People gathering around the local or corner shop prolonging their stay to engage, gossip and exchange information was a familiar scene throughout Australia during the inter-war period. The Fosters store in Berowra epitomised one of those places. It was a store that stocked almost everything that a household required in those days from bread, butter, cheese and meat to hardware, petrol and farming equipment and much loved by the local children the lolly jars that flanked the shelves. An easy stroll to the Fosters store was part of the daily routine for most living in Berowra. If you were unable to make the store Bill Foster would deliver your goods to your doorstep each day by horse and carriage. All you needed to do was ring your order through the day before and Bill would have the order ready the next day.
Being situated right near the railway station the Fosters store would hang a tea towel on the back of the shop to warn train travellers about ticket inspectors being at the station. The store was also the location of the Berowra telephone exchange, bank and postal services in addition to the Post Office located along Berowra Waters Rd.
David Lever has vividly captured the experience of living in a small rural community like Berowra during the 1930s – transporting us, the viewers, into a time and place where everything seems to stand still. The women are depicted in various roles from mothers with their small children to women gossiping, an easy slow pace far removed from what we experience today in the very hectic and at most times stressful car park at Coles Berowra.
Bill Wall’s bus is depicted in its glorious state being one of the main transport vehicles during this era. Wall was able to adapt the back of the truck so the vehicle could carry passengers from Berowra Station to Berowra Waters which became a much needed service as tourism increased within this area throughout the 1930s.
But what intrigues me the most about this image is the character placed strategically in the foreground of the picture. His city style hat looks very sophisticated paper slipped under his arm with cigarette hanging from the mouth in a very cool and unassuming way. This character seems somewhat familiar – as if cast from a film set and transported into the sleepy town of Berowra. Is he observing the others in this tableau or are the others watching him with hesitation and suspicion. This extraordinary history painting affords us ways of looking at life in different ways and how it plays out on a daily basis which transcends time and place.
David Lever has provided us a unique insight into Fosters store which was once the heart of Berowra.
If you would like to see more works by David Lever, please visit his website