⬤ Our Neon Foe 25 Feb - 19 Mar 2023
I moved to Sydney in 2014, and since then have lived in and around the Inner West, predominantly Petersham and Summer Hill. There is never a week that goes by that I do not need to traverse Parramatta Road, past the faded signage of stores that no longer exist or the many tulle-filled window displays of bridal dress shops, all while breathing in the smell of hot tar and rubber. A previous Mayor deemed the road a “varicose vein” and a “scar on Sydney”. Yet despite the call for the road to be “revitalised”, it remains an expensive nightmare for the Councils it passes through. Most plans of action don’t amount to much, and so the scar remains.
Sydney is not known for maintaining local or lesser-known histories in favour of profit. The $150 million sale of the former housing commission building “Sirius” in The Rocks to private developers in 2019 is but one example of Sydney’s rapacious appetite for renewal. New apartment blocks seem to be going up around every corner, but with the appalling rental market in Sydney, no-one can afford to even live in them. It is an absurd set of circumstances, and as the heady rush for the new drives people out of their neighbourhoods, so too does it erase the histories and stories that they made there. Perhaps that is why I have such a soft spot for Parramatta Road. Despite what is happening around it in the wider city, the road seems forever suspended between the moment of closing-down and the moment of re-development—trapped in a kind of gentrification limbo. It is this state of limbo that allows the road to act as a point for reflection on the city’s consuming drive for renewal.