Record of Change

» Kensington Public Housing Estate » Relocated


Demolishing an Estate - Starting Over

"Kensington is a small inner-city suburb with a population of about five thousand. The housing estate had been built between 1961 and 1971. Thousands of people had passed through or remained on this estate and, even when people moved out, many didn't move very far. Yet in 2001 much of the estate was being demolished and hundreds of tenants were being relocated. So the question was one of how to quickly record all this, how to document shared memory and history and upheaval, how to involve people who were sometimes traumatised: and how to do all this with respect for the dignity and pride of the tenants."
Jane Crawley, Team Leader, Cultural Development, City of Melbourne

Funds were supplied for photographer Angela Bailey to immediately commence documenting what was happening to the site and its people. Before long she was joined by writer Angela Costi. No-one knew what might eventuate. The imperative was to capture the time. 

Postcards from the Past and Paper Cranes

Guided by the Reference Group of agency representatives and residents, the artsworkers of ReLocated began producing postcards and exhibitions in the flats.

In 2001, two types of postcards depicting the estate were dropped in letterboxes, posted to relocated tenants and distributed to the wider community. A series of photographs with text were produced as stickers and pasted around the estate, inviting public response.

During the early stages of the project, Angela Costi and Angela Bailey had found tiny paper cranes in the window of an empty boarded-up flat.

Hundreds of little, colourful origami cranes hung together by string and wire as curtains. They also found a photo of a little girl standing proudly in front of them.

The tradition of shenbazuru states that once you've made your thousandth crane, you can make a wish for such things as health, peace, a happy home... What did the little girl wish for?  Unfortunately the girl and her family couldn't be traced. They're somewhere in Yarraville, someone said. But the little girl, Marilyn Ngo, was eventually found. Through serendipity her grandfather attended the exhibition. Marilyn Ngo said she had made every crane herself but her wish will always remain a secret.

public housing art project

The lives and stories of the residents of Kensington Housing Estate eventually became both a book and a performance. 
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