Silver in Sunshine (Stanza One)
Silver in Sunshine is an ongoing project. Commenced sometime after 2000. Which is when my partner and I purchased and moved into our current house. This work is the first part of a poem to a place I have called home since the year 2000. In my spare time I’ve been exploring and capturing this vibrant and changing suburb on film and digital. It’s my way to immortalise the areas of my suburb which are overlooked.
My formal education was primarily in analogue processes. This part of the project photographs are silver gelatin prints. This is the first of several exhibitions I hope to show over the coming years. The negatives span several years of production from 2006 and is ongoing. All are silver gelatin prints 19cm x 19 cm. Hand printed using traditional silver gelatin printing processes in the summer 2018.
One day, while whiling away time in between lunch and dinner on a weekend, like so many others in Melbourne. I walked down a street that I knew would be full of life and activity. My aim was to make some interesting pictures of the activity, it was St. Patrick’s Day. While Australia is relatively secular by world standards, there are enough Irish visitors and distant relatives of the Irish immigrants integral to our history to make the day busy. It was also the weekend.
My wanderings didn't amount to a great deal pictorially, but at some point afterwards one image caught my eye. It was of an empty shop, with green walls and a contrasting purple set of stairs strewn with some detritus at the rear, photographed using my smart-phone. For some reason this image struck a chord with me, perhaps the colour, perhaps the objects strewn on the floor, whatever it was, it seemed a pleasing image. As I scrolled though my digital archive a few days after, I started to notice other empty shops I’d photographed prior to this one, most likely subconsciously.
All had a similar composition. It then dawned on me it may be possible to create a body of work that examined this phenomenon of empty shops, after all, Australia at this point was meant to be weathering the GFC quite well. Yet these shops were not difficult to find. I spent the summer of 2012~2013 walking the shopping strips that radiate outwards from the central business district. Breaking down the city by major arterial road and drawing a rough boundary at the approximate 10 kilometre mark I felt I could ‘document’ these strange edifices, all similar, yet subtly different.
I found the size and shape of my smart phone suited this project quite well. I could quickly and easily traverse long stretches of road photographing any and all I encountered, by the end of the summer I had almost covered ¾ of the northwest of the city. The size of the device and its design meant I could jam the camera hard against the glass and photograph through it. The composition was easy to recreate from shop to shop, again made easy by the way the camera on my phone worked.
This project was in fact only made possible by technology, the smart phone I carried everywhere with its discrete form factor and portability meant images could be made any time anywhere and I would never need to gain legal access to the properties in question. I may never had considered it at all if I had not been successful at making a couple of interesting pictures through dirty glass. Currently this idea is hosted on tumblr.com.
Bridge is at once a metaphor and a series of documents; I perceive the idea of a bridge forming strong connections, between two opposing sides of a chasm. Bridges will stand defiant, even if the traffic they formerly carried is diverted. Bridges often occupy incongruous places, unless you're a homeless person, then it is a place called home. However for everyone else they are often places of no-mans land or serve a utilitarian purpose such as a parking space. I began this project using a large format film camera; I continue using it to this day. Some digitised samples of the work are hosted on flickr.com.
The cameras of the late 20th and early 21st centuries are really computers with a lens attached and a light sensitive sensor built-in. The information they gather at the press of a shutter is copious. They now can even provide specific geo-locational coordinates including altitude.
These tools now mean a photo contains even more information about the time and place the picture was made. The slippery definition of why a picture was made at any given moment continues to remain difficult to pinpoint, however. These images are made on my daily travels, I sometimes call them gestural photographs, made in passing and in fleeting moments. This idea is really suited to the Internet. I explore the idea in several places online. These sites were originally created especially for this purpose. One on blogger.com from 2004~2009, the other tumblr.com 2009, to the present, as well as on flickr.com.
A map is meant to guide and describe the location and terrain between various points.
Photographs of surfaces, can sometimes look like maps.
Sometimes maps don't give the whole picture, photography is very good at giving only part of the picture. These small, silver gelatin prints attempt to mediate between maps and photographs between fact and fiction.
Some examples are hosted on flickr.com
This view has change dramatically since I began this project.
I chose the day and time simply because of the numbers. The time conincidentally also turned out to be the latest time I could manage a picture without a tripod at the winter solstice. It was when I would most likely be at home as well.
Hosted on tumblr.
I have been living in Sunshine since the early 2000s. I have photographed in places that always caught my eye. Sometime around early 2017 I realised I had a project that had been going for neary 10 years! I now consciously watch and revisit certain parts of my suburb and try and make good pictures of the area as it changes. The digital component resides on tumblr and my analogue work gets trotted out when I have the time and inclination to print and exhibit it.
'C' Roads & other adventures
Time is a resource I try not to squander. As an educator I have several long breaks throughout the year. Sometimes I occupy my time by driving around Victoria, when I am so inclined. I try to stay off the major arterial roads when I do this. In Victoria these roads are called, 'C Roads'.
This body of work takes aspects of Surrealism and aspects of the Situationists to create a series of pictures whose only connection is the device I used to make them. Usually a smart phone. It is hosted on flickr.
Wandering unfamiliar territory makes picture making easier in some ways. What can be more difficult though can be finding those unfamiliar places in the metropolis you reside in?
This body of work is hosted on flickr and is only digital. I try and treat my environment as uncharted when moving around my native city, Melbourne. Often using public transport.
Traversing foreign cities though makes this body of work easy to expand on, but wandering Melbourne is a tad more challenging. This idea is in part inspired by the Situationists.
Abstractions [Peeling Posters]
These montages of peeling advertising posters built up over years of pasting and re-pasting create a multi textured surface with many abstract intersections of text, printing artefacts and colour. These images are captured as I hunt them down. Most of the sites have been re-pasted with more advertising, others, simply decaying away further.
Nine of these images are available as 6 inch x 4 inch postcards for $2.00 ech plus postage.
Completed Projects; Artist Statements
Thanks Pandemic 2022
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 the 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 a one more thank you.
Thank you to my wife for her patience and input and being a steady rock when I needed it the most.
Backdoor at work
Everyday that I work I step outside onto the back step of our building at NCAT and make an image. It is always 08:30 when I make this image. I've gotten more interested in photography as time travel in recent years. This is one of two projects I use to explore these ideas.
Hosted on Tumblr, I upload usually at the end of the week and rarely miss taking a picture. However if I'm late or am sick or on holidays then no picture is made.
This project ended in 2021, as the scene was radically modified.
In Australia, a property with a northerly aspect is considered more valuable than one without. In the middle of the 20th century big backyards were considered normal for most suburban houses.
A combination of Northerly aspect and large backyard has the potential for many to be a really treasured experience. As a photographer, it has an added bonus, the light all year round sweeps across the yard lightning it in all sorts of ways. Combined with seasonal change and the physical movement of objects within it sets the scene for a series of work that knows no end, a perfect web-based project; this work is hosted on tumblr.com
[Edit 2020] Our backyard was re-landscaped in 2019. Our house renovated in 2017. This meant the end of this project. However it lead to another idea that is not a new idea but interesting none the less. It too is hosted on Tumblr and is titled Saturday 17:17.
Victoria University has its share of Grey institutionalised buildings, inside and out. Room c511 is no exception. It is placed precariously in a way that turns weather watching into a past-time. Every time I am in the room, I try to make at least one picture of the view. The view never changes, or rather very slowly, but the light and the weather always put on a show! Currently this work is hosted on tumblr.com.
As I no longer work for Victoria University this project has ended.
In the late 1990s I bought a Polaroid spectra camera; the cameras and film were still common at this point. I experimented as best I could given the constraint of the cost of the film. The sequence here is chosen more for their strange pictorial descriptions of what existed in front of the lens when I pressed the shutter than anything else. Subverting a camera's controls to produce interesting pictures while constrained by the 'automated' features of a camera is a long unshakable desire of mine.
Freezing entropy. One noticeboard, changes, slowly, and the camera records it for prosperity. This work is currently hosted on tumblr.com
The series has stalled. As 1 I no longer work at that campus and 2, inexplicably the noticeboard stopped being used.
Doorways to the West
I live in an industrial area west of Melbourne. Manufacturing has declined sharply over the last decade or so. Life in the estates of small to medium manufacturing enterprises has diminished proportionally. Many doors are closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future. This is a typological study of the doors within walking distance of my home.
As western capitalism groans under the strain of cheap Asian mass production, once productive factories across Melbourne close or decrease production, their doorways lean and gaunt, like the factory floors they protect, testament to a once bustling industry of manufacture now in decline.
Doors protect, shield and guard, they also block and defend. Their duality is both obvious yet ignored, they may reveal much about their interiors or hide them from view. Can we learn something from these guardians are they revelatory or secretive, can they reveal something about us or do they hide as much they reveal. Each has its own personality, each a new story to retell.
A Typology of Concrete
Concrete, the most mundane of all surfaces, is commonly found on many industrial and domestic buildings in Australia. It has become a dominant means of construction in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It is invariably left in its natural grey colour once buildings are complete. This then means, with the right light, it can become a fantastic abstraction.
Adding environmental changes such as moisture to the mix along with surface and texture can then make the photographed concrete barely recognisable.
"Art & Mathematics"
This body of work was inspired in part by a Frederik Sommer quote. And by the freedom that digital photography allowed me. The work subconsciously began with my first digital camera as it freed me to make pictures of everything around me to see what they looked like photographed; digitally.
It came to fruition when flickr.com came on-line and I could then organise and free associate pictures any way I cared to imagine. Eventually I published a book of the sequence, due in part to the then new on-line services offering print on demand.
Dot or . as I like to call it, was inspired in part by Lewis Baltz's seminal body of work in the 70's, The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California, currently residing on flickr.com, I hope to publish this as a book; one day.