The pain, grief, and human tragedy of the long-running ‘Mr Fluffy’ saga that affected thousands of Canberra families has been recorded in a new photographic book - More Than Bricks and Mortar, the many faces of Canberra’s Mr Fluffy homes - which was launched at the National Press Club on 21 February 2017.
The book chronicles the lost homes, memories, architectural heritage, raw emotion, and personal journeys of the ‘Mr Fluffy’ tragedy. Professional photographer Jennifer Nagy embarked on the project in 2015, originally with the aim of creating a book of photos and stories of around 100 homes.
“As I spoke to the homeowners, I began to understand the deep sense of loss and anguish they experienced, and I became committed to photographing as many homes as I could in order to make the book a reality for these people,” said Nagy.
The book was launched by a former Mr Fluffy homeowner and our CEO, Chris Redmond. He is also a member of the ACT Asbestos Response Taskforce Community Expert Reference Group.
“I think houses become homes when we build our lives in them through planned and spontaneous activities, family gatherings and milestones and store those memories of lives lived, more importantly of lives lived together. The home is the shell that holds our lives. We shape the shell to reflect the lives we wish to live, the physical and emotional environment that sustain us in the world outside our home,” said Redmond.
The epitaphs that accompany some of the photos are a testimony to the impact the Mr Fluffy crisis has had on so many Canberra families.
Some of the responses include:
“…our house was monstered and reduced to a hole. Carmel, my wife, is not worried but I feel robbed. Real estate agents say that we were ripped off for between $50K and $100K and we have no chance of getting a brass penny back. Even writing this hurts.” - Brian.
“We have been retired for the past four years and are unable to get a mortgage. What do we do now? Where do we go? What compensation will we get? The thoughts of our future were always in our minds, you can’t explain to people the anguish and feelings of frustration that you have when everything you have worked for seems like it is going to be taken away and you don’t know how you are going to be able to move forward. Thankfully for us we discovered the land rent scheme and are building a new house in a new suburb. We will never own the block but we will have died before we have paid the equivalent in rent to what we would have paid for the block, so for us it is a win- win situation.” - Barbara and Terry Bennett.
The book contains photos of 750 of the 1122 affected Mr Fluffy homes, and 39 stories written by homeowners and is available for purchase online HERE.