Conference paper
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Abstract: There is extensive commentary on the role of public, unauthorised art in western cities, but little on the coincidence of heritage value and guerilla art. This paper analyses the relationship of the two in a statue of a 1940s swimmer entitled Eliza which was unveiled in the Swan River in Crawley, Perth in 2007. It commemorates the Crawley Baths which from 1914 to their demolition in 1964 were one of Perth’s premier meeting places. Eliza was commissioned by the Perth City Council as a monument to a lost place. Since its appearance, however, the statue has functioned not just as a place of memory, but dominantly of guerilla art and public comment. These activities foreground the transgressive potential of the coincidence of a heritage marker and guerilla art. Reading the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter 1999, however, alongside Eliza shows that interpretation which foregrounds transgression is incomplete. The steadily strengthening professional heritage emphasis on social value over the previous dominance of original fabric, suggests that the delight and frivolity - but crucially not vandalism - with which the statue has been greeted, supports evolving heritage practice.

The State of Australian Cities (SOAC) national conferences have been held biennially since 2003 to support interdisciplinary policy-related urban research.

This paper was presented at SOAC 4 held in Perth from 24 to 27 November 2009.

SOAC 4 was hosted by the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University and Murdoch University and held at The University of Western of Australia’s Crawley campus. SOAC 4 was a collaborative venture between colleagues from the planning, geography and related disciplines across the four public universities.

The meta-theme of this conference - city growth, sustainability, vitality and vulnerability – sought to capture the dynamic and complex nature and contexts in which Australian cities find themselves in the early 21st century.

The last decade or so has seen Australian cities and many of their residents benefit from significant economic prosperity. With this economic prosperity, largely on the back of a resources boom, Australian cities and resources and mineral-rich regions, particularly in Queensland and in WA, have been subjected to profound demographic, social, economic, environmental and political changes. In the wake of the so-called ‘global financial crisis’ we have witnessed the rise of what might be called ‘neo-Keynesianism’ as various liberal democratic nations have pumped billions of dollars into their national economies via ‘bail outs’ or a stimulus package’ in an effort to stave off economic recession. The economic prosperity and more recent uncertainty that has been experienced in the last decade provides a fascinating and dare we say it a timely backdrop to critically reflect on the condition of urban Australia.

All published papers have been subject to a peer reviewing process.

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