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.
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.
Halls Creek Rd is a part of the Heysen Trail. It runs not south and and it is where I often walk in the evening with the standard poodles. It offers protection from the strong, southern coastal winds and it has lovely afternoon light.
This picture was made in the late winter. There are fields where sheep and cattle graze on the western and eastern sides of the road. This, in effect, is a strip of roadside vegetation between farmland. A lot of the spaces on the Fleurieu Peninsula are like this. Most of the land has acquired capital value and has become a commodity. There is no Arcadian natural simplicity that stands in opposition to, and a compensation for, urban life in the postmodern city here. It is the landscape of white settlement.
It all looks quite different in late spring as the green grass has dried and it has become a golden brown. It would be a different photo in summer. Late spring, however, is not a good time to walk along back country roads, such as this one with the standard poodles. The dried grass seeds along the side of the road become caught up in the poodle's woolly coats and they are very difficult to get out. Miss one and they spiral their way into the body within 24 hours.
This picture of porous limestone rocks was made at Venus Bay on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia in 2013. It is just south of Streaky Bay. We were on a weeks holiday there with Heather Petty. Whilst there I avoided photographjng the panoramic landscape views of the cliffs and the Great Australian Bight and focused on the details which fascinated me.
It had been many years since we had last been there, and I'd never forgotten this part of the Eyre Peninsula. Yanerbie, with its massive white sand dunes that extend up to 4.5 km inland from the coast, was firmly planted in my memory, and it is a favourite photographic location of mine for photographing landscapes in South Australia. Landscape, currently has an inferior status in the contemporary visual arts. It's not a fashionable subject in the art institution.
The picture was made on the headland of Venus Bay in the late afternoon along the western part of the South Head Walking Trail which offers views of the eastern end of the Great Australian Bight. The small settlement of mostly fisherman style shacks that hug the coastline of the bay, borders the headline, and the trail around it offered an interesting early morning walk for the poodles.
This photo is from an early morning photo shoot at Hayborough, Victor Harbor in South Australia. It is looking west to Granite Island. Rosetta Head, or The Bluff, is in the background.
I've been mulling over where to next after the Edgelands exhibition at Manning Clark House in Canberra in November 2014. What project do I pick up and start to work on? Something that is different from the topographical approach of Edgelands.
I thought that a modest exhibition of abstractions would be an easy step as I can select the images from the archives. They'd be a mixture of colour and black and white and they would include abstractions from the urban and the natural environment. I'm not sure where the exhibition would be at this stage---probably in Adelaide and possibly at the Light Gallery in late 2015.
Abstractions are a bit passé these days ---retro probably, given the current emphasis on street photography. Or its a niche, even though abstraction has been intrinsic to photography. On the other hand, there is the retrospectivity of contemporary art that is nostalgic for, or repurposes, Modernist art. We could do without modernism's main themes: the transcendental, the contemplative and the timeless.
I made some pictures in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens using tranny film (Fuji Velvia) earlier in the year. It was part of the Atkins Technicolour's 2014 Summer School Film Challenge. I was only able to attend the film challenge workshop due to other commitments.
It was a 40-45 degree day in high summer and we were to make our photos between 9.30am --12.30 pm. The roll was processed by Atkins and we then selected one picture from the shoot. This was then scanned by Atkins, lightly post-processed by the photographer, then printed by Atkins for an upcoming exhibition.
My pictures of bamboo strands in the Botanic Gardens was hit and miss, and some of the pictures were badly underexposed. I've just scanned the two rolls that I exposed back then. I've quickly converted one of the badly underexposed pictures to black and white using Silver Efex Pro 2 to see if it is possible to save them:
This picture of leaf litter was next to a strand of bamboo under some trees that provided some deep, open shade and this allowed me to avoid the summer glare. I gathered bits and pieces of leaf litter and some colourful flowers to form a "still life".
What is forming is one of black and white landscapes and abstractions of rocks from the Fleurieu Peninsula around Victor Harbor and some landscapes from Kangaroo Island
This would be a mixture of medium and large format work. I already have about six or so printed and framed. That's a good start.
Maybe some muted 5x4 colour of rocks--high tone--- as well, as these would be mostly great.
I don't do portraits very often because I am not very good at them.
I also struggle with the lighting. I've been using natural lighting from a window, but I find that it is too harsh and contrasty. I don't really have the studio equipment to do diffuse the lighting; or increase the lighting from above.