Lisa Hogben / Cross Dogs

Posted December 20, 2011

Lisa Hogben currently works out of Sydney, Australia.

Always a place where you could get a good coffee, in what was once the cultural abyss of Australian life, Kings Cross was my backyard as a very young child. This image is from a series called Cross Dogs and has been born of a commission to shoot some reportage of Sydney’s once infamous red light district. I have a particular love of the area as it’s where my family lived for 15 years, and I had my first tentative beginnings. Strangely my reconnection to this area has begun as the Cross seems to have lost it’s ‘mojo’, and is in desperate need of re-invigoration.

When I grew up in the area, it was the bohemian capital of Australia, with famous artists and eccentrics sharing the footpath with villains and police; the drug addled and the elite of Sydney society. It was an area that due to it’s proximity to the naval base, HMAS Kuttabul, and the hoards of American GIs on R&R who would visit Sydney during the Vietnam War, became synonymous with drugs and prostitution. And one of Australia’s favorite traditions, the ‘Drag’ show, had it’s spiritual base at the wonderfully lewd and glitter strewn ‘Les Girls’.

The sorry state of Kings Cross today reminds me of a line by John Donne. “Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies.” It seems to me that the interesting, intriguing and unique atmosphere has been defaced by the iconoclastic tendencies of the various stakeholders in the area, and it has lost its lustre to the new masters who have only understood the Cross on a very superficial level.

Alas, as I have started shooting this body of work, it appears that all that is left of the golden era of Kings Cross are those oh so loyal creatures, the dogs. I hope that as I work through the process of shooting this story, that the powers that be will pay attention and perhaps further commission not only myself but other artists to ‘occupy’ some of the empty spaces, and once again create a district where anything that goes can be fueled by creative spirits once more.

You can see Lisa’s blog and the rest of the series here.