from the gatwick's perspective

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This work includes two feature articles, numerous images and a collection of notes and insights about the production of a series of short documentaries; all produced at the Gatwick Private Hotel in Melbourne's beach suburb of St. Kilda. Below, I present a sample of the aforementioned stories, which can be read (for free) by clicking on the 'Download' button on the left.

PART I: Live from the Gatwick (extract)

On February 1998 Victoria Carbone died. Queen Vicky, as she was commonly known around St Kilda, had been running the Gatwick Private Hotel for nearly thirty years.
 

An article titled Home is a ‘hotel with heart’, published in The Age on 10 October 1998, mentioned how the Queen Vicky’s heirs wanted to sell the Gatwick. It also showed the critical situation of the private rooming houses in St Kilda, which number had declined from 636, housing 9500 people in 1954 to 60, housing 1157 people in 1998.
 

Back then, Victoria’s daughters and twin sisters Yvette Kelly and Rose Banks decided to buy the hotel from their siblings. Ettie -as Yvette is commonly known- remembers how, when they decided to buy the Gatwick, it was very difficult, because they didn’t have any credit history, as they had never worked anywhere else: “we tried pretty much every bank, but every time we went asking to borrow 3.5 million dollars they very kindly showed us the door.”  After placing a mortgage on both Ettie and Rose’s houses and finding somebody willing to back them up, they finally managed to obtain a loan and became the new owners of what already was a rather infamous rooming house.

PART II: Six nights by the sea (extract)

I am lying on my bed. I’ve been waking and sleeping: on and off, for a while now. How long? I don’t know. Beyond the wall I am facing: the floor’s main bathroom. Behind me: room 309 of the Gatwick Private Hotel.
The walls across the hotel’s corridors are salmon-pink and the carpet is burgundy red. Inside the room, the walls are purple and the carpet is dark blue. Because of this, and the presence of a window, the environment is much cooler and brighter. Almost soothing.

 

It must be before eleven, for it’s still quiet. The only noise is that phlegmy coughing I’ve been hearing for the last three days. It might come from the room across the hall.
 

The silence is interrupted by the voice of a woman, coming from behind the wall. It’s a familiar voice. It’s getting louder. I can also hear a series of senseless, guttural sounds. Like those made by the bearded fellow who visited the office last night. The interaction keeps getting louder. She starts telling him to leave her alone. Then, she gets desperate and starts screaming for help. Then, silence…
 

I remain lying sideways, my nose is just a few inches from the purple plaster. The noises have evaporated. Time passes by. How long? One minute? Five? It’s hard to tell.All of a sudden, the hotel awakes. Conversations emerge from beyond the wall, as the water from the showers and toilets starts running. The usual noises: laughter, shouting and, in the background, the same sporadic, yet constant, coughing, which seems to be keeping the Gatwick’s own peculiar tempo.

PART III: Production notes: 'Sonnets from the Gatwick'

The Sonnets from the Gatwick are a series of short documentaries I made between July and December 2009, together with a street artist named Sandor 'Budapest' Somok, whom I met at the Gatwick.  

The Sonnets were conceived as an experiment in digital publishing and editorialising. Departing from the premise that there is no such thing as objective journalism, the aim was to present the story of the Gatwick through the eyes of those who live and work there.

The videos presented in this page include a selection of the stories documented during the production of the Sonnets from the Gatwick: