Growing up in Somerset, UK, my move to Australia was a revelation in contrasts. Red, dirt and wide-open spaces, seemingly endless roads cutting across empty landscapes under enormous skies. The environment was so different to anything that I had experienced back home. And then I arrived in Bridgetown. Red dirt gave way to rolling hills and green landscapes that faded to soft yellows and browns in hotter months. There was rain and the need for a jumper most evenings. It felt familiar. Still under the vast unending Australian skies and treading on red dirt beneath the green grass, but I knew that this place was my home.
Now, as time has passed and I have become a part of this town, it is the people rather than the physical landscape that inspire my art. In this small corner of Australia’s largest state, there is a strong and colourful community drawn from every corner of the world. We have artists, teachers, craftsmen, poets, those who have come to escape society’s norms and those who have helped to create those norms. There are the people of the land, those who are still farming the farms of their grandparents and great-grandparents, and there are the new arrivals. Together, we all create this place that we call Bridgetown.
This book has been created to capture a moment in time- to preserve Bridgetown’s reality upon the occasion of her 150th anniversary. It seeks to reveal a cross-section of our little society, not only those who hold high office or are descended from the founding families, it is a tribute to what this town has become, the ways that she has grown and changed across her 150 years. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating this tribute- the chance to learn people’s stories, to peer through a window into their lives for a brief moment. I am so proud to live amongst these people, to be a part of this very special town.
I would like to acknowledge all those who have given their time and energy to this book. To my husband, Lukas, for his constant support; to Emilie Abbiss for crafting these words and her general editing help; to Jeff Baker for his keen layout-oriented eye; to Jenny Mountford for mentoring me through this process; to Steve Dean, the documentary film maker with whom I have collaborated, for broadcasting some of these wonderful stories; and to Pip and Liam Mills for so generously sharing their knowledge and networks. And, of course, to the men, women and children of Bridgetown: this book is for you and about you. Without your generous spirit and willingness to open your doors and hearts to my lens, none of this would have been possible. Thank you all so much.
-Victoria May Baker
© Victoria Baker 2018