Redfern – Through a Wide Angled Lens

Redfern is an inner city suburb just south of the Central Business District (CBD). Redfern station is just over a kilometre from Central station. It used to be associated with the seedy side of Sydney but is one of those areas that has had a resurgence in recent times. I went for a quick stroll around the area with my clapped out mobile phone camera in hand.

Murals in Redfern

Redfern has many murals. Some are shown in this post from just a short walk around the area. I know I need to buy a new mobile phone but in the meantime having only a wide angle lens is not quite the end of the world… Especially when photographing large murals painted on the sides of walls and  buildings.

This first one reminded me a lot of paintings I saw by a local artist in the Crossroads township of Cape Town in South Africa. Basic and chaotic but probably telling a story.

Large Mural in Redfern
A colourful mural on the side of a shop on the main street
A Pro-Gay Marriage Mural on the side of a café building on the main street in Redfern

This last one shows former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, as both the bride and groom. In the bottom left corner there is a hashtag urging people to ‘Vote Yes’. This mural was painted when the country was being asked to vote in a referendum on whether or not to legalise gay marriage back in 2017. When Tony Abbott came out on the Vote No side of the debate, Aussie street  artist Scottie Marsh decided to paint Tony marrying Tony and this wall in Redfern was made available to him.

Redfern and the Aboriginal Community

The area has always been known for having Australia’s biggest urban Aboriginal community. This was mainly based around an area known locally as “The Block” in and around Everleigh Street. Much of this street was run down and in need of refurbishment or regeneration. A cooperative called The Aboriginal Housing Company is nearing completion of new ‘blocks’ and they really are blocks! One is a horizontal block of concrete while the other is a vertical block of concrete as seen in the photo below. The tower block is meant to be student accommodation (I think) Hardly inspired architecture is it? It remains to be seen how this will all look when finished…

The new “Block” being constructed by the Aboriginal Housing Company, really is a huge concrete block

Inner city murals are often socially or politically motivated. Many in Redfern certainly fall in to that category.  Take the wall on the railway station bridge for example. The messages such as ‘Say No To Drugs’ are good ones but in this case is aimed primarily at the local community.  Possibly for good reason.

Say No To Drugs (and other things) Mural, on the bridge over the railway at Redfern station.

Be Deadly

The saying “Be Deadly” appears as a small mural on a wall at the Redfern Jarjum College. Aborignal people also use the word “mob” when talking about their group or community. Can you imagine black people in say the USA using such words as ‘deadly’ and ‘mob’ when describing themselves? Anyone would think they were a street gang of hoodlums. But in Australia the words are not meant in that context. In fact the word ‘deadly’ in this case means something like ‘great’ or ‘excellent’. I know from my time working in the Emerald Isle that is is used in a similar (slang-like) manner in Ireland. Telling kids to ‘Be Deadly’ in this context is actually an attempt to inspire and encourage them.

“Be Deadly” Mural at the Redfern Jarjum College

Redfern Park

Like many suburbs in Sydney Redfern still manages to have some urban green-space. Redfern Park may not be very large but it is attractive enough and neatly presented. It even has its own rugby stadium.

Redfern Park
Rugby stadium in Redfern Park
Redfern Park from the rugby stadium

Leave a Reply