'There is always another history or a more private story underneath the public face of any city, of any suburb,' wrote Sophie Cunningham in her acclaimed 2011 book, Melbourne. In Cunningham’s latest project, she continues to excavate these histories, and Melbourne’s shifting boundaries.
What is the history and logic of the current boundaries of the City of Melbourne, and what do we discover when we walk them? Where were the borders, limits and landmarks of the area pre-colonisation, and do they relate in any way to the boundary lines we have today? How do we manage resources, like water, that don’t care about boundaries at all?
Writer Sophie Cunningham and photographer Dianna Wells have been walking and documenting the defining boundaries of the City of Melbourne as part of the city’s Arts Grants program. Join them for a fascinating discussion with historian Gary Presland and water engineer Professor Tony Wong.
Supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program.
Sophie Cunningham is the author of five books, the most recent of which is City of Trees: Essays on Life, Death & the Need for a Forest. She is a former publisher, former editor of Meanjin, former Chair of the Literature Board of the Australia Council and was a co-founder of The Stella Prize. She is an Adjunct Professor with RMIT's Non/fiction lab.
Dianna Wells is a Melbourne based photographic artist and has also been the owner and director of a graphic design company for more than twenty years. She has exhibited two solo exhibitions of fine art photography 'On Edge' (2012) and 'Suburban Geometric' (2014), exploring themes related to the intersection of the natural landscape, and human intervention on the urban edge of Australian cities. Wells is interested in the conditions of change and the impacts of these changes, specifically within boundaries between urban and rural transitions and more recently in inner city Melbourne.
Dr Gary Presland is an archaeologist, historian and author. His principal interests are in the landscapes and Aboriginal culture of pre-European Melbourne.
Tony Wong is Professor and Chief Executive of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities with research hubs in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Singapore. He is internationally recognised for his research and practice in the water-sensitive cities approach. His work on Water Sensitive Urban Design has been disseminated globally, and his subsequent transformation of this practice into the more holistic water-sensitive cities approach has been mainstreamed across Australia, and increasingly in developing nations.