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Portrait Project by Jacqueline Mitelman

Photographer Jacqueline Mitelman, assisted by Susan Dirgham, set up a mobile studio in Smith St in early 2013 and captured the lives of passers by for the Smith Street Portrait Project. Ten of those portraits lined the hoardings of one of the newest development sites in Smith St as part of a public art commission in collaboration with art consultant Andy Dinan and [MARS].

The Smith Street Portrait Project

Smith Street, Collingwood. A sea of faces of every creed and colour, a cosmopolitan melting-pot of food, fashion, bars and bazaars. Hidden away behind the grand facades are innumerable artists’ studios. Not so hidden away however is the work of one of those denizens, Jacqueline Mitelman. Competing with rock posters and advertising, Mitelman’s Smith Street Portrait Project, an elegant series of portraits of passers-by, cannot help but remind viewers of the rainbow polyglot of humanity that this region represents. “Having lived and worked in smith for now nine years I am very aware of what a visual feast the street is for a portrait photographer,” Mitelman says. “Every time I go into the street, I see many people who are excellent subjects, within the space of a block!” Smith Street has “such a wonderfully diverse population,” she says. “The rich and the poor, the young and old of many cultures, creative fashion from vibrant youth and the strikingly colourful dress of newly arrived immigrants. Smith Street’s face is still, for a limited period of time, a eclectic and universal one, says Mitelman. The wave of perhaps inevitable gentrification has yet to sweep over this beautiful varied street of many languages and ways of being!” To provide herself with an opportunity to document this passing parade, she has established a simple studio in Smith Street and using natural light, taken photographs of those passing by who are willing to participate “The resulting portraits have the dimension of having been taken on specific days and hours, a time slice ie between 10 am and 1 pm, on the 25th January 2012 these people were in Smith Street. The randomness of selection of subjects, and the unpredictability of the results, is challenging and exciting.” “I love living here because of the vibrancy, liveliness, the great diversity of peoples and cultures and because everything I could possibly need exists in such variety and proximity.” The City of Yarra is famous for its dynamic artistic and cultural life. It is home to many artists, and arts organisations, Mitelman notes. “It has more galleries than any other municipality, from leading contemporary galleries, to artist run spaces, and exhibitions in cafes and bookshops. For an artist it is a wonderful place to live, both stimulating and highly convenient!” Smith Street Portrait Project by Jacqueline Mitelman, assisted by Susan Dirgham