six o'clock swill
six o'clock swill - photograph of dead foxes hanging from a fence (diptych,) hand printed c-type. Found family photographs of people drinking, circa 1960’s. Exhibited above Union Hotel in Fitzroy, 2017. Curation and exhibition text by Lucy Foster and Bill Hawkins. Artists: Bronte Berenger, Paulina Hupe, Majed Fayad, Roberta Joy Rich, Kenneth Suico, Pol McMahon, William Hawkins, Annabelle Hayes and Lucy Foster.
The ‘six o’clock swill’ was an Australian/New Zealand slang term for the last-minute rush to buy drinks at the pub before its mandatory closing time of 6pm. Introduced as a temporary measure during the First World War, the curfew remained in place until 1967. In that time, a culture of heavy drinking developed within Australian communities. People working from nine till five made a habit of consuming as much alcohol as possible within the given hour before returning home to their domestic compromise.
Australian drinking culture is known for its fun loving and carefree nature, alongside its excess and violence. The effect of alcohol impinges natural inhibition, allowing for what might usually be glanced over, to become exposed. Seldom viewed as a harmful drug, drinking is seen as an imperative activity that unites communities as opposed to its ill- favoured realities. It is unsurprising that our drinking culture has a history of violence, racism, segregation and sexism as these are topics which are often casually brushed off as being a natural part of Australian frivolity.
A xerox of a 1950’s domestic interior, the space situates itself above The Union pub; a public place loaded with romance, indulgence, laughter, escapism, lewdness and masculinity. The red congealed carpet offers a festering aftermath of the bloody six o’clock swill. A restriction that was once introduced to improve the domestic life of blue collar Australian’s resulted in an endemic culture of cyclical binge drinking.
Order of imagery:
1. Photo Documentation of 'foxes' installed in bathroom at 'six p'clock swill,' Union Hotel in Fitzroy, 2017.
2. Photo Documentation of 'found photographs installed in hallway at 'six o'clock swill,' Union Hotel in Fitzroy, 2017.
© Lucy Foster. Living and working between Naarm (Melbourne) and Dja Dja Wurrung Country (Castlemaine) on unceded land belonging to the Wurundjeri and Jaara Jaara people of the Kulin Nation.