Words – Adam Robertshaw

Photos – Julia Howland

I Want To Be A Fireman, Peter Tarasuik, Kent Street, 201 Smith Street, Collingwood

A dark and grungy little bar on Smith Street, (not Kent Street as the name would suggest) is not the first place you would expect to find an art exhibition, which is precisely one of the reasons I was compelled to go down and check out ‘I Want To Be A Fireman’ by local photographer Peter Tarasuik.

This is the second annual exhibition that Tarasuik and Tim McLean, the gentle giant who runs Kent Street have put on together. Visually, it’s not the most challenging or exciting photography exhibition I’ve seen, but as Peter explained to me when I bumped into him at the bar, that was not the point. “It’s not about being artistic, it’s more about doing something for the local community”.

The photos are lovingly taken portraits of the beautiful people of Smith Street, mainly the locals of Kent Street, or people who happened to pop in for a refreshment on the day that Peter was there with his camera. They were developed with support from The Edge Photo Imaging, a local lab just around the corner from Kent Street. The pictures themselves are on sale for $20 a pop, with all proceeds being donated to Live Wires, a local afterschool program for the children of the Collingwood Commission Flats, the focus being that all the money raised get put back into the community in the area surrounding the very place in which the photos were taken.

As you look through the hundred or so portraits adorning the walls you start to recognise faces that you’ve seen in Kent Street. A bartender here, a coffee drinking hipster there. Wait a minute, that’s the dude that just walked straight out of the toilet cubical without washing his hands!

I’m also pretty sure that even if it weren’t for the fact that all these people were part of the exhibition, they would still be in Kent Street enjoyin a beverage or two on this Friday night. The place has that friendly, communal vibe that the exhibition perfectly represents.