On Parramatta Road
``All we are is a pair of eyes`` Dave Perkins, a Signaler at the only place where trains cross on Parramatta Road, once told me. He'd been observing the same view from a 12x12 signal box for 30 years.
I was jealous of his job. At that point, I had been photographing Parramatta Road for around two years. Trying to find out how you make work as a set of eyes overlooking around 20 suburbs across 24kms. Partly these are lessons in how to be invisible, accepted or tolerated in a huge array of industries and workplaces, without a signal box to hide in.
Observing others teaches you a different way of life, ditching work to travel in the suburbs, booking hotel rooms fifteen minutes from home, entering industries I'd never need to buy from, some which felt like a foreign country three steps off the curb.
I noticed the importance of committing time and money toward doing things you don't need to do. Of obeying impulses other than practicality.
At some point of trying to figure out how you get to know a road, I realised I had recorded fractions of many lives, pulled like frames from many films. Moments that happen daily almost always unrecorded. Linked by one road and one witness.
Brothel cleaners texting while they wait for the clients to finish. Car salesman locking the door for the day, leaving a mannequin in the dark. Council gardeners changing the numerical hedge to mark another year. Clown school graduation ceremonies and medical practitioners who will find a cure for you without asking what is wrong.
This work is a field study of a subtle and dusty eco system. The things left growing, struggling or surviving against the odds where no one is looking. Initiatives and new starts in life planted there out of necessity.
By looking in on human industry (both recreational and industrial) I came to know an unlikely and resilient muse: strong, ancient, complex, toxic and generous. And found much evidence of life on a road believed to be dead.