Memories and Mementos
Ipswich Kitsch Uncovered
What do you know about your town? If we were to show you pictures of your town, things in your town, would you recognize them? Would you be able to say if you’d seen this sight before? We will challenge you with the following photos.
We will start with the kitsch side of our town. While the original word ‘Kitsch’ is a loanword from German meaning cheesiness, tackiness or a low-brow style of mass-produced art or design using popular or cultural icons in modern days it is a more broad term, covering things retro, cute and sometimes slightly kooky.
Have you ever passed a house that has a rubber tire swan? A concrete donkey planter, a windmill, a miniature hills hoist and a pink flamingo? Then you have seen kitsch in all its tacky and lovable glory.
With a long history and a population as varied as anywhere, Ipswich hosts all manner of kitschenalia within its many suburbs. Ipswich is all about the people and it takes all kinds to make a place interesting, so when I see these houses with a little pop of kitsch, I think it is well worth documenting. What better way to make your house stand out than to add an unconventional pop of colour or a funny or ironic statue.
Different eras of Australian history offer different garden ornaments. The once popular concrete aboriginal statues, quite common in the 1970’s when society was less aware of the cultural and political significance of displaying these items, are now hard to find. You could question why they are still around at all.
Could it be due to the long standing intergenerational residency of Ipswich, or could it be the nostalgic few who couldn’t stand to see these relics of a bygone era fade away without a trace or is it part of a proud tradition of the good Australian citizen to proudly display their salute to the original owners of the land.
While the life of the Pink Flamingo ornament began in 1957 in Massachusetts, United States their popularity spread around the world and for each owners individual reasoning, they can be spotted in many a garden in Ipswich.
The Concrete Donkey is another common sight about our town, how many times have you seen this friendly fellow? Little can be found about their provenance but they seem to have found their place in a number of Ipswich gardens. No kitsch tour of Ipswich would be complete without spotting a concrete swan or two (or three or four).
While some garden ornaments are quite common, others may just surprise you with their ingenuity and personality. Have you seen the house with a bicycle up a tree? The giant hand sculptures? Or the house with a car sticking out of the front wall? Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as you travel around Ipswich. You could even make a game of it.