Show us your Woolloomooloo

(6.45pm, Thursday 20 September 2012, Artspace Gallery)

Thank you. Hello, everyone. Welcome to this fabulous exhibition. I would like to thank Aunty Fay Carroll for her Welcome to Country, and I acknowledge the original custodians of our land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to their Elders, both past and present. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our city.

Last year, a group of five volunteers created Show Us Your Woolloomooloo, with the goal of creating connections and conversations across the diverse community that is Woolloomooloo.

Woolloomooloo is a fascinating mix: high-end apartments, public housing, Aboriginal and migrant families, a large number of single-person households, and one of the State's highest concentrations of rich people, and also one of its highest concentrations of low-income people - including people on the street.

It's also a place with a genuine sense of history; it's resilient and self-reliant, neighbourly and creative.

Show Us Your Woolloomooloo was created as a way of bringing people together to discover what they share, alongside what is different about them.

It took about 20 local people from varied backgrounds, who either live or work in the area, armed them with digital cameras and matched them with 10 professional and amateur photographer-mentors to capture in photographs what they value most about this place and their community - and what they would like to change.

Last night, another mixed group 70 or so people took part in a World Café - a orchestrated series of conversations where people could meet neighbours they had never met, share their experiences, talk about their values and discuss a vision for the future of Woolloomooloo. These conversations were recorded - and are on display here tonight.

Woolloomooloo could be seen as all of Australia captured in this small harbourside basin: a place where the 19th century meets the 21st, where the layers of history - from Aboriginal times through the maritime past to the present are in evidence, a place where the many the races and nationalities of modern Australia are represented.

World Café, and this exhibition, are not simply a wonderful end-result of a great project but are hopefully the start of a process of connecting all the tribes of Woolloomooloo, so that it continues as a unique, vital and thriving city community.

This has been a really inspirational projects and I would like to thank and congratulate all those involved:

  • The project team of Liz Giles, Alastair Rylatt, Lyn Carson, Justin Koonin and Jenny Lovric
  • The project sponsors, Fuji for the cameras and printing; Artspace for providing the space for three days; United Way for their financial support and Hope Street for administering the project and, of course,
  • The photographic mentors

Thanks and congratulations also to the photographers themselves who have created such an evocative and poignant record of contemporary Woolloomooloo, and to all of you who took part in World Café.

I'm delighted to declare the exhibition officially open. Thank you.