Thanks Pandemic

Just over the halfway mark with my solo exhibition, ‘Thanks Pandemic’,

With a busy month ahead of me I’m popping my opening night speech here on my blog along with 22 of the 23 images I exhibited in my current solo exhibition.

Here are the details again:-
Hunt Club Community Arts Centre, 775 Ballarat Road, Deer Park, VIC 3023
Opening hours are 9:30 am to 4:30pm


I begin today by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

I would like to thank Brimbank Council for their support, especially all the Staff at the Hunt club community arts centre, including Paulina, Michael, and everyone else who supported and contributed to this exhibition.

The pandemic that swept the world in 2020, is still impacting on many people in many ways, two years later. Prior to the pandemic, I would walk or drive with my cameras to locations I visit often, or see as interesting in passing. Being locked indoors during the Pandemic put an end to all that.

Many people experienced life through a different lens, during the lockdowns. Some feeling challenged others liberated. I too suffered my ups and downs while juggling ‘working from home’ while actually living at home.

One of the positives of all this for me was that I was free to find other ways to flex my creative muscle. I did this by visiting my analogue archive. This archive spans more than 30 years of walking and exploring my home town of Melbourne with a variety of cameras. The last 20 or so years here in the West and Sunshine. I managed to distill this to a handful of images that I hope to offer some insights into how I have watched this city grow and change.  To simplify he process I chose one camera type to make the initial selections. This added to the cohesion of an otherwise disparate set of images, I hope.

Some images more than others stick in your ‘craw’ as you work, this is one of the reasons why I printed these particular photos. In some instances it was the moment itself, in others it was the light, the tonality or some other photographic quality captured by the lens and camera.

These prints are from a loose thread that runs throughout my creative career. The urban landscape and humanity’s attempts at taming it, or at least co-exist with it. Nature has a way of persevering despite our best efforts, wildness lingers and some of these pictures attempt to explore that. Whether we have the desire to allow nature to recalibrate is something we can all hope for.

I don’t remember who said it but it has been suggested that every picture you make with a camera is a self portrait, if this is true then I’m not sure what these pictures say about me. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that point.

Another driving factor in the choice of the final images is, technological. Materials have changed a lot since I bought my first packet of Agfa paper from a US retailer around 1990. These changes have contributed to me revisiting my archive with this in mind and explore other ways making work that I may have felt was not technically feasible all those years ago.

I’d just like to finish with one more thank you.

Lastly my wife for her patience and input and being a steady rock when I needed it the most.

westgate bridge in 1994 or so

All are toned silver gelatin prints 190mm x 190mm.

Here are the details again:-
Hunt Club Community Arts Centre, 775 Ballarat Road, Deer Park, VIC 3023
Opening hours are 9:30 am to 4:30pm

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How I prepare for a physical exhibition?

Prints drying in my darkroom
Silver Geltatin Prints drying in my darkroom

I have been busy the last few days getting my prints ready for my next upcoming exhibition.
The Exhibition entitled ‘Thanks Pandemic’ consists of 24 silver gelatin prints framed and matted.
All up the print finishing took about 12 hours. I don’t recollect how long the actual printing took, as it was done some time ago during several of the lockdowns that Victoria endured from 2020 to 2022.
These lockdowns were the catalyst for me to revisit my archive and print some images that I have always wanted to print. Now with time on my side and changes to materials I was able to produce a series of prints that reflect my skills and knowledge. Basically I like to make work with long tonal scales. This is made possible by using 2 filters under the enlarger, the 00 filter and the 5 filter, from Ilford’s filter pack. Using this technique enables finer control over shadows, midtones and highlights.
After the prints are made they undergo treatment for archival permanence using a 2 bath fixer system and using some dilute selenium toner. In this case it was 1:19 for 3 minutes in the selenium.

My toning setup
My toning setup, I’m using selenium toner 1:19 for 3 minutes

Then into my archival wash tub for one hour. My tub holds 10 prints so I had to undertake this process in 3 batches, 2 at 10 and one at 5 prints. They are then hung to dry in my darkroom.

My archival print washing setup
My archival print washing setup, washed 10 silver gelatin prints at a time

Next I flatten the prints in a warm heat press.
Once they are all flat, I begin the final stages of preparation for matting.

Flattened prints ready for over matting
Flattened prints ready for over matting

This involves making paper corners, 100 in total, then attaching the prints to a backing board that is hinged to the matt. All made using paper archival tape.

Archival paper corners
Archival paper corners, I made 100 of these.

Once the components are assembled the frame is reassembled and the protective corners replaced. Then they are stored ready for transport to the gallery.

A print matted and secured to the backing board, ready for the final touches to make it exhibition ready.
A print matted and secured to the backing board, ready for the final touches to make it exhibition ready.

This body of work is going to use a mixture of frame colours 9 silver 9 off-white and 6 black. How they are how together will be determined once the work is in the space.

All the prints ready for transport to the gallery next week.
All the prints ready for transport to the gallery next week.

Upcoming Solo Show

Washing fibre based paper prints in my home made print washer
Washing fibre based paper prints in my home made print washer

I’m having a solo exhibition soon.

Here are the details.

The show is entitled ‘Thanks Pandemic’. The exhibition  consists of 25 silver gelatine prints printed in my darkroom.  It is on display at the Hunt Club Community Arts Centre, 775 Ballarat Road, Deer Park, VIC 3023, from the 7th of October until the 8th of December. An opening celebration will occur on Friday the 7th of October from 6:30 to 8:00pm.

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From Doom-scrolling to Darkroom

St.Albans paddock with pylons and burnt grass
Circa 1989, St.Albans 19 x 19 cm silver gelatin print. Printed 2021

Today was the beginning of the term break for me as I only work 3 days a week now. I managed to procrastinate online all morning. I fitted in some quality time in my darkroom after lunch though. I have a solo exhibition application in the works. So if I’m accepted into the space I want to have plenty of time to make the best quality prints I can. The negatives span more than 30 years of shooting film and are mostly images that I have liked for and of themselves. But may not have fitted in with other series and bodies of work I exhibited in the past.

It’s a bit weird working with such old negatives. I started in my first year of University with a Mamiya medium format TLR camera. I used Microdol-X as my developer in those days. I now use a Hasselblad as my main medium format camera. Recently switched to Xtol too, a commercial developer also by Kodak. Prior to switching I had used a home made developer called D25. I’m still using the same film though, Kodak T-max 400.

Papers too, have changed radically since 1989 when I was at University. Now most papers are multi-contrast as opposed to graded. This is actually a good thing as I feel I can eke more out of a negative using the 2 extreme filters, 00 and 5. A technique called ‘split filter printing’.

I hope then to better match my expectations of an image using the split filter printing system, and a variety of home made paper developers. Compared to my University days, when a neg may have been put aside due to it not being able to printed well on a single grade of paper.
The differences between cameras and eras seems noticeable. The developer not so much. I switched film developers mainly for environmental reasons but technique also played a part in that decision too. I touched base with an old teacher a couple of summers back and he suggested the change.

The weird part is as I’m not really working to a fixed time frame, I have all the time in the world to muck around as I make each print. Some are just “falling” out of the enlarger, others are requiring many test strips and prints. I plan on exhibiting about 14 to 18 prints. Pinned directly to the walls of the gallery.

I applied to exhibit in October 2022.

Fingers crossed.

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2022 Solo Show Application

I have applied to the Sunshine Community Arts Space for another solo show in 2022.

Here are some images that formed part of the application and potentially part of the exhibition.

The images form part of a larger archive and at one level are simply images I’ve always connected to, but not actually printed to exhibit in the past.

Like the last solo show in 2019, these prints will be small about 18 cms square. However this time I am not framing, just pinning, to the wall.

2 Friends on a location photography excursion in about 1990
Glen & Les near the You Yangs about 1990
Swamp under the Westgate Bridge about 1989
Swamp under the Westgate Bridge about 1989
Outside the National Gallery in Canberra, in about 1993
Outside the National Gallery in Canberra, in about 1993
A view from Melbourne looking east atop a skyscraper around 1990
A view from Melbourne looking east atop a skyscraper around 1990

The work comes from a place that I have been situated in since the beginning of the pandemic. Relying mainly on my archives and my darkroom. I initially set out to make a small artist book, using contact printed negs. This process lead me to realise I could make a small solo show or two from the images I collated. All up I looked at over 539 medium format contact sheets from 1988 to 2021. The first edit for the book culled this down to about 80 images. This was too many for the book I had planned. The excess images may then make up several solo exhibitions.

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Reasons to be elsewhere #20210612

news photo by the guardian depicting Chinese mission staff face-off with police, London. Peter Johns, 1967
Chinese mission staff face-off with police, London. Peter Johns, 1967. Courtesy, Guardian News & Media Archive.

The Photographer’s Gallery in London is exhibiting parts of the Archive of The Guardian Newspaper to, “…delve into the legendary Guardian picture library, to explore photojournalism across the 20th Century and the various ways in which a liberal press employs images to elaborate themes such as feminism, nationalism, post-colonialism, racism, industrial relations, immigration, class and the climate crisis.”

Sadly any travel is still off the cards for the foreseeable future. Who said the tyranny of distance was dead?

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A new Online Exhibition At Thought Factory

Screengrab of front page of the exhibition
Screengrab of front page of the exhibition

Abstraction: different interpretations.

This exhibition features the photography of  Adam Dutkiewicz and Gary Sauer-Thompson. The work in the exhibition builds on the Monash Gallery of Art’s 2012 exhibition entitled Photographic Abstractions ; two earlier abstraction exhibitions curated by Gary Sauer-Thompson at the Centre of Creative Photography in Adelaide, South Australian ( 2016 and 2017 ); the photographic abstraction tradition constructed in the Abstract Photography book by Adam Jan Dutkiewicz and Gary Sauer-Thompson published by Moon Arrow Press in 2016; and Gary’s minor photography in Thoughtfactory’s abstraction blog.

The first 12 images in the exhibition are by Adam Jan Dutkiewicz; the second 12 images are by Gary Sauer-Thompson.

Abstraction: different interpretations – Thought Factory:

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World’s First Photography Exhibition In Space!

BJP's Exhibition in space
Screen grab of BJP’s Exhibition in space

The British Journal of Photography has launched an exhibition in space. It is a 45 minute screen based exhibition beamed from above the earth.

From their website, about the exhibition.

Drawn from Portrait of Humanity, a movement seeking to prove there is more that unites us than sets us apart, the exhibited images showcase the many faces of communities across the world, celebrating humanity in its countless variations.

While the global pandemic forces museums and galleries to remain closed, the film should remind us of our universal bonds, despite being forced apart, with vivid images slowly scrolling across a framed-screen, exhibited against the backdrop of our collective home below.

 

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Covid 19 Responses


Many individuals and organisations have responded to the Pandemic. Here is a website that collates a group of photographers who are contemplating the place we find ourselves in as a culture.

From the about page:-

2020. A new decade represented by climate change, bushfires, drought, a global pandemic and the threat of a great depression. For thousands who work in the arts their immediate and future livelihoods have been dramatically impacted.

As a way of helping to bring our industry together and support the artists, The Kitchen Creative Management in collaboration with Christopher Doyle & Co, SUNSTUDIOS and Momento Pro, have curated this online exhibition to showcase innovative works conceived in 2020.

“Between Today and Tomorrow” is a repository of a society’s collective memory – preserving the artists experience of how it feels to exist in a particular place at a particular time. The time of COVID-19.

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2020 Bowness Shortlist

The 2020 Bowness Shortlist has been announced.

Congratulations to the successful applicants, some of who I know in person; and a couple I have even worked with.

The shortlist is:-

Klari Agar, Belinda Allen, Sam Amar, Riste Andrievski, Emma Armstrong-Porter, Zoe Arnott, Robert Ashton, Narelle Autio, Reza Bagheri, Kate Baker, Charlie Barker, Chris Barry, Chris Bekos, Madeline Bishop, Tom Blachford, Paul Blackmore, Chris Bond and Drew Pettifer, Jesse Boyd-Reid, Jane Brown, Karen Burgess, Jane Burton, Danica Chappell, Ali Choudhry, Peta Clancy, Michael Cook, Nici Cumpston, Matteo Dal Vera and Michael Weatherill, Tamara Dean, Karla Dickens, Stephen Dupont, Louise Faulkner, Jacqueline Felstead, Anne Ferran, Ash Garwood, Amos Gebhardt, Tom Goldner, John Gollings, Philip Gostelow, Helen Grace, Lee Grant, Janina Green, Helen Grogan, Ponch Hawkes, Leila Jeffreys, Shea Kirk, Shivanjani Lal, Kelvin Lau, Honey Long and Prue Stent, Fiona MacDonald, Alister McKeich, Izabela Pluta, Greg Semu, Damien Shen, Slippage, Valerie Sparks, Cyrus Tang, Christian Thompson, Louise Whelan, Amanda Williams, Anne Zahalka

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