Louise Hawson of 52 Suburbs

Louise Hawson of 52 Suburbs

Cerentha Harris
Nov 10, 2011

Name: Louise Hawson of 52 Suburbs
Location: Sydney, Australia
Size: 108 square feet

When photographer Louise Hawson realized she didn't know her own city all that well she did something about it. She set herself the task of visiting 52 of Sydney's suburbs - one a week for a year. She was looking for beauty in the everyday and with her keen eye she found it. The blog where she ran the photos caught the attention of the Museum of Sydney. Not only did they put on a show of the photographs, and New South Press published a book entitled...yep, you guessed it, 52 Suburbs. Hawson now has her sights set on the rest of the globe with a new project shooting suburbs of well-known cities all over the world.

Tell us a bit about 52 Suburbs, the blog. 52 Suburbs is the name of a photographic project I did in 2009-10, where I explored 52 Sydney suburbs over the course of a year. It came about when I was looking around for a challenging photographic project to do. When I realised I was a stranger in my own city I decided to explore a new suburb each week, photograph it and share what I discovered on a blog, 52suburbs.com The focus was to find the 'beauty in the burbs' and avoid the usual postcard clichés. The blog was so popular that it was published as a book and an exhibition at the Museum of Sydney. I'm now working on 52Suburbs Around the World where I will visit 4-6 famous cities for between 2-3 months each, bypassing the postcard clichés to explore and photograph their 'unfamous' side - their suburbs.

How would you describe your office? Small but comforting. I love the old wooden table I work on (an ex-school science lab bench) and the fact I can see trees and blue sky in the corner of my eye, even when I'm chained to the computer all day long editing images. One end of the room is me (calm), the other, my eight year old daughter (chaos). I try not to look at her end as it's way too cluttered for my liking.

Approximate size? Small. Okay, the room measures 3.8m x 2.8m.

In terms of layout and organization of your work space, what are specific details that you're particularly proud of?The fact that because my desk is an old science lab bench, it is long enough to accommodate both the essential (computer) and the aesthetically appealing (eg Balinese hold-all, carved Chinese pen holder) without hogging too much space in the room. Also, because the desk is much higher than normal, my lap can accommodate not one but two Burmese cats at the same time, a welcome addition on a cold winter's day.

What's on your desk/computer desktop at this moment? On desk: My book, 52 Suburbs. Camera. Balinese hold-all thingy. Chinese carved pen holder and matching thingy holder. Japanese wooden tape dispenser. External hard drives x 4 (can one ever have enough?). iPhone. Computer. Diary. Various bits of paper that hold endless lists about my upcoming project. And one cat (eschewing the lap today). On desktop: Thumbnails of various images and too many folders.

Any tips or advice about office décor, layout or organization? Sadly I cannot give any advice about hiding things like cables or wires as they are out and proud in my office. I have a printer that is really a folly - it needs so much ink to print anything that I can't bring myself to use it anymore. So it sits, redundant and ugly in the corner.


  • Desk from an old friend's parents, who got it from an old school science lab.
  • Old Chinese bench, from a shop called Flash Trash, now sadly gone.
  • Child's wooden chair, Mitchell Road Antiques
  • IKEA drawers for storing flat stuff.
  • Ugly wire thing holding all my daughter's clutter from Howard's Storage.

  • Tech tools include my iMac (love), several external hard drives (love), phone (indifferent to) and the bits and pieces that let my Canon 5D MK II talk to my iMac (love).

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