“Suburban Baroque’ brings together a selection of David Wadelton’s photographs of the vanishing mid-century suburban interiors of the formerly working-class northern areas that were the destination of choice for many post-war immigrants from Europe. The once-ubiquitous terrazzo, balustrades, marble columns and lions and other manifestations of pride and nostalgia for their homelands have become increasingly rare as the years pass, generations change, and gentrification takes place.
The rooms are redolent of a different era and imbued with pathos, as most are the pride and joy of a generation that is passing. The decor speaks of post-war immigration in a fascinating time capsule, where one experiences a mix of local – the proverbial Franco Cozzo furniture – and imported; defying current design conventions. Often the owners proudly designed the rooms to suit their preferences and to impress their friends and neighbours back in the 1970s, and they have immaculately maintained them that way ever since.
Writing in an essay accompanying the photographs, Patrick Pound has noted:
“Codebook in hand, and undercover, we get to look inside these rooms. We feel a little uncomfortable hovering at the door. Luckily, it’s Wadelton who’s found his way inside. We are not intruders, but we aren’t exactly invited guests either. We have to live with that. For better or worse; we are photography consumers. Like visitors at a garage sale, we see more than either party bargained for.
In Wadelton’s hands we feel safe. He’s the host of the Northcote Hysterical Society on Facebook where he posts decades of his photographic recording of his own suburb, mediating little histories; gleaning anecdotes and memories from his followers and fellow travellers. He’s a qualified guide. He’s a respectful recorder. He’s our resident virtual historian. Wadelton is an engaged and engaging online community activist – part reporter, part archaeologist, part town crier.”