March 23, 2017

Katoomba Gentrification Project (2011-)

This ongoing self-commissioned project documents Katoomba’s gradual gentrification and observes both urban decay and renewal. Katoomba has historically had boom and bust cycles, being dependent on tourism to prosper. The series focuses on changes in architecture and streetscapes as measures of social change. Gentrification is a complex process which creates renewal but also causes displacement for some in the community. The arrival of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in 2012 marked the beginning of a transformation in the area. In the series, the Cultural Centre is represented under construction in 2011 and in heavy mist. Images of a video shop closing down also marks a change in era. ‘Before and after’ photographs of the Beverly Place street art project document a cultural shift in Katoomba as such projects are a popular way in which many towns have attempted to reimage urban landscapes. Other images include the Cecil Hotel prior to its redevelopment and the broken neon sign of the Niagara building with the letter ‘A’ hanging upside down. The series reflects on Katoomba’s past as much as its present and acknowledges documentary photography as a nostalgic medium.
Text and images by Andrew Merry