James Henry

Parkies of Old Fitzroy by James Henry

Image: James Henry, Parkies of Old Fitzroy, Robert ‘Doodah’ Lovett at the Stolen Generations Marker, Atherton Gardens, Fitzroy 2019. Courtesy the artist. Image Bernie Phelan.

This compelling video work weaves together images from a large suite of black and white photographs made by James Henry in 2019. Celebrating the local mob known as ‘Parkies’, this intimate series of portraits is projected at a momentous scale onto a massive red brick wall in a small, but very popular, park just behind Smith Street in Collingwood.

Fitzroy, Collingwood and surrounding areas are historically significant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It is a meeting place; the cradle of Aboriginal affairs; the heart of social and political activism; the birthplace of important Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services and organisations; and the place where many Stolen Generations found family for the first time.

People came to Fitzroy to connect with community, they gathered around Atherton Gardens, a place that came to be known as ‘the park’. Those who regularly occupied the parks came to refer to themselves as the ‘Parkies’. For a long time they have gathered in locations around Fitzroy and Collingwood. This is their meeting place; they come here to share what they have, to feel connected and to tell a story or play a song.

Parkies of Old Fitzroy by James Henry was part of the Yarra City Arts Peel Street Park Projection Program, from 26 May – 12 July, 2020