From August 2011, I spent six months as the City of Wanneroo’s artist-in-residence, exploring local history. This residency exhibition was my response to the rich heritage I found. The landscape was a place of abundance. Bush and beach were rich with wildlife and fish, and the swampy lakes ensured the ability to gather or grow plant foods. These features which had sustained the local indigenous community also attracted successive waves of migrants.
Families often cooked food caught in the bush or grown in their own gardens. At Pappas Swamp, market gardeners and lime kiln workers lived in rough tin and wood houses with internal Hessian walls lime-washed to prevent drafts. Beach shacks spread along the coastal dunes, where families accustomed to roughing it camped to avoid the searing summer heat and catch a good feed.
Despite Wanneroo’s proximity to Perth, it long remained relatively inaccessible and isolated, a place where self-sufficiency, resourcefulness and resilience were valuable attributes. These common threads, stitched into the fabric of life of Wanneroo’s diverse community, formed the core of the exhibition. Fabric of Life combined my photographs and stitched textiles with related artefacts from the Wanneroo Museum and images from the City’s historical photograph collection, Picture Wanneroo.