An exhibition on the theme of women architects, town planners and landscape architects in Central Australia ran the risk of being a little thin, feared Anne Scherer when she voluntarily took on the task to mark Australian Women's History Month – March, of course – at the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame.
The theme is set nationally by the Australian Women's History Forum. Ms Scherer was well aware of architect Susan Dugdale, whose imprint can be seen in many corners of Alice Springs, but who else? She uncovered quite a diverse history, including the existence of Helen Tippett, likely to have been the first female architect to practice in town, back in the 1950s, after completing her training in Melbourne.
Ms Scherer's research, attractively presented in the women's cell block of the old gaol that houses the Hall of Fame, reminds us of other women who have left their mark in different ways on the built environment of Alice Springs, broadening the terms of the exhibition to include artists such as Cedar Prest, Kaye Kessing, Pip McManus, and Sally Mumford.
Susan Dugdale, who arrived in Alice in 1994, establishing her own practice in 2000, was present at the opening on Sunday. She reflected on what had made her stay – it came down to job satisfaction, being able to make a contribution through her designs to people's lives. She contrasted her last Melbourne job, which was working on a four bedroom house renovation for a couple whose children had left home, with the social purposefulness of many of the projects she has worked on here. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured, left to right: Creator of the exhibition, Anne Scherer with architects Miriam Wallace and Susan Dugdale.
The revitalisation of the CBD is about a lot more than the opening of the northern end of the Todd Mall to traffic ... but what exactly?
That people, including the media, find it difficult to say reflects the absence of any kind of everyday imagining about what it could and should mean. When the Town Council last Monday formally voted that it would proceed to spend the NT Government's $5m allocation on the recommended works for the northern end of the mall and for Parsons Street, they did so without a murmur. That brought to a conclusion a process during which the council, who are the trustees of the mall, have really never been heard on the subject of its revitalisation.
All along Mayor Damien Ryan was the co-chair (with Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton) of a steering committee involved in the planning. Whenever the Alice Springs News Online asked for a comment on where the process was at, Mayor Ryan said it was for the Minister to say – not his follow co-chair, but Planning Minister Gerry McCarthy.
When there was finally, right at the end of the process, a public meeting to present the projects developed by the design consultants, the Mayor was away on other business. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Mayor Liz Martin, who did make a few comments, but they fell short of expressing a 'vision' – an over-used word but nonetheless a necessary concept when it comes to thinking about and deciding where we, collectively, want to go. KIERAN FINNANE comments.