An all-but-forgotten era of Australian suburban life has been preserved in a newly published collection by a Seddon photographer tagged the “Westographer”.
Warren Kirk’s Westography: Images of a Vanishing Suburbia contains close to 150 meticulously selected images capturing slices of life across Melbourne’s west and occasionally a little beyond.
From milk bars and boxing gyms to wall-papered kitchens and backyard sheds, Kirk’s photography provides a glimpse inside the everyday lives of ordinary Australians.
Kirk said being approached by Echo Publishing to create his first photo book was “a nice surprise”.
“They liked my work – it seems to resonate with people,” he said.
What began as a pastime when he could find the time has since grown into a regular habit for Kirk.
““It has been an obsession for nigh on 30 years. In the past, I have had to try and juggle it with trying to earn an income but about eight or nine years ago I made the decision I didn’t want it all sliding away, that I would get out there and do this,” he said.
The advent of digital technology has not only made photography more affordable but has helped Kirk shoot in his preferred manner, with available light and natural poses.
His focus is not just on the disappearing industry and small businesses dotted across the west, but the people at the heart of what has made this area what it is today.
“I want to record what’s left of this vanishing Australia. It’s sort of like panning for gold. Someone’s got to do it and I’m lucky enough to be able to try to do it,” he said.
“I’m particularly fascinated with the trades people do, I’m really fascinated with people who can fix things or make things with their hands.”
Now retired, Kirk is always on the look-out for the next image, the next unhurried scene, the next story to tell. He loves the way his photography offers an excuse to talk with residents.
“Their homes show so much about who they are,” he said. “I also think they are a bit chuffed someone is interested in them.”
Westography: Images of a Vanishing Suburbia will be launched from 6pm on Friday, July 1, at Yarraville Masonic Hall, 9 Willis Street (entry via Canterbury Street).
RSVP essential: firstname.lastname@example.org or 9689 0661