Suburban Geometric / Dianna Wells

Suburban Geometric is a series of photographic images which reflects on our relationship with a rapidly expanding built environment on the fringe of Melbourne. My previous work explored the change to the environment from pastoral land to urban development. My primary interest over the past year has been the dominance of architectural design in developer-driven communities such as Craigieburn and Caroline Springs.

 Architectural design historian Hannah Lewi et al writes ‘Australian communities in cities, suburbs, and rural and remote townships share a strong similarity: they are defined and sustained by their community facilities and amenities’.[1] The civic centre, including the municipal library, recreational and community centres are a focal point for civic pride and a reflection or expression of community vitality.

 This is still the case, however, vast shopping precincts have emerged as another centre for new communities on the fringe. Branded by their exterior architectural design, featuring enclosed malls, town squares, several supermarkets and acres of parking; websites advertise these amenities to potential new home buyers as a place to belong and the reason to buy. Both commercial and community centres have been explored for this project.

 Suburban Geometric takes documentary or street photography into the hyper-real, It pushes back conceptually and aesthetically at fashion-focused architectural magazine photography where perfection and beauty is used to accentuate the power and place of the architectural form over everything else. Geometric patterning and textures dominate the compositions. Civic facilities such as sports and shopping centres appear on the horizon in the form of supersized hexagons. Oblongs are shaped in turf and stripes rise from a mown paddock. Although there is an absence of people in the images, they have left their trace in the awkward placement of objects and marks cut or imposed on the ground. The new aesthetic is already changing. 

 This body of work explores the artificial replacement on our landscape and searches for disorderly abstractions within the symmetry, imperfections in the cladding and the human touch upon the ground.

[1] Hannah Lewi, David Nichols, Philip Goad, Julie Willis and Kate Darian-Smith. "Making the Modern Community." In Community: Building Modern Australia, edited by David Nichols Hannah Lewi, 2-23. (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press Ltd, 2010), 2.

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Suburban Geometric was exhibited at Gee Lee-Wik Doleen Gallery, 12 May – 17 July 2016

Sofitel Melbourne On Collins, 31 May – 27 July 2014

Taylor’s Hill #2 , 2013, pigment print on cotton rag, 100 x 100 cm

Taylor’s Hill #2, 2013, pigment print on cotton rag, 100 x 100 cm