In the foreground of a seemingly generic urbanscape, a hand sewn vampire mask sits on the road. Full impact of this juxtaposition requires awareness of Redfern's cultural history, in particular its significance for Aboriginal people. This history starts with the Gadigal clan whose guardianship extends logically to present day descendants. Following the second world war, many families migrated from regional Australia for opportunities which larger cities like Sydney appeared to offer. Inner suburbs like Redfern provided access to employment and marginal housing. Over time a supportive community formed and by the seventies innovative projects were undertaken in co-operation with government entities. One example was the housing initiative known as “the block”, arguably the first successful land rights claim in Australia. By the eighties, a new wave of inner city rejuvenation and residential development had commenced. Aboriginal locals were increasingly marginalised, often poorly served by those elected to defend their interests. Ironically Australian prime minister Paul Keating delivered his 1992 speech at Redfern Park. This acknowledged the original dispossession of land and subsequent consequences for indigenous people. Under subsequent governments, social and material conditions for Aboriginals living in Redfern deteriorated. Civil unrest occurred in 2004 after a police incident resulting in the death of a teenage boy. By 2011 the block was demolished to provide land for the financially driven Pemulwuy Project. Despite numerous appeals from displaced and former residents, there's no guarantee the new development will rehouse many of the original tenants let alone support the cultural and practical needs of a contemporary urbanised indigenous community.
Price realised at auction $417