Recently a mural by Studio Dennis went up in Marrickville for Mirvac developers. There were some critics who were adamant that this was a further sign of gentrification. Sydney is a hot spot for development as developers have open slather these days but when you look at it gentrification has been in play since before the housing boom. The potential was always there but it took quite a while for developers to get to market. If you consider the general populace of Surry Hills and Darlinghurst in the 90s you had hospitality as the first sign of gentrification. These small wonders for the eye and stomach were the first encroachers and at the time a little luxury even though brief for most was welcome. Now Surry Hills is mostly gentrified yet there are still small parts that haven’t changed much.
So what did we do with the first signs of gentrified living? We lived in hope that maybe in years to come we could enjoy these delights. Yet did anyone actually prepare for the coming onslaught? I know of people who did studying architecture and pulling themselves up by the bootstraps they eventually made their way into a permanent gentrified position. Well what about the rest of us? We simply played dumb. We just tried to ignore it and kept moving into smaller and smaller pockets of Sydney. What are you supposed to do though become a lawyer just to get by? What of all the failing artists and struggling everybody else? Well it seems to be too late to find any other way around it. The inner city is almost gone. Everything is premium. There are jobs for tourists or for those who want to live 9 per room in the city.
The truth is there won’t be much left going forward unless we have a crash which won’t be happening when we have overseas buyers and plenty of options. The whole mess isn’t the artists fault who are working for developers it is the simply the market. The market being the god of our current world. The market is merciless leaving Sydney with a forever growing homeless population. A few years ago people were upset that the homeless were shitting on the streets. Nobody cares about their plight but about their toilet habits while public toilets were locked anyway. Thankfully the toilets are always open, what a relief and a solution to boot. May I ask why are we happy with these types of solutions?
Would it be that maybe we live in hope? We live in hope for a little more luxury even though currently we can’t always always afford it? Isn’t it the same attitude we adopted in the 90s? That it would all just work itself out and we could get a nice coffee or meal here and there. People who spoke of mobilising didn’t actually do anything in the world of money. A hundred people could have bought a warehouse? Or could they have? The only answers the whole time actually had to do with money. That coarse encroacher. Why is money the only answer and why does it always remain so? That is simply how the world we live in works now. Even religious cults bought land decades ago. They understood. They didn’t need to be lawyers or doctors but simply organised.
We can’t really complain now when the last vestiges are gone. Some went into the country and lived in rural towns. They created new audiences and found a place for themselves where developers will be slow to come. The rest of us need to invest in something other than slander. It has been going on for decades and will only get worse. Sydney will be unrecognisable in the next decade. It is sad but we can’t even put a bad word in.
Because you can knock these artists but at the end of the day it is only art and what really matters is gone to those who can afford it. We can’t just live in hope because soon even hope will be gone. We may not even be able to afford little luxuries. Lack of foresight is our own fault. The market is for the highest bidder.