New Photobook & Sundry Upcoming Events

A selection of books made since about 2004 to 2022
A selection of books made since about 2004 to 2022

I am in the end stages of a new photobook. It’s titled Not Landscape. I am hoping the print run of 20 copies will be here in time for the photo 2022 weekend photobook fair 21st and 22nd of May. This book came together relatively quickly. After discovering a website of obscure avant garde art UbuWeb, I watched a rare video by John Baldessari, titled “I shall not make any more boring art”. Baldessari had also made a series of photographs in the 70s that poked fun at the “rules” of photography, seen here on his website. Also here.

Concurrently I had been mulling over how I made an earlier book using Blurb. ‘What’s the ugliest part of your body?’. When making it. I had decided to compromise on its layout and not crop the images resulting in a book that few people handled correctly as it was landscape orientation. As a consequence it had lots of wasted white space. I feel this didn’t add anything to the idea. This time I decided that I would print full bleed, and use pictures that were portrait in orientation. I also wanted to add some text to engage the reader. So after perusing my library and searching the internet I found of series of snippets of text and quotes that posed pointed questions about landscape, landscape art, and landscape photography. With these two ideas in mind I collated as many images as I could that were portrait in format, ie Not Landscape, the book’s title, printed out a set of them. Then started editing them into a book.

A spread from the first draft of my 2022 book, Not Landscape.
A spread from the first draft of my 2022 book, Not Landscape.
A spread from the first draft of my 2022 book, Not Landscape.
A spread from the first draft of my 2022 book, Not Landscape.

I have some copies of my ‘What’s the ugliest part of your body?’ left. These are $15.00 each, and after making them now consider it unlikely I will make a second edition.

The cover of my 2017 book, What's the ugliest part of your body?
The cover of my 2017 book, What’s the ugliest part of your body?

I have one copy of my book Contact for sale as well.

Contact my Pandemic inspired photobook from 2020/2021
Contact my Pandemic inspired photobook from 2020/2021

So pop on down to the Melbourne Art Book Fair this weekend 17th to the 20th of March, to purchase a copy of either ‘What’s the ugliest part of your body?’ or Contact. Hopefully Not Landscape will be on offer as well. Our stand is Melbourne Photobook Collective.

Alternatively the Photo 2020 is running a photobook weekend there will be some of my books there too, 21st May [12 to 7pm] and 22nd May [12 to 4pm]  at PSC 37-47 Thistlethwaite St, South Melbourne.

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On the cusp

As we reach the end of summer here in Australia, I’ve been exploiting the  the effects of La Niña. With the Melbourne Art Book Fair approaching rapidly, I was hesitant to head out to make pictures but this Friday the weather was just right, so I exploited that and made pictures for a couple of hours.

google earth view of the are explored
google earth view of the are explored

I initially set out to make some pictures as teaching aids, but as I was on a bridge near the ring road, I decided to wander towards an aspect of the Maribrynong river that has always intrigued me.

I started under the EG Whitten bridge. A sad spot in so many ways. So much rubbish just dumped. I am unsure about the status of the land under the bridge as well. I know that the edges of rivers up to the high tide mark are considered crown land, but this land is well above that and also bordered by some private land. The western side of the river seems mostly private. This has been heavily impacted by trail bikes and other uses. This is the part I found most interesting. As the bike riders reshape the topography.

An early influence for me as a student of photography was Joe Deal’s work, The Fault Zone Portfolio, a group of 19 silver gelatin prints that documented suburban life along the San Andreas Fault Line in Southern California. This place reminds me of that except the forces at play are much more human in scale.

I only took digital equipment with me on this occasion. Given what I saw I’m sure a return visit is in order with at least my Hasselblad. It would be no mean feat to cary this equipment in, but more than worth it under the right lighting conditions.

Maribrynong River from the EJ Whitten Bridge
Maribrynong River from the EJ Whitten Bridge in 2019
Rubbish, and sticker art under the EJ Whitten Bridge
Rubbish, and sticker art under the EJ Whitten Bridge
Dirt Bike tracks litter the area
Dirt Bike tracks litter the area
Landfill to the left and natural landscape to the right
Landfill to the left and natural landscape to the right

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Summer 2021-2022

For the second year running the skies in Melbourne have been far more photographic and overcast than I remember in summer.

I really exploited this in the quiet period from when I started my holidays to the new year. Many construction sites are closed at this time of year. This makes it even easier to photograph these places. I have shot more than 3 rolls of 120 film and about 20 sheets of 5×4 film. The results at this point seem pleasing.

This year I didn’t borrow a digital DSLR from work so the only digital files I’m making are using my iPhone.

These are the images I’m adding to this post. I also used the quiet time to scout a few possible locations moving forward. I’m very interested in the infrastructure projects going on right now all around Melbourne. In particular I’m interested in the ones that are close to me ie the inner west.

These are going to change the fabric of these suburbs. For better or worse I don’t know. But change they will and I’m trying to capture as much as I can, while I can.

Melbourne Docklands, 2022-01-04
Melbourne Docklands, 2022-01-04 12:33:53
Melbourne's Infrastructure is booming
Docklands Melbourne 2022:01:04 11:52:0
Melbourne Docklands 2022:01:04 11:38:27
Melbourne Docklands 2022:01:04 11:38:27, looking east over the former wholesale fruit market
Footscray Road and construction 2022:01:04 11:31:35
Footscray Road and construction 2022:01:04 11:31:35
Footscray Road facing east, 2022:01:05 16:33:31
Footscray Road facing east, 2022:01:05 16:33:31
West Melbourne Facing east 2022:01:08 16:37:43
West Melbourne Facing east 2022:01:08 16:37:43
West Melbourne, near Dynon road facing east, 2022:01:08 16:28:47
West Melbourne, near Dynon road facing east, 2022:01:08 16:28:47
West Melbourne train yards facing east, 2022:01:08 16:37:31
West Melbourne train yards facing east, 2022:01:08 16:37:31

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Project’s end?

Eight years after I began making the same picture on each day I was at work. Always at 8:30. Always from the same position. The project has now ended.

The changes in the scene that were most notable, were the weather. Others included the tree.

Often the picture made at 8:30 in no way reflected the weather for that day either before or after 8:30. Which isn’t reflected in the imagery itself.

The linchpin, that helped me decide to end it was the removal the tree. The tree had suffered some damage in the storms we had 10 days or so prior, and in the interim someone decided it needed to be removed entirely.

Here’s the first picture made in February 2014.

And the last made in December 2021.

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Vernacular Housing?

 Vernacular Housing in Sunshine
Typical Vernacular Housing in Sunshine

A week or so ago, I made some pictures of the houses in Wright Street Sunshine that may disappear in the next few years. With one empty block and 2 for sale signs in a strip of a dozen or so house this makes for some big changes afoot. What I neglected to mention or perhaps didn’t recognise was that most of these buildings follow a similar style and appearance. I’m guessing that at some point a government agency was involved with these house’s construction.

Map of the inner west showing the site of the former RAAF base.
Former RAAF base in Tottenham marked in red, in relation to my house on the extreme left.

Thirty years ago there was an active RAAF base on a site that is now light industry and shopping centre a couple of Kilometres down the road. The site was sold to private developers in 1983(1)

There are some existing buildings of a similar style near the old site and they share similar characteristics to the ones I photographed in Wright Street. The common denominators that connect them are the materials. Fibre Cement is common. Small footprint and tiled roofs others.

The current formula that seems to be being applied to these old buildings, is the old houses are demolished. Then if the site permits several small units are built in their place. While these new units are dotted around the suburb, the danger of a homogeneous streetscape looms large.

Given that Wright Street is an arterial road then I doubt there may be that much new development going up. Keeping an eye on planning permits and council notifications will enable me to track these changes. Thereby producing a meaningful record of the suburb as it changes.

Footnotes

(1) Moca, P. 2015, Forty years ago May 28, 1975 Sunshine’s town clerk, Mr Bill Deutschmann,…[Derived Headline], Airport West, Vic.

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Some West Suburban Bungalows

In 1966, Ed Ruscha photographed ‘Every building on the Sunset Strip‘ in Los Angeles. It became a book and the original is highly sought after. I have seen the copy the NGV has in its collection. Such a simple and elegant idea. The book is one long accordion type book. It is small but intriguing. I have attempted my own version of the idea twice now. Once in Yarraville with a small stretch of houses that have since been demolished, for the Regional Rail Link. The ‘album’ is on flickr it is entitled Buckley Street Seddon. It took  approximately 40 minutes to make those pictures.

I did the same recently, only this time I walked along Wright Street, Sunshine, from Stanford Street to Hampshire Road.

64 Wright Street, Sunshine
64 Wright Street, Sunshine
66 Wright Street, Sunshine
66 Wright Street, Sunshine
68 Wright Street, Sunshine
68 Wright Street, Sunshine
70 Wright Street, Sunshine
70 Wright Street, Sunshine
72 Wright Street, Sunshine
72 Wright Street, Sunshine
74 Wright Street, Sunshine
74 Wright Street, Sunshine
76 Wright Street, Sunshine
76 Wright Street, Sunshine
78 Wright Street, Sunshine
78 Wright Street, Sunshine
80 Wright Street, Sunshine
80 Wright Street, Sunshine
82 Wright Street, Sunshine
82 Wright Street, Sunshine
84 Wright Street, Sunshine
84 Wright Street, Sunshine
86 Wright Street, Sunshine
86 Wright Street, Sunshine
88 Wright Street, Sunshine
88 Wright Street, Sunshine
90 Wright Street, Sunshine
90 Wright Street, Sunshine
92 Wright Street, Sunshine
92 Wright Street, Sunshine
94 Wright Street, Sunshine
94 Wright Street, Sunshine

I started at the Stanford street and walked West, the numbers on that side of the street are even numbers. I excluded the corner houses. The photography component took all of 20 minutes.

There was one empty block primed and ready for redevelopment. And two other blocks with for sale signs on them. Big changes are indeed afoot. What form shape or size they will take remains to be seen I guess?

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Walking & Photography [Online Exhibition]

screengrab from the exhibtion organsied by Gary Sauer-Thompson
screengrab from the exhibtion organsied by Gary Sauer-Thompson

The response to the pandemic in the arts industry has been overwhelmingly positive. SALA is running its entire festival through artists websites this year. I have been very fortunate in that Gary Sauer-Thompson via his studio in Encounter Bay invited me to exhibit with an idea that explored the pandemic. The online exhibition is entitled, ‘Walking/Photography’, its premise is simple:-

“The exhibition explores the interrelationships between these two modes of being-in-the-world. The ethos is to go for a walk in your local area, where you can find what you don’t know you are looking for. It is a step into the photographic unknown that uncovers the forgotten or buried history of the area.”

The ‘exhibtion’ opens on the 1st of August and runs until the 30th of September.

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