Northcote Brickworks Quarry

Registration Number
Type of Object
Edition 1 of 5
Northcote Hysterical Society
Archival pigment print on rag paper
When Made
Public Description: 

The photograph, Northcote Brickworks Quarry , is from a series of black and white photographs from the exhibition David Wadelton presents, The Northcote Hysterical Society which was shown at the Bundoora Homestead Art Gallery in 2015. These images, beautifully photographed and reproduced by David, are a wonderful look back at the seventies in and around the northern Melbourne suburb of Northcote.

In 1866, clay for brick production began to be extracted from various holes in the Northcote area. The area known as All Nations Park, Northcote Plaza and the surrounding apartments and car park was once one of the largest brick producing sites in Victoria as it produced the most amount of clay. The clay hole dates from c1872 and at its deepest was 50 metres. The output of clay was staggering, with over 1.5 million bricks every ten days being produced for decades.

By the 1970s suburbia had surrounded the brickworks and in 1977 the quarry was sold to the Northcote Council for use as a tip. The unquarried area to the west of the site remained in the companies hands and included the chimneys and the brickworks buildings. Two years later this area was levelled and the site sold to developers. In 1981 the Northcote Plaza was constructed on the site of the former kilns. The former quarry ceased operating as a tip in 1998 and in 2002 was opened as All Nations Park.

David Wadelton is a local Northcote resident, painter and photographer. Since the early 1980s he has exhibited extensively throughout Australia with regular solo exhibitions at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions from Vision In Disbelief, the 4th Biennale of Sydney in 1982, to Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2013. A survey exhibition of Wadelton’s paintings and photographs, David Wadelton: Icons of Suburbia, was presented by McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery in 2011. Wadelton has embraced social media in his practice, establishing The Northcote Hysterical Society in 2008, which now has thousands of members. He is represented in many state and national collections, including the Australian National Gallery, and the National Gallery of Victoria. In addition to his career as a visual artist, Wadelton has made significant contributions to the field of experimental music in Australia.

Northcote Brickworks Quarry © David Wadelton

Makers Statement: 
Here you will find photos I took of Northcote and environs in the 1970s and early 80s, all in glorious black and white. I moved to Northcote in 1975, attracted by the cheap rent and proximity to the city and public transport. At first I rented a house in Clarke Street, then above a shop in High Street. We bought a house and I'm still here! Wadelton says ‘of the many thousands of negatives I have from the 1970s, the ones I chose to print back then in my home darkroom (with a few exceptions) now seem the least interesting. So many of the negatives that interest me now went right through to the keeper back then. But I kept the negatives and that’s the key.’