Duncan Smith revisited his cultural homeland early this year to develop new work showing the importance of connection to land and culture. As a Wiradjuri man, Smith’s journey took him, with his family, to Wellington and Dubbo in the Orana region of Western New South Wales. Back to Country—an exhibition of paintings and digital images—is the culmination of the project.
Back to Country is 11 exquisitely detailed ochre paintings and 20 digital prints. In the digital works, Smith’s photographs have been layered with elements from his paintings to create rich tapestry-like images.
While the works are visually beautiful they have strong spiritual significance for Smith. Melding landscape with animal and other totems he has created images with great suggestive power. Air, fire, water, drought, land and river dwellers—kangaroo, koala, wombat, snake, goanna, cockatoo, fish, yabby and eel—are all part of the story of his country. And the waterfalls, waterholes, dry creek beds, craggy rock faces, hilltops and trees they inhabit according to their nature. The totems, white dots of body decoration and intricate patterns of Indigenous storytelling add meaning to images—including locations near sacred sites—from nature.
Smith identifies other, closer places as country now. Anzac Parade and the Australian War Memorial become part of his country by association with a totemic kangaroo. The mystery and spiritual significance of Weereewa (Lake George) (Water 2) is suggested by an overlay of intricate storytelling patterns.
Duncan Smith is well known around Canberra for his painting and performances. He is also deeply involved in teaching about his culture in local schools. Smith was one of three artists involved in the 2007 PhotoAccess Indigenous Digital Storytelling project and NAIDOC Week exhibition in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY.
This project and exhibition were supported by the ACT Government through the ACT Arts Fund, by PhotoAccess through its artists in residence program, and by the ACT Indigenous Arts Officer, Neville O’Neill.
Back to Country breaks new ground for Duncan Smith. It is his first solo exhibition in which photography has a predominating role, and the first to so powerfully and directly speak about his country and the things that make up his culture. PhotoAccess is proud to play a part in helping Duncan Smith to tell these stories through this project and the Back to Country exhibition in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 24 April–11 May 2008
I moved to the Captains Flat region in 2001 after returning from almost two years in the Northern Territory. During that time the cost of rental housing in Canberra had sky rocketed. I guess in the long run this worked in my favour because it forced me to look for somewhere to live in the surrounding district.
Captains Flat was more accident than planning. I knew nothing of the town or its history, let alone the people who lived there. At the time it had a population of around 400, one pub, one bowling/RSL club, a café and a post office—but no shop or service station. I used to joke that you could always get cigarettes and beer at the Flat, but not much else.
Seven years on the town has continued to redefine itself as more people like me move to the area, seeking relief from rising housing costs or a quieter life in what is still at heart a small country town.
Captains Flat is by no means unique in terms of its relationship with Canberra. Many small towns that pre date the creation of Canberra as the National Capital are within an hour’s commute. Over the years Queanbeyan, border town, has gained a reputation as Canberra’s less costly cousin, but relationships with Canberra extend well beyond border town.
Driven by my personal relationship with the town itself, the surrounding country and the people who live there, Captains Flat has become the primary focus for my take on what exists—the rich, surprising and sometimes complex community life—Beyond Border Town.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 13–30 March 2008
Edwin Daughtry is a filmmaker and PhotoAccess tutor. He has presented courses and coordinated projects in film editing, digital storytelling and digital photography. 'Wisp' is an experimental short film with music using manipulated shadows and text.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 13 –30 March 2008
'Watson' is Kerry Baylor’s first solo exhibition in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY, although she can be found in or near the gallery most of the time talking about photography or PhotoAccess and its programs.
Since she joined PhotoAccess in 2005 Kerry has shown in all of the Members’ Shows and in the 2007 group show 'Plastic? Fantastic!' Her quirky, retro images of swimmers at Merewether Beach (Newcastle), Kenmore (the former psychiatric institution) and other Goulburn sites, bus travellers in Canberra and people and other subjects close to her are always different and intriguing.
With Robert Burne, Kathleen Fisher, Miguel Gallagher, Lorna Sim, Susan Stayer and Ed Whalan, Kerry is a member of the ‘old spool Betties’, a group of photographers who aim to encourage each other by creating and commenting on images based on a weekly theme. Examples of their work and musings can be found at www.oldspoolbetties.blogspot.c
'Kerry Baylor has a collection of over-loved and under-used vintage cameras. Her photos look like they were taken in the same eras as her cameras were made'.
Kerry Baylor shares a strong interest in narrative photography with many contemporary artists. Like Robyn Stacey, who travelled with her camera to interpret rural life in her 'Queensland—out west' series (1982), Baylor provides a diverse visual sampling of her subject—in this case a Canberra suburb and its people. Her attitude to Watson and its newly developed areas is reflected in the images and in her Artist’s Statement:
'All the houses look the same. I didn’t see anyone enjoying their newness, no one on the street. I felt like I was on the set of a Stephen King movie. Is this the future of suburbs? Creepy!! Sad!!
My images tell the story of my walk. I have come to love Watson, after just liking it for years. And I seem to have it all to myself!!'
Ian North’s 'Canberra Suite' (1980–81) was a product of a wander around the deserted streets of new Canberra suburbs. Unlike North and other narrative artists, Kerry Baylor has boldly asserted her story in strong images endowed with attitude. She can’t be accused of sitting on the fence here, of leaving viewers to read their own meaning into the story. The ‘Majura Rise’ images are starkly pejorative. By contrast, the ‘Some houses’, ‘Green belt’ and ‘The shops’ images are warmer and fonder, but hint at some disappointment Baylor feels with her neighbours’ lack of appreciation for what they have in Watson.
Kerry Baylor’s 'Watson' is a celebration, but not unqualified, of a suburb, its people and their future. This is a story with parallels for other suburbs and other places. PhotoAccess is delighted to present 'Watson' in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 13 –30 March 2008
'Dumbarton Oaks' is Susan Stayer’s first solo exhibition in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at PhotoAccess. Originating in the gardens and grounds of Dumbarton Oaks, a renowned centre for scholarship in Washington, DC, it was first shown (as 'Garden Encounters') at E3 Gallery in New York in late 2005.
The quiet, carefully composed images in 'Dumbarton Oaks' suggest a setting conducive to creativity and learning, like the settings for comparable Australian centres—including Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River and the Varuna Writers’ Centre in the Blue Mountains, both in New South Wales. Places like these grow in importance as contemplative, supportive environments for creative work become more rare. Stayer says:
'The gardens are peaceful and inviting. They encourage further exploration and are quick to yield wonderful surprises. The photographs here represent a small sample of what I've discovered over the course of many visits to Dumbarton Oaks.'
Stayer identifies with the Paris images of French photographer Eugène Atget, images revealing she says, a ‘… unique vision and mysterious beauty’. But history tells us Atget had no artistic interest in the images he made. Rejecting the title of artist:
'He had no time for Man Ray [a neighbour in Montparnasse in the 1920s] or the Surrealists and responded to their interest in his images by saying, ‘These are simple documents I make.’ And yet today these documents are sought after for their clear and unique vision, for their mysterious beauty, for their evidence of a personal passion …’ (Maria Connolly, Eugène Atget and Haunted Paris: Trees, Parks and Architecture @ www.iphotocentral.com)
If Atget’s images have status as artworks regardless of his intention, Susan Stayer’s images are successful because she begins with an artist’s point of view. In these images and her other work Stayer demonstrates well developed visual instincts and a constant search for memorable, soulful images. Harold Cazneaux, in his studies of the garden at Ambleside, his family home in Sydney, and Olive Cotton are amongst the best known Australian artist photographers to have had parallel interests.
With Kerry Baylor, Robert Burne, Kathleen Fisher, Miguel Gallagher, Lorna Sim and Ed Whalan, Susan Stayer is a member of the ‘old spool Betties’, a group of photographers who aim to encourage each other by creating and commenting on images based on a weekly theme. Examples of their work and musings can be found at www.oldspoolbetties.blogspot.c
Susan Stayer’s images created immediate interest when she participated in 'Access all areas 2007: The PhotoAccess Member’s Show'. Her work continues to impress. 'Dumbarton Oaks' is a serious, memorable exhibition and PhotoAccess is delighted to present it in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
Residue is two exhibitions in one—Holly Schulte’s Nightfalls and Valentina Schulte’s Walking Tour: Part 2—each taking an individual path to suggesting significance and presence beyond the visual surface of place.
Holly Schulte was a member of PhotoAccess for some years, presenting work in group shows until her departure for Sydney via the UK in 2004. Nightfalls is based on images made in Sydney’s inner west. Valentina Schulte’s images were made in places she has visited overseas.
Holly and Valentina, cousins, speak of their shared concerns in these terms:
Histories are documented through words, but literary descriptions can fail to convey the entirety of a time and place. When visiting a place one may feel an underlying energy resonating. The experience, indescribable, surreptitious, hard to quantify in words, causes a physical sensation for unexplainable reasons. This personal connection can be interpreted as evidence that the land and cityscapes in which we dwell have subconscious messages to convey, communicating more than might first meet the eye.
We present our interpretations of this indescribable residue, drawing on the otherness and understated in the built environment, exploring modest or banal spaces that illustrate the presence of human activity.
The intuitive eye explores each location; the captured frame visualising the idea of at once being alone and enveloped in something more than a seemingly void space. Just as our dreams combine existing and imagined elements these images are grounded in reality yet possess something more.
The work of both artists is atmospheric and beautifully realised.
Holly Schulte is a suburban voyeur. Her recomposed images have a startling abstract quality that draws on the forms and details of suburban back streets at the first fall of night. We look into black and lit windows without seeing, but imagining, the people who live in these places. Holly’s images hint at the sort of people we might find here, but leave space for us to conjure up the reality of their lives.
Valentina Schulte reconnoiters places with her camera, a flâneur with a keen eye to understanding and conveying the ineffable. While her aesthetic suggests a detached observer, Valentina’s images are carefully made to nudge us towards a deeper contemplation of the places she has visited. They speak of the concerns and impacts of humans beyond the visible surface of the natural and built environments.
PhotoAccess is delighted to show Holly and Valentina Schulte’s Residue in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 6–23 November 2008
Capturing The Moment For Perhaps The Last Time—The National Tally Room 2007
Mark Arundel’s Capturing The Moment For Perhaps The Last Time—The National Tally Room 2007 is an unusual exhibition for PhotoAccess. And not just because of its very long title.
Our exhibitions are seldom linked to highly visible moments in the nation’s history. The 2007 Federal Election ended the Howard years and resulted in the election of Labor to government after nearly twelve years in Opposition. Election day and the reporting of results will be remembered by most Australians because of the change of government, because of their mandatory involvement in the vote and the media’s saturation coverage. Kevin ’07, Labor leader Kevin Rudd, graciously accepted the will of the people and John Howard, also graciously, walked away from politics.
Mark Arundel has chosen to give us a particular perspective on the 2007 Federal Election—not the politics but the mechanism and people that delivered the poll result to the nation.
You didn’t have to be in the National Tally Room on 24 November 2007 to know that the noise and goings on of the huge crowd on the Tally Room floor was annoying the hell out of ABC TV’s Kerry O’Brien and Anthony Green. If you were in the Tally Room you will have picked up on the wave of excitement that accompanied the unfolding events. You may have seen the long queues including, surprisingly, families and visitors to Australia, all waiting their chance to enter the Tally Room to experience the vibe and the eventual election result.
In creating the images for Capturing The Moment For Perhaps The Last Time—The National Tally Room 2007 Mark Arundel has gone beyond the television moments to represent the whole story of the National Tally Room with:
… 3689 single framed digital photographs and a time-lapse video of the entire process of building and running the NTR between 12 November and 28 November 2007. As well as single framed photographs I also produced a set of 180-degree panoramas of the build taken from three fixed locations in the NTR, three times a day. I have been told by staff from the AEC that my collection is the first ever continuous photographic record of the build from start to finish.
Arundel’s technical accomplishment is staggering. We only see a fraction of the result in this exhibition, but what he has given us is a powerful and insightful narrative that humanises and makes real the culmination of an election, a narrative that argues a case for retaining the National Tally Room as a critical institution at the heart of our democracy.
PhotoAccess is very pleased to present Mark Arundel’s Capturing The Moment For Perhaps The Last Time—The National Tally Room 2007 in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
Mark will give an artist talk on Sunday 9 November at 2pm
Mark will be in the gallery on Thursday the 20th November from 7-9 to speak to visitors about his work.
Opening 2pm 11 October
The work was produced as a result of an ACT Government/PhotoAccess funded professional development project, which Whalan undertook in 2007.
Whalan has a particular interest in the way atmosphere and character in landscape and architecture are wrought by changing light. ‘Beyond Border Town’ explores the physical and psychological landscape of Whalan’s hometown, Captains Flat.
X Gallery is at 32 Gibraltar Street, Bungendore, and opens weekends from 10.30am till 5pm, Friday and Monday from 11am till 5pm and Tuesday to Thursday by appointment. X Gallery phone 6238 0550. The show continues until 24 November.
Artist talk and practical workshop on 19th October more info here
Huw Davies: Everything under the sun … shows aspects of the life and work of Huw Davies. Huw was involved in community photographic projects and group and solo exhibitions during the 1980s and early 1990s in Canberra and Sydney. The title comes from Huw’s words to promote Of a Political Nature, a May 1986 PhotoAccess exhibition curated by him:
Everything under the sun is out there in the landscape, from the sublime experience of spiritual unity with nature to the most brutal exploitation of mother earth and its resources. Landscape photography presents the artist with a limitless canvas, rich in tone, colour, texture and allegory.
It also refers to the remarkable range of interests Huw pursued in his work and the exhibitions and projects he was associated with in his lifetime.
'Compressed', by Canberra photographer and multimedia artist Chris Morrison, is an eight minute widescreen Multimedia Room projection and music track made from 14,000 digital images shot using time lapse photography in Canberra and Sydney.
Artist Talk at Sunday in the Gallery, Sunday 10 August from 1.30pm
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 17 July–3 August 2008
Rewa Nolan, photographer and multimedia artist, explores the coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. Sailing through uncharted waters and climbing unnamed peaks brings us closer to the realities and the scale of this powerful landscape. Rewa shows us this landscape using 3D stereograms, panoramic photographs and a Multimedia Room video installation.
Artist’s talk Sunday 27 July from 1:30pm
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 12 June–15 July 2008
A multimedia room installation, projection and sound collage developed during a residency in Montenegro and first shown at the Academy of Fine Art, Cetinje in late 2007.
Preview at http://hingstonbrook.com/10crn
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 12 June–4 July 2008
Beijing based Richard Fairbrother’s second HUW DAVIES GALLERY exhibition is a very personal view of the new Beijing and things making way for the modern city seen by visitors and the television audience for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
HUW DAVIES GALLERY 15 May– 6 June 2008
Blockbuster is an overused term in the visual arts, but there’s no avoiding it writing about Access all areas 2008. It’s a blockbuster—93 works by 51 members almost bursting the seams of the HUW DAVIES GALLERY. One result is an extremely challenging, what some may see as peculiar hang inviting the question where to from here?
We could consider moving to larger premises, or presenting only a selection of the work submitted, restricting the size of images, or any number of other rationalist options. But most of them would deny our members the right, not available anywhere else in Canberra and the region, to show the highly valued results of their efforts to the community in which they live. And to see them alongside the work of other members at all stages of development, interested in a vast array of subjects and employing all manner of media.
We are genuinely delighted to say that Access all areas 2008 represents PhotoAccess in all of its diversity: new and longstanding members, young and older members, members of the PhotoAccess board, all of the staff and many of our tutors, present and past artists in residence, and a number of artists who have had solo shows or participated in group shows with us in recent years.
It’s very risky to single out individuals for mention in a group show like this, but we are very pleased to welcome a number of people for the first time, including Gilbert Herrada, Christine Rufflet, Steve Lovegrove, Bhavana Moylan, Nathan Lanham, Sindhu Quinn, Jessie Boylan, Nick Fisher, Alexia Meslin. Simon Vellnagel-Dunn, John Nguyen, Wolf Sverak, Richard Scherer, Frank Galdys and Anna Madeleine. Equally welcome are some members who have been absent for a while, including Barb Smith, Lauren Hewitt, Marilyn Landau and Karen Woodward.
Engaging and challenging work has come again this year from many of our more established names, and we are very pleased with their continuing support of the annual members shows which continue to be a highlight of the increasingly rich and full HUW DAVIES GALLERY exhibition program.
Michael Barnsley’s exhibition record is brief. He has shown his images to family and friends and used them to illustrate publications. But A Fractal Eye for The Colours of Nature is the first public showing of these extraordinary images—landscape photographs and film transformed into mystifying, beautiful detail by the application of fractal geometry.
Contrasting with his exhibition record, Barnsley’s career in mathematics and business has resulted in an extensive professional CV. He is a world leader in the development of fractal compression technology, and is the author of two major books, Fractals Everywhere published by Morgan Kauffman in the US (first and second editions) and SuperFractals published in 2007 by Cambridge University Press in the UK. Michael Barnsley is a professor of mathematics at the ANU who divides his time between Australia and the US.
A Fractal Eye for The Colours of Nature is the most significant visual expression of Michael Barnsley’s lifelong interest in the natural world:
'All my life, everyday, nature calls my eyes to stare and stare with wonder; I have a sense of the pristine, the perfect which lives both in mathematics and in the visual observable world. My art tries to capture this, to see again, as though for the first time, the beauty of it all.'
Considering his background, it was not surprising that the challenge of rendering landscape in fresh, more interesting ways should have led Michael Barnsley to the work shown in A Fractal Eye for The Colours of Nature. The processes he has employed to produce these works will intrigue visitors to the HUW DAVIES GALLERY. But after the ‘straight’ images have been pulled apart and re-formed according to Barnsley’s vision and complex computations, questions remain. Does the process add anything to our perception of the landscape? Are the final images interesting and worth exploring?
A Fractal Eye for The Colours of Nature is a mix of earlier works, showing the possibilities of fractal transformation on a small canvas, and large scale more recent works that demonstrate the power of this process to penetrate and illuminate landscape. Michael Barnsley’s journey from the early works to the five large images in this exhibition represents, in my view, a profound shift in creative achievement and unequivocally answers questions concerning the worth of his efforts. Knowing Michael Barnsley, his passion, determination and visual inquisitiveness, I am certain this exhibition will be followed by many others that will attract great interest.
PhotoAccess is delighted to have been able to present Michael Barnsley’s work to the wider Canberra community in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
Although this is her first solo exhibition in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY, Bronwyn Jewell is a key figure in the history of PhotoAccess.
As Artistic Director through the 1990s Bronwyn helped consolidate the work of the first group of PhotoAccess members and workers. Bronwyn was committed to the strong community ethos established by the founding group (the ‘Photoaccessories’) in 1984, including projects for people denied creative opportunities for many different reasons.
After leaving her position as Artistic Director, Bronwyn returned to chair the PhotoAccess board, playing a pivotal role in guiding the association through a period of organisational and financial stress. Her energy and commitment gave PhotoAccess its base and raison d’être as a 21st century visual arts organisation with a strong and continuing community focus. Through all these years Bronwyn contributed to group exhibitions at PhotoAccess, Canberra Contemporary Art Space and elsewhere in Canberra, and had three solo exhibitions—at Tilley Divine’s, and Kingston’s former Jardine Street Gallery and EJ’s restaurant and bar.
In late 2003 Bronwyn Jewell moved to Brisbane. The Shorncliffe Line marks a very welcome, albeit brief, return to PhotoAccess. It is a tribute to her new home town and a significant departure from her previous work, generally posed and costumed friends with unusual stories to tell.
The Shorncliffe Line is made up of abstract images full of colour and movement. Their uniform horizontal format contributes to the sense of travelling through a landscape. Rich blues and blacks are a perfect ground for the direct and reflected gold of the sun. Other images cover the spectrum of colour from deep olive and khaki to dusty pink and vivid orange. There are recognisable elements—fences, benches, tags, tickets—but they have no corporeal identity. Along with reflections, shadows, raindrops and the blur of movement they contribute to carefully developed abstract patterns. The images are unique but at the same time familiar—recognisably part of the visual and emotional experience of a train ride through the suburbs of a large city.
Bronwyn Jewell’s The Shorncliffe Line is a beautiful, evocative exhibition. PhotoAccess is delighted to welcome Bronwyn back to Canberra to show The Shorncliffe Line in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
This is Ian Copland’s second solo exhibition in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY. Structures, shown in April last year, was an outstanding first exhibition depicting the architectural detail and surface patterns of three of Canberra’s national institutions.
Ian Copland’s exceptional compositional skills and strong feeling for colour were demonstrated in Structures. They are shown again in People—but here there is another dimension to his work. People is story telling with an important message.
Copland refers to this work as street photography illustrating human diversity. There can be no argument that his images suggest a world of considerable differences. They challenge us to consider the way we perceive people and difference. As in most street photography the subjects are approached objectively, but here in many cases without the illumination of context. The images straddle the boundaries of street photography and portraiture.
The striking images in the first part of the exhibition are diverse people brought together by attendance at a single event. They are starkly drawn, carved out of a bright blue sky. Their clothing, stance and groupings might be suggestive of their cultural background and attitude to this shared occasion, but there is little information to validate any reading a viewer might make of their thoughts, personalities and lives.
Titles and context provide assistance in the second part of the exhibition. These images are loaded with clues and suggestions. We feel we know something about the subjects and their stories, from the beatific nun in a Glasgow street to the charged up, buffed up man crossing Oxford Street, and the Sydney brothers who seem to display their personalities on their heads. This question comes to mind, though: do we know the people in this group more definitively than those in the first group or is the only objective reality their shared humanity?
Copland’s important message emerges from his intriguing, huge collage, bringing the people in these first two groups and many others together with the people in the final group—four moving black and white images of people in an institution. They are people Copland worked with many years ago, individuals with their own stories and personalities. But, like us all, just people.
PhotoAccess is delighted to show Ian Copland’s People in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.