trip to Melbourne

We  leave Adelaide for Melbourne tomorrow morning.  We are staying  at Safety Beach  on the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne with my sister Karen.  Jyl, my other sister,  will  be driving down  from Canberra. It's a family reunion of sorts---my birthday.   Ari, our 14 year standard poodle, will travel with us. We will be away from Adelaide for around 11 days. 

It's a holiday and a photo trip. Whilst Suzanne stays with friends in Geelong  for  several days  I will be photographing in the city  of Melbourne, picking up from where I left off when I was exploring Richmond in 2015: 
With a bit of luck  I'll may even  be able to do  some  large format photography in a topographical style  with Stuart Murdoch,  after he finishes teaching for the day at the Northern College of the Arts and Technology.   Weather permitting,  of course. 

We return to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road and then the Coorong National Park. We have  planned to spend a  couple of days in the Ottway's so that I can explore the bush around Wye River  and Separation Creek, where the recent Victorian bush fires occurred. Then we have a couple of days  in the Coorong on the way back to Adelaide so that I can attempt to photograph the landscape. 

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.

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. 

along Halls Creek Rd, Waitinga

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. 

photographing at Venus Bay, Eyre Peninsula

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.  

at Hayborough, Victor Harbor

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. 


This was made  in  autumn  in 2015. Autumn is a good time to photograph  along the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, since the weather is more stable and predictable. The weather during spring is all over the place. 

We had just shifted from living in the CBD  of Adelaide to the coast  at Victor Harbor,   and I was looking  to start work on  the Fleurieu Peninsula  region as a place in which we belonged. 

abstractions: an exhibition?

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 transcendentalthe contemplative and the timeless.  

in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

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".   

next exhibition project

I'm starting to think of my  next exhibition project now that the project for the  Dark exhibition at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale  2013 is  over. 

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.  

a portrait

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.