West Footscray’s Mary Long says her love of collaboration makes the inner-west the perfect place to live and work. She speaks with Benjamin Millar


What’s your connection with West Footscray?


We moved to West Footscray in 1997. Like many people, we sort of moved here by default. It was the only place we could afford. Somehow this turned out to be a great move. We quickly felt at home and a deep connection to the west.


What do you like most about the area?


Its diversity, for sure. There is a sense of community and inclusiveness that you would be hard pressed to find on the “other side”. I always joke we are on the right side of the river … the Maribyrnong!


What are your favourite local places?


We are spoiled for choice here. We have Thai, Sri Lankan, Indian, great pizza and a range of fabulous cafes. They are all great. To be honest, my favourite spaces are the open spaces. My partner, Jos Van Hulsen, has imparted a love of exploring. He often takes me on adventure walks exploring old tunnels and collecting discarded objects to photograph for his artwork. I do love Pipemakers Park and never tire of climbing and wandering around the large sculpture, Pipe Dreams, by the late Matthew Harding.


What can you tell us about Post Industrial Design?


Jos and I started Post Industrial Design back in 1995 in Richmond. Initially, it was a way to showcase Jos’s work. Since then we have expanded to support and represent other artists, designers and makers. In 2011, we opened the business here in West Footscray. We felt strongly that we wanted to invest in our own neighbourhood, to create something in the place that we were living and raising our children.


Why do you have an emphasis on showcasing the art of local creatives?


Why wouldn’t you? So much talent to draw from in the west. I have been lucky enough to work with many amazing artists across fine art, music and performance. I love working with creatives and really see it as a partnership. I love what they bring to my space and I like to assist artists and makers bring their work into the marketplace. It is always an exchange of knowledge and I am forever grateful to be working amongst such inspiring people.


Who has inspired you most, and how?


The late Sarah Watt. She was a creative in every sense of the word. She was passionate,  inspired, inspiring and sometimes scary. She was an amazing collaborator and really taught me the power of collaboration and partnerships. She would pull people in on a project and  always brought the best out of them. She did this by valuing everyone on a project no matter how small a contribution they made.  She showed me how to view the world with a new lens. I was blessed to have her in my life.


What is something people may be surprised to learn about you?


Although I own a shop, I really, really hate shopping.


Mary Long will be the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Footscray’s annual fundraising dinner, in conjunction with the 2019 Footscray Art Prize, on June 22. Details: rotaryfootscray.org.au