‘Suburban Baroque’: The Glorious Décor of Melbourne’s Post-War Migrants

Tuesday July 16, 2019 Written by Kate


There’s a particular style of home décor endemic to the formerly working-class northern suburbs of Melbourne, a popular post-war landing place for European immigrants. You know the look when you see it: concrete courtyards, busy tile floors, leather sofas, marble columns, religious tchotchkes and varying shades of brown. It’s the ornate, over-the-top and endearingly eccentric look of your nonna’s house or the Franco Cozzo showroom. 

Melbourne artist and photographer David Wadelton, who lives in the suburb of Northcote and runs the Northcote Hysterical Society Facebook page, is a bit of a cultural anthropologist of the city’s gentrifying north side. Wadelton’s latest book, Suburban Baroque, is his photographic tribute to the interior design aesthetic of Melbourne’s migrant communities. There’s an underlying bittersweetness to the images, as they memorialise the lives of a generation of Australians slowly disappearing from the communities they made their home. Their houses are so delightfully kitschy, they seem to flout our modern predilection for Scandi minimalism – the preferred style of the gentrifiers replacing them. 

Wadelton’s Suburban Baroque will be available from M.33 in August. Until then, you can check out a selection of snaps from the book at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Fitzroy, Melbourne.