aboriginal presence at Encounter Bay

I've started  to research what happened to the Ramindjeri people, the traditional owners of the land,  after the conquest of their lands and British settlement of  the Fleurieu Peninsula. The settler history is a narrative of  from pioneer port to seaside resort' and this narrative is premised on the the ‘great Australian silence’ in regard to Indigenous people and their history. 

The research is  for the second historical  part of Fleurieuscapes project.  The art historical context of the project is that Australian arts practice abandoned the landscape in the 1960’s at the end of Modernism, the last major figures being Williams, Nolan and Olsen as arts practice entered post modernity and deconstruction. Whilst there are notable exceptions (Storrier, Robinson etc.), landscape representation was left to Aboriginal peoples as Aboriginal painting emerged from the deserts of Central Australia. 

The second  part of the Fleuriescapes project looks at the  significant  historical sites of the Fleurieu Peninsula from the vantage point  of the traditional owners (both the Ramindjeri and the Ngarrindjeri) in  a post-colonial Australia. This history is one where many of the traditional people living on the Fleurieu Peninsula and along the Corrong  were massacred. Those who survived had the power to govern their lives removed, as well as their connections to the land and the space, and as well as their language to articulate their view of what had happened to them. 

The picture below is of the site of an old sealing/whaling station at Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor  that preceded British settlement. The contact  is circa 1830's,  and one of the prime reason  for the Europeans to make contact with aboriginal people was to seek women. Eventually,  some of the Ramindjeri men and women  worked as harpooners and whale spotters. 

 There was another  sealing/whaling station at  Granite Island in Victor Harbor  Many of the Ramindjeri people succumbed to the small pox epidemic which swept the area in the 1830s and then to general disease.  In 1872 the whaling industry, which had started on Kangaroo Island around 1806,  and which produced whale oil  and bones for export,  closed down due to a lack of Southern Right whales.

reflections on photography in Wellington

I've been continuing to search the web looking for more Wellington-based art photographers,  other than  those I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog and on a post here. I was interested in those art  photographers who had an online presence,  and  in my search I came across Mark Marriott, Hans Weston, Tracey Kearns. These are photographers with a body of work and who exhibit regularly. 

By all accounts Wellington has a number of  good active art photographers, non-profit galleries,  some small artist-run spaces and a photographic dealer gallery.  The  art photographic scene appears  to be lively, the work interesting, with much of it is  project based.  There are more reflections on the Wellington photographic scene  here.

An example  of a project based  body of work  is the  recent book by the poet /photographer Mary Macpherson.  Old New World, consists  of  her photographs made over seven years  about the changes in New Zealand society as seen in the small regional/rural towns throughout the country.   The narrative is one of a shift from a traditional New Zealand, to places of prosperity and development that look very different to the 1960s and 70s. Peter Ireland interpreted the work "as a melancholy lament for the steady disappearance of the New Zealand of her childhood and youth, especially since the economic “reforms” of the 1980s." 

Maybe not.  There  is a section that deals with places that have been changed or transformed through development. Ireland says that:

The road trip is a bit of a guy thing, and, formally, her imagery then tended to echo the style pioneered here by Robin Morrison and furthered by other male photographers such as John McDermott and Derek Henderson [ie., The Terrible Boredom of Paradise]

However, the  photographic  works that Macpherson says that she thought about before making her Old New World photographs  were Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places (for his photographing of everyday streets and buildings with tremendous formal sophistication)  Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects (his restrained, yet socially charged images) and Walker Evan’s photographs of buildings.

Fleurieuscapes exhibition

My forthcoming exhibition  at Magpie Springs  in January 2016. It is the first step in the Fleurieuscape project and is a sampler,  as there are many more images in the project. Some of the images in the exhibition can  be seen on my website.

The project is premised on  photographs having an almost innate seriality: their sense is more easily accessed in the company of others; not just other photographs in a  show, but also  by other photographs by the same photographer.   In our contemporary digital world, with its networked technologies,   seriality is reworked as re-blog with the  image being re-configured and modified as they proliferate across the web.  

The Fleurieuscapes exhibition starts to  explore the regional land/urbanscape of the Fleurieu Peninsula in the contemporary world of a borderless global capitalism,  with its society of the spectacle. The regional is where we live amidst the commodity structure of a capitalism that transforms things into ghostlike appearances of themselves.

The project is a representation of the sensuous particulars of the Fleurieu Peninsula as a place to be in, rather than as a tourist destination or a wilderness. It is a landscape that has been largely shaped by human beings who cleared the land for sheep and dairy farming. The aboriginal presence prior to the white settlement has been more or less obliterated. Their presence is marked by absence and memory.  

photographing in Wellington

Suzanne and I spent a week in the lower part of the North Island of New Zealand. This included Wellington,  Tongariro National Park,  parts of the the Waikato district and New Plymouth. It was a holiday built around us walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.  

 I was able to do some photography in and around Wellington as well as the standard tourist snaps of  the Tongariro National Park.  The picture below was made from our  room at  the Travel Lodge,  which was where we were staying whilst in Wellington:

Due to the short time we had in New Zealand,  I  mainly photographed through  the windows of the hotel  and when I was walking the streets in the early morning and in the early evening. Walking the city  was limited by being on holiday but I was able to build on my previous visit. 

Wellington is a very visual city and I enjoy walking  it and exploring it's nooks and crannies.These  allow me to see beyond the obvious and to find things that are hidden away amongst the ever changing shade and light.  

Fleurieuscapes: out take #1

This image is an outtake from the 15 images that have been selected for my  forthcoming Fleuriescapes exhibition  at  the Magpie Springs Gallery in 2016.  Apart from me nobody thought much of  this particular  image:

The  digital files (ie., scanned 5x4 and medium format negatives)  for the exhibition are with  Atkins Pro Lab  and I will check the small test prints  when I return from  my  New Zealand in the second week of December.  The exhibition, which  will be  in January/February  2016,  is from a  body of work that has been made  over the several years that we have been coming to Victor Harbor as  weekenders, and then more recently,  from when we started to live on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula early in 2015.

in the studio

A new studio camera:

It is a Sinar F2, which I purchased from Alex Gard in Hobart,  Tasmania. It  came  with a Rodenstock 150m  Sironar-N lens  plus a Schneider-Kreuznack Super Angulon 75m lens and  a wide angle bellows.  Though the camera doesn't look  that great,  it is perfectly functional,  and  it will do the  simple studio work that I have planned. I have no plans to  take it out into the field as its  sole use is as a studio camera.

It's my studio camera  now, because  the  Schneider 300m Symmar lens which  had been  the  Sinar P 8x10  has  gone  to the Cambo  8x10 for the silo project to give me the  additional image circle to correct the movement problems that I am having with the  240 Symmar. The latter's image circle is okay for landscape but not  so for silo architecture.  That means that I currently  have no lens  to use with the Sinar P.   

The  Sinar F2  is  an economical, and simple  start into the Sinar system.   'System'  here means that  the  camera can be  later converted into a Sinar p2, and if it does, then, then the components of the Sinar f2 can continue to be used as practical accessories within the Sinar modular system.

olive tree

This picture was made in a grove of olive trees in the eastern Adelaide parklands adjacent to Victoria Park.  This grove of  olives, was planted in the 1870s,  is connected to early colonial horticulture,  is considered to be a part of Adelaide's history and  is of historical significance.  

I recall that I had a couple of hours   to fill in for an appointment at the optician so I wandered around the grove  with a hand held medium format camera. The pictures were of the trunks that were close to  the base of the olive tree,  and I recall having to wait between  the various exposures  for  the patchy clouds  to cover the sun.

It was largely a scoping exercise as I was planning on returning at a latter  stage to reshoot with a tripod that was able to open out flat on the ground. I have yet to return. It's often the way. 

at Magpie Springs

This outtake from a photoshoot at Magpie Springs  in early autumn 2015  highlights how the little details  on the land that are usually overlooked can make a subject for a photograph. It is a photo of natural decay that is outside  the 18th and 19th century tradition of English rustic landscape painting, which in Australia, would become paintings of rural Australia featuring farmland, country lanes and river scenes. 

Rustic landscapes do not depict a famous spot, view or monument; rather their intention  is to represent the countryside and rural life. They do so in an idealising manner. It's an ideal landscape  exempted in the pictures of wineries, food and colonial architecture designed in a picturesque setting for  the tourist with taste who  is able to view, and describe  the land in terms of pictures.  

These would be pastoral landscapes as they both celebrate the dominion of mankind over nature and the scenes depicted  are peaceful, often depicting ripe harvests, lovely gardens, manicured lawns with broad vistas, and fattened livestock. The settlers  has developed and tamed the landscape – it yields the necessities we need to live, as well as beauty and safety. 

7.25 am

Yet another picture from Halls Creek Rd, Waitinga, which is located in  the southern Fleurieu Peninsula,  South Australia:

This one was even more planned than the other pictures that I made on Halls Creek Rd:---the time was down to the minute in order to ensure that the early late autumn morning light fell across  the twin trunks of the eucalypt.  Without that early morning light the picture would have been dull and flat. I would have walked past the scene. 

tree object

Another picture from along Halls Creek Rd, Waitpinga, South Australia

 I was reminded of this picture after I 'd seen  Ed Douglas's great Connections 2 Images and Objects exhibition at the Hahndorf Academy. The pictures were made with a large format (5x4) camera and they consisted of close ups of logs in black and white. The prints were pigments prints.   

I have made close-ups of  logs and wood--mostly in the Adelaide parklands-- in  a similar fashion, but I've not done this in the studio  with a large format camera.  Sourcing the material  to bring into the studio  to photograph has been my main problem.