Author Archives: Susan Arthure

Remembering ‘the everyday’ using community maps

The data from the recent Marion Cultural Heritage Survey is equivalent to a vast store of local knowledge and stories. Knowledge about the Sturt River, the vineyards and almond groves. Stories of the people who helped build Marion, from the famous, like Colonel Light, through to nineteenth century families like the Westerns, Hamiltons and Shearings who settled in the area, to the Bulgarian immigrant in the 1950s who built three small shops on Marion Road by hand, and the local man who kept the Marino cliff top walk tidy and freshly planted. So what to do with it? How to get it out there so that others know about it too?

Developing cultural or community maps is one way of protecting and managing this sort of knowledge. Cultural mapping encourages people to celebrate the ordinary and the everyday, the things that may not usually be recorded, but that build a sense of place.

In the UK, community maps, known as ‘parish maps’, have been used as a means of community engagement, with the maps taking various forms, such as posters, photo collages, paintings and movies. Other ways of capturing local heritage include creating ABCs as a way of portraying a place and starting the process of understanding what it means. Details from a parish map and an ABC are shown below.

An alternative way of mapping stories is to present them digitally. A digital story telling project, the Wangaratta Digital Quilt, was carried out in Victoria as part of a project called Generations Wangaratta. The digital quilt initiative was intended to encourage storytelling and the sharing of stories between generations. It includes a series of short films and interviews with local residents and visitors. They are presented in the form of a digital quilt (see images below) where users can click on a picture to see and hear more information.

Wangaratta Digital Quilt home page

Wangaratta Digital Quilt

Wangaratta Digital Quilt (Images from http://www.wangarattadigitalquilt.com.au)

Susan Arthure

Further reading:
Clifford, S. 2011 Local distinctiveness: Everyday places and how to find them. In J. Schofield and R. Szymanski (eds) Local Heritage, Global Context: Cultural Perspectives on Sense of Place, pp.13-32. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing.

Overlap between official and unofficial heritage

When people identify places that are important to them, do they overlap with those that have been deemed important officially? The recent City of Marion Cultural Heritage Survey explored the unofficial heritage of the community. It also helped to illustrate crossover points where professional and public opinions regarding heritage overlap.

There was certainly an overlap in the Marion Historic Village, where several buildings are listed officially as having heritage value, either on the SA Heritage Register or as Local Heritage Places. These buildings were noted by many survey respondents, who also identified the remnant almond orchard along Oliphant Avenue as important. Almonds were once one of the main tourist attractions in Marion, with thousands of visitors coming on tour buses every July up until the 1950s to view the almond blossom. Although the almond orchards are no longer part of the Marion landscape, they live on in people’s memories, and the remnants are important tangible reminders of the past.

The Sturt River featured in many survey responses because of the importance of the remaining river red gums, scarred trees, the bike track, its history of flooding before the drainage scheme, its bridges, the wetlands and dense vegetation, connection with the Kaurna people, and the sound of the river flowing. Although the survey comments applied to the Sturt River in its entirety as it crosses the Marion Council area, there is no official heritage acknowledgement of the river, except that it flows through the state heritage-listed Warriparinga area. There is an interpretive tile near the river, however, as part of the historic walk in the Marion Historic Village.

Sturt River interpretive tile

Interpretive tile near the Sturt River in the Marion Historic Village

Another natural element recorded in the survey was the Moreton Bay fig tree in the Fisk Avenue Reserve at Glengowrie. Again, there is some overlap between official and unofficial heritage. This tree was previously recorded in a 1990 heritage survey of Marion, and noted as the dominant feature of the reserve. In fact, the Council bought some of the land at the time to ensure that a proposed new development wouldn’t damage the tree.

Moreton Bay fig tree

Moreton Bay fig tree at Fisk Avenue Reserve, Glengowrie

It’s fair to say that the survey responses revealed a broad view of what’s important to local people. Some of the places recorded as important are already recognised officially on the list of Local Heritage Places or in the SA Heritage Register. However, more are considered important primarily by the local community, for example, trees and the river, but also the Westfield Marion Shopping Centre, local reserves and children’s playgrounds. They lend themselves to recording and recognition through oral histories, community maps, plantings and interpretive signage.

Susan Arthure

Savouring Caviar in Marion

Morphettville Racecourse is the last remaining horse racing course in metropolitan Adelaide. It’s on the northern boundary of the Marion council area, surrounded by stables and houses. There are a number of ways it contributes to the cultural heritage of the area. The races of course. And the fact that the 1913 grandstand is on the SA Heritage Register. But it is also a large green space, with a wetland, in a suburb. Stable owners leave bags of horse manure outside for people to take for their gardens. In fact, you can even turn up with a shovel and take it yourself if you wish – horseshoes turn up frequently.

Road sign near Morphettville racecourse showing black racehorse on yellow background

Road sign near Morphettville racecourse

On 12 May this year, when Black Caviar won her 21st consecutive race at 4.20pm, making a new Australian record, there was a sell-out crowd of 30,000 at the racecourse. As well as the paying crowd inside the course, a group of people numbering about 150 gathered at the perimeter fence at the rear of the racecourse near the starting point – all ages, and arriving mainly on foot from the surrounding houses.

As the horses rode up to the starting boxes, there was a great deal of murmuring to children about Black Caviar, and some queries between strangers about which horse exactly she was. The starting gun fired, the horses raced off and the crowd dispersed … as far as the nearby traffic management van where the two workers had increased the volume on their radio so that the crowd could hear the race. Black Caviar won, everybody clapped, and nodded and smiled at each other, and then went back to whatever they were doing beforehand.

Tangible and intangible heritage – I’ve been pondering on this for the past couple of months, and how their combination helps to defines cultural significance. The grandstand, the racecourse, the horse manure – all tangible items (although the manure is also ephemeral). The experience of Black Caviar is a shared intangible experience – we can’t re-create it, or experience it again, we can only remember it. And in saying that, a week after the race I came across one graffiti artist’s endeavour at capturing the essence of the moment, on a water tank at the rear of the racecourse, and successfully blending the intangible memory and the tangible expression of contemporary art.

Black Caviar graffiti on water tank

Black Caviar graffiti on water tank at rear of Morphettville racecourse

Susan Arthure

Cultural Heritage and Little Marion

This semester, I’m doing a directed study in conjunction with the City of Marion. This involves analysis of the results from a cultural heritage survey called ‘Stories of Our City: Now and Then’. The survey is currently underway, and it aims to collect information and ideas about the community’s living cultural heritage. It closes soon, so if you are a Marion resident, hurry along and fill it in! It can be accessed via the City of Marion website at http://www.marion.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=50&c=8140.

In preparation for the analysis, I’ve been doing some background reading and exploring. Driving along Marion Road in recent years, I’ve been struck by the statue of a little girl lying on the ground and peering into a hole, at the corner of Finniss Street and Marion Road. She just seemed to appear there one day. And cycling along the Sturt Creek on another occasion, I noticed her looking over a bridge. She’s about 1.2 metres tall, and always has fresh ribbons in her hair.

It turns out that she’s called Little Marion. The first statue I met, on the corner of Finniss and Marion, is called Little Marion Peering. She’s gazing into the Western Family Well, which was about 26 metres deep and could be quite treacherous.

Little Marion Peering

Little Marion Peering

Little Marion Skipping is located nearby in the grounds of Annie Doolan’s Cottage, which was built as a convent in 1876 for Mary MacKillop’s Sisters of St Joseph. She’s in what was most likely the playground.

Little Marion Skipping

Little Marion Skipping

At the entrance to the Marion Historic Village, Little Marion Welcoming swings on a farm gate.

Little Marion Welcoming

Little Marion Welcoming

And on the Finniss Street Bridge, Little Marion Pondering looks out over the Sturt Creek, and ponders on children playing in the river, swimming, catching tadpoles and daydreaming.

Little Marion Pondering

Little Marion Pondering

In the George Street Reserve, Little Marion Waiting sits on bricks from the original brickworks, and waits for her turn at hopscotch.

Little Marion Waiting

Little Marion Waiting

The Little Marion sculptures were created by Gerry McMahon, based on a 2008 book called ‘Yesterday’s Child’ by Margaret Western. They are great examples of public art that has been well planned and beautifully executed. Even without additional information, they can stand alone as a local statement of childhood.

The interpretive information near the sculptures is related, but not necessarily exactly about the sculptures. For example, near Little Marion Peering, a quote on an interpretive plaque refers to the cobwebs on the well – ‘When little children are missing in The Marion, everyone runs to the wells first. If there are cobwebs across the top of the big hole that is a good sign, because if anyone had fallen down, the cobwebs would be broken’.

The Little Marion sculptures showcase a part of Marion’s community heritage. And the fresh ribbons? A local woman replaces them regularly – it’s a good deed, but she’s also part of the community’s living cultural heritage.

Susan Arthure

The 2011 Warriparinga archaeology field school

By Graduate Student Susan Arthure

The Warriparinga Archaeological Field Methods School took place from 11 to 21 April 2011. A group of twenty graduate students joined four Flinders University staff for a two week blitz of navigation, mapping and surveying.

Living Kaurna Cultural Centre

Living Kaurna Cultural Centre, Warriparinga

Warriparinga is located in a ‘triangle’ of land in the Marion Council area, just a short walk down the hill from Flinders University. The name comes from a Kaurna term meaning ‘windy place by the river’ and it is both a Kaurna ceremonial meeting place and a European early settlement site. For the Kaurna people, it plays a central role in the Tjirbruki Dreaming – Warriparinga was where Tjirbruki avenged the unlawful killing of his nephew. In the post-contact years, the Warriparinga area was the site of vineyards and orchards, a homestead (Fairford House) and wine cellars. Today, the new Living Kaurna Cultural Centre sits alongside the nineteenth century Fairford House, between the sculptural Tjirbruki Gateway and the original cottage style gardens, with the Sturt Creek running alongside.

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