The photo fence: Artists hold the love affair of the Darwin homeowners with high fences

Some wrap Darwin’s houses in gnarled mesh, while others stand like barbed guards who separate the street from those who live inside.

Creative collaborators Jennifer Pinkerton and Johanna Bell were both intrigued by the numerous fences in the Northern Territory capital as they moved into town from the interstate.

“It’s a pretty big phenomenon and something unique to Darwin,” Ms. Bell told 105.7 ABC Darwin.

“There are tall cyclone fences and black plastic and just a lot of fences. I was wondering why?”

“There was quite a bit of nostalgia for old Darwin,” said Ms. Bell.

105.7 ABC Darwin: Emilia Terzon


That inquiry initially took Ms. Bell to the Darwin Public Library to investigate the reasons for the widespread use of cyclone fencing in the city.

Ms. Bell wondered if the appearance of those woven metal fences helped protect people from cyclone debris or let storm winds pass without a dangerous barrier.

It turns out the phenomenon is removed from Darwin’s story of the Christmas disasters and the rainy season cataclysms.

“It’s actually named for an American company called Cyclone Fencing who invented the technology of weaving metal together,” she said.

However, this discovery sparked a further desire to document examples of different types of fences through a series of photos – from low and nostalgic to new and imposing.

The search started with Ms. Bell and Ms. Pinkerton “driving around” in a car together and taking quick photos, but it eventually evolved into something more human-related.

“I think we didn’t really expect people to see us spying on their fences,” Ms. Pinkerton said.

“People were so ready to open up and tell their stories behind their fences. It was a magical thing.”

A photo of a smiling woman. “People were so willing to open up and tell the stories behind their fences. It was a magical thing,” said Ms. Pinkerton.

105.7 ABC Darwin: Emilia Terzon


Some of these stories spanned three generations, such as a Greek migrant with a faded yellow wooden fence hand-built over seven weeks in 1983.

“It was much more worn than in its original form, which he was very ashamed of,” said Ms. Bell.

“He was so proud of his fence, but now that it was dilapidated, he had mixed feelings.”

Others complained about the trend away from low-lying, neighborhood wrought-iron fences to the high barriers that now mark many of the city’s suburbs.

“There was quite a bit of nostalgia for old Darwin,” said Ms. Bell.

“The fence pride took me quite a surprise. This was more than a boundary or a marker. This was a form of expression. Something they thought was their way of communicating with the community.”

One of the duo’s favorite photos is a woman standing in their front yard. Your joy hides a traditional and inconspicuous cyclone fence.

A photo of a smiling woman. “All you can see is that warm smile and conversation. These fences allow for a meeting and greeting,” said Ms. Bell.

105.7 ABC Darwin: Emilia Terzon


“All you can see is this warm smile and conversation,” said Ms. Bell.

“”[I have realised] The cyclone fence is of remarkable quality. If it is not covered with black plastic, conversations can be held.

“That doesn’t happen with a traditional fence.”

The Photo Fence is a free photo series suitably displayed on a cyclone fence on the corner of Bennett Street and Cavenagh Street throughout August.

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