Archive for June 2009
Had the pleasure of having coffee with Marion Drew today thanks to Anne O’Hehir. It was brief – I stole away for half an hour from work to meet them – but great. Interesting to talk to Marion about her still life series particularly as I’ve been obsessing over this genre in the last few weeks. I’m chuffed to say that we exhibited together in the Josephine Ulrick Award up at the Gold Coast Art Gallery. Marion showed this work:
Rainbow Lorikeet on Queensland Needlework (courtesy Marion Drew)
She told us that the needlework had been made by her mother many years ago which I thought was a really lovely connection. Which then made me think more about some of my own intentions with the still-life genre, namely to use the trinkets and objects I’d inherited from my grandmother as a way to stay connected to her. My Gran, Judaline, was quite a formidable presence in our lives – we spent most of our summers in the one-horse town where she lived in Northern NSW. It was without fail, hot, dusty and often (to a precocious suburban kid) boring, but we always managed to occupy ourselves; exploring the farm (when she lived out of town) and imagining ourselves as wild cowgirls (I was Calamity Jane!) taming the wild beasts of the bush… and when she moved into town, spending all hours of the day (and sometimes night) at the local pool across the road. When trips to the local milkbar wore us down we always had her fabulously retro TV to watch all those fantastically wrong American 80s shows. Ah, it was the good life. My fondest memory though was always the kitchen and the dining table setting. Vintage tablecloths with a variety of crockery (the blue Willow china only coming out for Sunday lunch) and a mish-mash of bone-handled cutlery as well as the ubiquitous salt and pepper shakers cast in a variety of animal shapes! The picture of that table is still clear in my mind and I know for my own still-life work, that I want to recreate the memory of that, to somehow hold on to that distinctly Australian vernacular aesthetic. Distracted by other things in life, I wasn’t really photographing at the time my Gran died, a regret I still feel deeply. She was always very houseproud and her home was very much a reflection of her consummate collection of things. I suppose I would have liked to have some kind of tangible memory of that domestic space in which I spent a large part of my childhood, photographs then as momento mori. Instead I find myself recreating that nostalgia though images like this one, using inherited and thus precious objects:
…still-life from a work-in-progress
Teah, Toyah, Sarina, Remy and Kristen (Belco Pride series)
Go Mark, your energy is fantastic! Curators, galleries and other industry people, take note… People like Mark and projects like Hijacked represent the future of Australian photography! Collaborative, online and coming to a gallery near you.
Johan Simen, Evidence of Things Unseen
Trent Parke, The Christmas Tree Bucket
Simen Johan, Untitled #70
from the series And Nothing was to be Trusted, 1998
Todd Hido, Landscapes
Tamara Dean, Ritualism
Lea Golda Holterman, Orthodox Eros
Kai-Uwe Schulte-Bunert, Vaterland
After recently photographing the now empty Belconnen Remand Centre as part of my Belco Pride series, I came across a rather interesting blog called Prison Photography: the practice of photography in sites of incarceration when doing some further research into the culture of incarceration. I’ve been wanting to photograph in Belco Remand for a while now but never had any luck. Now that they’ve shut down and moved their tenants to the new Alexander Maconochie Centre, I was able to get a pretty good tour of the place thanks to an open day… billed, believe it or not, as a family event. And the families were out in force – kinda weird and I dare say a bit of a joke for the parents showing their kids where home could be if they were naughty (my kids intuitively refused to come!). Seemed a strange PR excercise – if indeed that’s what it was – as it really reinforced how appalling conditions can be in such a place. Perhaps the popularity of the occasion simply boiled down to a case of schadenfreude, wanting to see how law-breakers can live alongside our shopping malls, schools and suburban homes. In any case, I was suitably dismayed and (I admit) aesthetically delighted with the original interiors and fittings.
Somewhat disturbingly, visitors were greeted with the following German quote “Arbeit Macht Frei” (which is a slogan known for being placed at the entrances of a number of Nazi concentration camps during WWII. It translates roughly as “Work makes one free”). “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” was also scrawled in English below it. Overall quite a surreal, confronting and sad experience.
Anyway, here are just a few pics from the sojourn:
Belco Remand Centre, 2009 (Belco Pride Series)
Of course there is a long tradition of photographers telling stories about prisons and exploring the culture and brutality of incarceration. How they gain access is a mystery to me. Here are some images from just a few photographers who have made some jaw-dropping images in prisons. For more insightful ruminations on prison photography go check out Prison Photography:
James Nachtwey, Prisoner on the chain gang, Alabama 1994 (Crime and Punishment series)
Mikhael Subotsky (Beaufort West series)
Yana Payusova Eye of Faith, 2005 (Russian Prison series)
Well, it’s been a little while since my last proper post. Life is pretty hectic and with the freeze about to set in, seems to be getting harder. Or at least I’m slower, can’t bear the cold. Plus add to that, end of semester at uni, end of contracts at work, looming thesis deadlines and the global panic about swine flu, and it ain’t all that pretty to contemplate either! However having complained thus far, I do have some good news too. This year I’d decided, was going to be my year where I’d persistently enter all the worthwhile competitions for photography. And so far, so good. Have managed to be a finalist in a few comps (Head On and Josephine Ulrick), managed to exhibit in a group show at the ACP (no mean feat) and have just come back from a cyclonic week in Melbourne and Sydney for the Sony/ACMP Projections, another competition in which I managed to edge in as a finalist. A step up however, has seen me not only win my section (which was the art category – there was also commercial and editorial categories) but also the whole competition!
Pretty groovy really. The only thing I’ve ever won…. well, except for a ridiculous Dolly competition I entered when I was 13. A pull-out poster of a pretty girl with no makeup, our job was to give her a makeover. I figured being the precocious teenager that I was, that she was perfectly lovely without the makeup and wrote a long manifesto along these lines…. my prize you ask??? $150 worth of cheap and crappy makeup you wouldn’t see your daughter dead in! Ironic wouldn’t you say! Suffice to say that 20 odd years later, I’m pretty pleased with my prize of a new Sony a900 DSLR and lens (much more appropriate!), a few vouchers for book-making, studio hire in Sydney, ACMP membership and a few other odds and sods. Not bad methinks since it was only $10 to enter! Plus it was a foray for my Belco Pride series. Good to test the waters and obviously it must have hit a nerve as most people seemed to like it. So all in all, a busy but quite productive few weeks. I think the trick from this point on, is to keep producing (not difficult) but also to keep up the contacts – old and new – as well as to keep entering all those competitions. If you have any doubts about this process (which I admit I did once upon a time), all I can say is DON’T. It can really pay off.
I also wanted to share some images from a German photographer called Anna Skladmann whose series Little Adults (about young Russian aristocrats) are both disturbing and beguiling (thanks Vikky for the link):
all images from the series Little Adults (courtesy Anna Skladmann)