REZZA + 'VOIR Laneway Festival Wrap Up

over 1 year ago

Saturday 16 February saw the launch of installed public art works by Sarah Rudledge in two central Reservoir laneways. The event was a great success, transforming the laneways into a new public space for the local community to enjoy.

We would like to pass on a special thanks to all those who came along and helped us launch, a particular thanks to the surrounding traders, especially Australia Post, NAB, Barry Plant, Reservoir Spectacles, Direct Chemist Outlet, Perfect Group, I Talk Travel, Shoes Direct, Kids on Broadway and the Reservoir Traders Association and all the other local businesses who generously gave their time to Sarah as part of the art installation.

We would like to thank the Decibels for programming the music acts and to Nightlight, Gaia Meera and Virgil's Devil for performing. Also to Fairway Dance School for the spectacular flash mobs!

Mayor of Darebin Cr Susan Rennie launch speech capturing the event and it's significance to the local community is now available below - have a read!

Thank you and welcome everyone,

Ngargma Wurundjeri Kulin Mirambeekal bik wenrop Darebin bagungbul arweet dharri Ba gahookal nanggit bambuth ba yalingbu.

I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people, who are the custodians of the land on which Darebin stands, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

Reservoir is changing, isn’t it?

But then Reservoir has been changing for a long time now. That’s the nature of working class suburbs with good public transport connections to the inner city and CBD, with a healthy retail and business centre like we have here.

Reservoir has a great foundation and is in the process of constant revitalization.

Reservoir’s central shopping area, Edwardes Street and Broadway contains many well-established and iconic businesses, providing great old-fashioned customer service and an old-world charm, rarely seen in other shopping centres.

New waves of migrants have long made Rezza their home.

In the 50s Rezza changed from being a mostly Anglo-Irish community with large numbers of Italians and Greeks making their homes here.

Those new communities left their mark, as has every single community that’s called Rezza home since then.

Nearly 2 in 5 residents in Rezza were born overseas, that’s higher than Darebin as a whole. And for residents born overseas, the most common countries of origin are Italy, India, China, Greece and Vietnam. According to the 2016 Census, there are 57 languages spoken in Reservoir.

Rezza today is not the same as it was 25 years ago, and I’m sure it will be different in 2040 too, but it will still be special.

Over the last decade, Reservoir has started the process of gentrification that Darebin has seen in Northcote and Fairfield, and is underway in Preston.

The Reservoir population is growing by over 1,000 people each year, and it’s forecast to continue at that rate.

The type of new arrivals to Reservoir is a mix of migrants, with new arrivals coming from India and China, along with dozens of other countries.

But also, there’s a newer trend of people coming from other parts of Melbourne, and interstate, to make their homes here.

Average incomes are heading up, and the proportion of people attending university, and with University qualifications, is rising.

Reservoir is not an affluent area overall. Both within Darebin and compared with Victoria.

The shops and businesses that surround us are a vital part of what makes Reservoir special; a place where traders know their customers by name, where you can find something unique, for a bargain price.

The laneway where we stand now, and where this artwork is placed, are highly used pedestrian routes around the shops.

They weren’t designed that way, but that’s what they’ve become. I’m delighted to share these improvements with you and celebrate them with the posters and video installation to follow.

Streetscapes promote the ‘look and feel’ of an area, and can play a key role in determining the success of a retail area.

They can play a role in increasing pedestrian and cyclist activity in the area.

Streetscapes can create an attractive place for people to visit.

They can provide cultural opportunities and a new social dimension, like today, which bring communities together, provide meeting places and foster social ties.

And streetscapes can shape the cultural identity of an area. Good streets are part of its unique character and provide a sense of place for local communities – what makes Reservoir even more special.

I want to take this opportunity to let you know about our involvement in the removal of the level crossing at Reservoir too. You’ll be aware that the State Government is removing it, which we campaigned for and think will improve the area, once complete.

City of Darebin is keeping an eye on the work, and providing feedback to the construction team. We are working hard to ensure that the project allows us to further develop the economic opportunities for Reservoir.

We want to ensure that there’s room for a future tram route that connects Preston to La Trobe University. Rezza could become the hub of public transport in the north, and a home for people studying and working at La Trobe.

We know there’s going to be disruption to traders and residents while the work to remove the level crossing takes place, so please contact Council with any problems or concerns you have.

Now to tonight.

Reservoir’s existing network of laneways are the ‘forgotten spaces in between buildings’.

Council wants to encourage people to use these laneways, and improve the experience of using them, by making them more pedestrian friendly. The art project is part of that plan, but it also includes restricting vehicular access to sections of the laneways, improving the laneways’ amenity, lighting and overall perception of safety.

The REZZA + VOIR project is a celebration of Reservoir's diverse community. This public art project tells a participatory story wall that will explore connection to place in the community of Reservoir and a linking of the two laneways between Edwardes Street and Spring Street.

The two laneways have been temporarily named Rezza Boulevard & Voir Lane. Over the duration of the project, local artist Sarah Rudledge will develop different ‘chapters’ of the story wall with themes such as trade, gardening and sports. So please come back often to check out the changes.

The ‘chapters’ are showcased along the wall of the laneways via large scale posters and a video projection curated by Sarah.

Other installations by Sarah include the colourful ground art and the beautiful neon signs at either end of the laneways.

The project kicks off with Chapter 1: Making it in Rezza - an exploration of running a small business in Reservoir or selling things that are made or crafted by hand locally. A big thank you to all those who have contributed to this chapter!

Reservoir is special. The art project captures that beautifully.

Reservoir may not be conventionally beautiful, it isn’t always what some would call cool. It doesn’t want to be South Yarra.

But it is unique. And Council will work hard to keep it that way.

Cr Susan Rennie, REZZA + 'VOIR Laneway event. Saturday 16 February, 2019
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