On the weekend I came across a new, innovative and exciting method of remembering and celebrating a local ‘urban icon’ in Enmore. The key medium involved was actually………….. instagram!
I know- some people aren’t as much of a fan of it as I am, but well… haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate.
Like many others I have often walked past the Marie Louise Beauty Salon at 135 Enmore Road and have been captivated by its kitschy pink & purple exterior and time capsule-like retro window displays. When the 1960’s style beauty salon ceased trading some time ago the shop was closed up ‘as is’, furniture, till, cosmetics, magazines, blowdryers, counter, mirrors- all remained inside the shop in situ aged only by a thickening coat of dust. The premises became as Vanessa Berry of Mirror Sydney describes it a “Memorial Store”– an important local icon and a landmark for the popular retro, vintage and rockabilly subcultures that call Enmore home.
I’m sure for the 1950’s themed Doughbox Diner crew the decision to occupy the space at 137 Enmore Road was made all the easier by the location right next door to Marie Louise Salon! If you sit outside their diner sipping a thick malt milkshake on a balmy spring night you could easily trick yourself into thinking you have gone back in time to another chapter in Enmore Roads history- a chapter oozing with hair pomade, pastel florals and the giggles of ladies coming out of the salon with a fresh ‘do’.
So when the ‘For Sale’ signs went up in June and the property was successfully sold many community members were left pondering what the next chapter would hold for the Marie Louise Salon. Enter Naomi Doyle (known on her blog & instagram as Patches McGee). Her brother-in-law purchased the property but before it is to be gutted for renovations starting this week Naomi decided to hold an open house clearance sale and display over Sat 9th and Sunday 10th of November. Pin up doyennes, local historians, bloggers, walk-bys, photographers, old timers, instagrammers and self professed voyeurs all came along to snaffle up a piece of local history and to share pictures and stories via the hashtag that Naomi made: #MarieLouiseMemories.
Generally what happens when a Heritage Item or an Item of local significance is up for demolition/refurbishing Council requires the owner or developer to prepare an Archival Report. Often a professional Heritage Consultant is engaged to prepare this report. The archival methodology involves taking extensive photos and writing accompanying written descriptions of the property and its contents which are then collated into the report and filed to Council. The only issues with this process is that
a) These reports are then filed away or put in the stacks of the local library never to be seen again by the vast majority of the population
b) The community doesn’t get to participate or actively engage with the memorialising process
Whilst the Salon isn’t Heritage listed to my knowledge and therefore wouldn’t have required an archival report, the Enmore community certainly believed the shopfront warranted ‘archiving’ of sorts. They rose to the challenge of creating a memorial report of their own choosing – highly visual, filters galore and with that preference for focusing on the minutiae of spaces that instagram tends to encourage.
As you browse through the images under the nominated hashtag people share their stories and memories of the place, why they felt a personal connection, how they will miss it and what purchases they made at the sale and for what reason. The images are live and responsive – just as the Marie Louise objects and kitschy keepsakes will live on via a new lease on life in somebody’s home, balcony or dressing table.
Thanks to Naomi for organising what turned out to be a fascinating exercise in local history and new mediums of memorialisation. Below a few other pictures of some inner west pleasures encountered that day.
Till next time Urbanists !