F5: Footscray in Transition – at home with James Voller

In the fourth instalment of a five year photographic project that depicts the changing face of Footscray, James Voller explores how the concept of home is evolving here.

What is your connection with Footscray?

In 2010, I had my first exhibition in Melbourne at the Trocadero Arts Space in Footscray, it’s great to see the gallery still going. My wife also has a connection to the area as she lived here in 2004 when she first arrived in Australia from New Zealand. Since I moved to Melbourne in 2012 I have regularly photographed the area and eaten some of Footscray’s great Vietnamese food.

The F5 project is about documenting a changing Footscray. What do you see as the biggest changes to the area?

The massive investment recently into public infrastructure and transport. Since 2010, the changes to central Footscray are visibly dramatic. The amount of apartment blocks shows that where and how people are living here is changing.

James’ photograph of one of the sites documented in each F5 exhibition, Nicholson Street Mall

How do you describe your exhibition?

My exhibition explores documentary photography and community engagement. The public artworks I have created place photographs of houses from the area on different buildings and structures around Footscray. In doing so I hope to prompt an examination of how Footscray has changed, and in particular, the changes where and how people are living.

Locations of James’ public artworks, part of his exhibition


Your exhibition focuses on the home. What have you learnt about homes in Footscray?

Footscray has always had people migrating to it and this is the case currently. There are a lot of old workers’ cottages with large backyards from the past that are being replaced by medium density residential housing. As more people move to the area, the look and style of the houses is changing.

Public artwork being applied to the wall at the front of the Footscray Town Hall
James’ artwork being applied to the wall at the front of the Footscray Town Hall

What do you find most interesting about Footscray?

The amount of different cultures meeting on top of a colonial past. As a result, there is a vibrant high street culture which I haven’t found elsewhere in Australasia.

The 2015, F5: Footscray in Transition exhibition is showing at VU at MetroWest, 9 February to 29 March and can be seen at various site across Footscray (see map above).

Main picture: James’ artwork on Footscray Hotel