Graphic designer, photographer and bar owner Liana Lucca-Pope has been struck by Footscray’s sense of community. She speaks with Benjamin Millar


What is your connection with Footscray?


We wanted a place to live we could afford, felt real and unselfconscious, was close to the city and culturally interesting, not “white bread”. We kept meeting great people who lived inner west, so we came over on reccys, realised this was it and moved in 2008.


What do you love most about the area?


I fell madly in love, particularly with Footscray, very quickly. The first thing that struck was the sense of community, which I’d not experienced to this level before. I love the working class history, migrant influences and creative arts scene. There’s a down-to-earth quality, which I deeply appreciate and hope never changes.


What are your favourite local places to spend time?


Little Saigon Market was my favourite place and I’m still heartbroken it’s gone. I get pork banh mi from French Baguette, pho from Chu The, platters from Ras Dashen and ful from Konjo. I love the river and the grounds around the Footscray Community Arts Centre.


What drew you to photography and what are you trying to capture with your Footscray photos?


I love how photography can capture the tiny moments in time which can slip away before you notice and seem ordinary on the surface but actually mean everything. I use it to document my community and environment, which seems especially important here given the rapid rate of change.


What can you tell us about your co-working space The Idea Collective?


The Idea Collective was borne from my need and experiences as a sole trader. It’s about sustainably sharing space and supporting people who might be otherwise isolated working from home. Co-working spaces build and enrich communities, which fits well here where community is valued and space is at a premium.


Why did you think Footscray was ready for Littlefoot, the bar?


We knew Footscray needed a bar because we needed one and our local friends would light up when we suggested it. There were many great eateries, but for a nice bar you had to leave Footscray – and our goal was to never leave! We had lots of sceptics, mainly from other suburbs, but we were convinced there was a need … I guess the explosion of bars since has vindicated our belief. It does seem like a lot, though, so hopefully we can all survive. But we’re all very different to each other so I think it gives locals more variety and visitors more reasons to come.


Who has been your biggest inspiration in life?


Probably my mother. She’s fiercely original, intelligent, creative and capable, and never stops learning. She taught me to challenge stereotypes and to approach life with curiosity.


What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?


People often seem surprised I was born in Italy and am half-Italian. I guess I don’t fit their preconceptions.