Scenes from the Mall

Belconnen Mall (1990) (detail) by Spiros Coutroubas

Scenes from the Mall

Photographic portraits in the Belconnen Mall (1989-90)

Spiros Coutroubas

West Gallery, Belconnen Arts Centre

Opening: 6pm Friday 1 December 2023

1 December 2023 – 11 February 2024 

The portraits in this exhibition were all shot in the Belconnen Mall in 1989 and 1990. The exhibition comprises three distinct sets of work, each documenting people in different spaces in the mall. They show the more routine and functional aspects of daily life in these structured and artificial spaces.

A lot of visitors to this exhibition will know the mall well and they may have been dropping in there for years. Although the mall has been expanded and renovated several times since the pictures were created, the place seems strangely similar, as though the passing of time hasn’t delivered a corresponding change in substance. As much as the images are about the people, collectively they are also a portrait of the mall when it was younger. For better or worse, the mall is central not only to Belconnen’s commercial and economic life but also to its history and urban development. It opened in 1978 giving locals the convenience of having so much under one roof. Despite criticism that malls of this type are vast generic commercial spaces that lack character, these pictures show that the mall served as something of a town square and a local gathering place for the community. It seems that the pros sit alongside the cons.

About Spiros Coutroubas

Spiros is a graduate of the School of Art in Canberra. He has been practicing photography since the 1980s both in Australia and abroad. His work focuses on portraiture and social documentary photography. He has concentrated on documenting people in their everyday environments but also in places such as festivals and shows, sporting events, shopping malls and occasions like ANZAC day commemorations and the Queen’s birthday. His images are intended to document the present for the future. Some of his portraits are in the Parliamentary Library collection and are occasionally on display in the members’ area of Parliament House.


Instagram: @spiros.coutroubas