Exhibition recalls Geelong’s past as Fordtown

August 19, 2021 BY

An image from “Fordtown”, an exhibition by Kaitlyn Church now on show at Platform Arts.

Platform Arts is holding a special two-week exhibition dedicated to historic manufacturing giant the Ford Motoring Company and the city it once called home.

Opening earlier this month, Fordtown is an expanded documentary project by visual artist Kaitlyn Church that explores the impact that the closure of the Ford Motor Company’s manufacturing facilities has had on the city of Geelong. On October 7, 2016, the last engine rolled off the assembly line in North Geelong, thus ending the 91-year manufacturing history between the Ford Motor Company and the city. The identity of Geelong has been linked to the local Ford factory since it began operation in 1925. Ford’s arrival allowed Geelong to enjoy the same type of wealth and prosperity as other motor cities across the globe such as Detroit, Nagoya, and Birmingham. Geelong became so synonymous with the company that it would colloquially become known as "Fordtown". Church is a Melbourne-based visual artist, employing photography, video and archival sources. She uses her upbringing in Geelong and rural Victoria as a source of inspiration for her photographic work, and is presently focused on documenting the ever-changing landscape of regional Australia. She also has an interest in the history of Australia and explores the impact of past events on the contemporary landscape. Fordtown questions the human cost of post-industrialisation through the exploration of the ramifications of the closure of Ford’s manufacturing facilities in her hometown. The project is the culmination of Church’s Master’s degree research at the Photography Studies College. Her work has been collected by various organisations including The Australian National Library and The Asia Pacific Photobook Archive, and also been exhibited throughout Melbourne, including in the Centre of Contemporary Photography and the Monash Gallery of Art. Fordtown will be running until tomorrow (Friday, August 20) with a special closing event from 6-8pm as it celebrates the motor manufacturing company through image, video and story. A Ford reunion was also held on Saturday in the gallery space for former employees at Ford’s North Geelong site and Broadmeadows factory.
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