While Lucy Parakhina has only just moved to Hobart, Tasmania, the landscape and the lifestyle of the island city is already making an impression on her life and photographic practice. Today, in the second installment of the Life In series, the 27-year-old photographer and Honours student takes us on a tour of her new hometown and reflects on how it compares to the 18 years she spent living in Sydney.
I’ve only been in Hobart for three months.
I was born in Tomsk, in central Siberia, Russia and lived there until I migrated to Sydney with my family in 1997, when I was 10. I lived in Sydney until this February.
I am doing an Honours in Fine Arts at University of Tasmania (UTAS) in Hobart, in the Photomedia studio.
For the previous five or so years I was mostly working as a freelance photographer/videographer in Sydney, documenting art exhibitions, performance and theatre for a range of largely arts organisations. While I’m here in Hobart, I’m also working as online producer for RealTime magazine and occasionally go back to Sydney for photo/video work.
Moving to Hobart has changed the nature of my photography a lot, which is what I was looking for.
In Sydney, I was shooting a lot for work and didn’t really feel the urge to take photos in my free time. Here, with wanting to focus on my Honours, I haven’t sought out any freelance work, so I’m shooting for my project or just documenting daily life.
With smartphone cameras as good as they are, it’s really easy to take photos quickly and discreetly. I love Instagram because I am often out exploring somewhere on my own and it allows me to share things I think are interesting or beautiful with people.
With Honours, I’ve thought more deeply about how and why I take photos in three months than I ever did in all my years of taking photos. It’s been great. I’m working on a project that involves me moving away from the purely representational photography I’ve been doing and thinking about how images are constructed and what it means to do that.
From my impressions so far, Hobart feels like a really big country town.
Country town in that everything shuts early, there’s pretty much no traffic, rent is cheap - coming from Sydney - and everything is pretty close together. Yet it’s also big enough to have some great cafes and restaurants, all the shops you might want or need, a really nice indie cinema, a few galleries, and of course, MONA and all its associated festivals and events.
The population seems more diverse than I would expect in other towns of Hobart’s size, there are a lot of international students that come to UTAS and that adds to the cultural mix. I’ve met locals but also a lot of people who moved here from the mainland at some point.
I've also noticed how amazing all the food is - you can go into the most standard looking pub, and there will be an incredible menu consisting of fresh, local ingredients and the service will be great.
When I first came to Tasmania, I found the whole idea of the rest of Australia being known as 'the mainland’ strange.
The psychological experience of being physically separated from the mainland is primarily that of thinking about yourself in relation to somewhere else. That was a new sensation for me because on the mainland, you never think of yourself in relation to the island of Tasmania. It’s more about Australia being separated from the rest of the world.
On a really practical level, I’ve found that the separation means that internet is slow and there is a limited choice of internet providers (unless you’re in an area that is part of the NBN, which I am not) and that things that have to be shipped here, like petrol, are more expensive.
The landscape is one of the most remarkable things about Hobart and part of the reason I moved here.
The city is dominated by the presence of the mountain, Kunanyi/Mount Wellington, which is really breathtaking. This probably passes with time but I still pause every time I glimpse it between buildings, around a corner or out of my kitchen window!
I live in the suburb of New Town, which is just past North Hobart.
I visited Hobart several times over the last few years and the North Hobart area seemed like the place most similar to the area of Sydney I lived in. New Town is close enough to the centre of town to still be really convenient but far enough out to have lots of space, wide streets and cheap rent. There is a strip of a shops, good restaurants, galleries, bookshops and a cinema.
I also just fell in love with the flat that I live in when I went to inspect it on my second day in Hobart.
I live in a one bedroom flat on a nice, quiet street not too far from the main strip in North Hobart. It’s in an older building with a bit of character and it has massive windows, including a bay window in the bedroom. The building is on a bit of a hill and I’m on the first floor so I have really lovely views.
I live by myself and that was another reason I decided to move to Hobart.
I’ve lived in lots of different share houses in Sydney over the last 10 years and just wanted to have my own space but in Sydney I couldn’t even afford a studio, much less a one bedroom flat. I don’t have a pet but there’s a weird cat that comes and says hi every time I hang out the washing.
Nearby, there is a great supermarket called Hill St Grocer, which stocks lots of local produce, there is also Jackman & McRoss, an amazing café and bakery and Jean Pascal Patisserie, run by a fifth-generation French national pastry chef.
One of my first experiences in Hobart was buying some bookshelves on Gumtree and realising that the person I bought them from lived in the flat on the other side of the wall.
This turned out pretty well, as she was moving to Melbourne and getting rid of everything so we just moved all her furniture and plants across the hall from one flat into the other. This experience gave me a taste of how small Hobart can sometimes feel.
I mostly drive because it's so easy and quick, I am mostly running late and because it’s just so damn cold.
It takes me five minutes to drive to uni, which is on the waterfront, where I can then park right outside the doors for the whole day for five dollars. There are buses in Hobart but they’re pretty irregular unless you’re on a main route, and even those stop running quite early.
Monday to Friday I generally go to uni, as there are seminars, supervisor meetings and public lectures by visiting artists. I’ve got a studio/office on campus so I work there but I also do work on the weekends, or go away on a weekday.
These are kind of boring details but the contrast to Sydney blows my mind. As a freelance photographer, I would often spend hours stuck in traffic, trying to get out to some part of Sydney.
For the last few weeks, there’s been a great weekly community dinner at an artist-run space called The Arts Factory.
Every Wednesday, a different group of artists cook a huge delicious meal, which you get for a gold coin donation, there’s usually some live music, cheap drinks and most people from the art school head there.
When I first got here, I started following most of the arts organisations and galleries on social media to keep up to date with what was going on. But most of the things I’ve gone to have been recommended by someone, or I’ve stumbled upon like walking past a pub and seeing that Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks were playing there in a week or coming across an Italian street fair with a spaghetti-eating competition.
Driving out of town in Tasmania is different to what I’m used to.
I’ve driven a lot around New South Wales and Victoria and as far west as Bourke and Broken Hill. I’m used to driving for 10 hours through an environment that doesn’t change much.
Tasmania is a lot smaller geographically but extremely diverse. So a couple of hours from Hobart in one direction you can be up on a pre-historic alpine plateau, near Cradle Mountain and a couple of hours in a different direction you’re in lush forest, surrounded by picturesque cliffs in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.
One of my other favourite places to drive to is Queenstown, on the west coast, which is a former mining town surrounded by cliffs that have been completely stripped of vegetation. It’s not everyone’s idea of beauty, but just an incredibly striking landscape.
I haven’t had many visitors yet but I would take anyone to MONA, followed by fish and chips on the waterfront, then to the Lark Distillery to buy a small bottle of whiskey to take up to the top of Mount Wellington to sip from while watching the sunset.
I’ve found the people in Hobart to be really friendly and helpful. It’s also REALLY COLD here.
I’m adjusting to that and actually don’t mind the cold and seeing snow on the mountain is pretty great. Plus, every time I boil water to cook pasta, I get an actual cloud forming in my kitchen.
When I first got here, I was filming a piece on the Electrona festival for the arts magazine that I work for, so I immediately met some people. I also started uni a week after moving and met people through the course, including a woman who has just moved from Melbourne. We bonded over our attempts to get our bearings and she generously let me stay with her for a few days after one conversation, when an Airbnb place I was staying in had a break-in. Having the structure and immediate community of the course has definitely helped me feel not isolated, and I feel like I’ve settled in pretty quickly.
Thank you Lucy! You can see more of her photos online, follow her on Instagram to see her everyday phone snaps, you'll find her personal portfolio here and the images she's shot for clients on her website.
All photos by Lucy Parakhina.
All photos by Lucy Parakhina.