SCENES FROM THE MALL: Exploring the balance between recording history and storytelling in everyday life

Spiros Coutroubas, Belconnen Mall Parking Area Stairwell (1990)

SCENES FROM THE MALL: Exploring the balance between recording history and storytelling in everyday life.

All portraits are made to be seen in the future. Pictures such as those in this collection may be most obviously seen as a historical snapshot of people and places but, given the commonplace nature of the subjects, some of this interpretation depends on the viewer’s familiarity with the people, place and time that are depicted. The less the viewer knows about these details, the more the images stand on their own and, in some measure, the more the pictures become a story prompt for the viewer. These stories may focus on the human or emotional elements or on incidental artefacts in the photographs. People may also see a historical perspective or even nostalgia. The stories might also integrate the relationship between the subject and the photographer, noting that both parties have an influence on the process. There could be a 3 or 4 dimensional diagram to map out the possibilities but I don’t have one. We’ll use the pictures from the recent SCENES FROM THE MALL exhibition as a basis for discussion, at least primarily, keeping in mind that members of the audience will bring their own understanding of Belconnen, of the mall, of Canberra locals and of 1989-90.

Spiros Coutroubas

Spiros has been practising photography since the 1980s both in Australia and abroad. His work focusses 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. His images are intended to document the present for the future. Spiros is a graduate of the School of Art and Design in Canberra. His recent exhibitions include WORKING PEEL STREET: Images and Sound from the 1992 Tamworth Country Music Festival (Tamworth, 2022) and SCENES FROM THE MALL: Portraits of people and places in the Belconnen Mall 1989-90 (Canberra, 2023).
Learn more about Spiros' work on his website ( or Instagram (@spiros.coutroubas).

Image gallery

Date & time

Tue 12 Mar 2024, 10.15–11.15am


Level 1, Baldessin Precinct Building


Spiros Coutroubas, Documentary Photographer



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