students for producing the works and the staff at Penrith City Council who envisioned this project from its inception.
John Slaytor, Photographer and mentorQueen Street Riches and Textures 2012
The project developed and exhibition produced by St Marys Corner Community and Cultural Precinct, Community and Cultural Development Department at Penrith City Council
Copyright Penrith City Council, authors and photographers.
Queen Street Riches and Textures project team Adnan Begic and Karen Harris.
Guest artist and mentor
Cath Barcan, Head Teacher, Photo Imaging, Fine Arts, Nepean
Arts and Design Centre TAFE NSW-Western Sydney Institute
Karen King, Leader of Learning, Creative Arts, Caroline Chisholm
Courtney Roberson, Emily Cahill, Emily Tsiattalos, Guy Hickey,Julieanne Bartolo and Madeline Robson.