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.  

The landscape of the region has a history of white settlement and agriculture that has its roots in the British imperial power,  conquest of aboriginal people,  appropriation of their  land by settlers, colonisation and the clearing of the bush. It also embodies  layers of memories for those who grew up on Eyre Peninsula and whose roots are still there.  Often, they return home only to leave again for the city. 

Whilst photographing there I  became aware that the conventional idea of landscape as a good view of the country and that art was what happened to that landscape when it was  translated into a photographic image was misleading. Landscape is the raw material waiting to be processed by the artist, as it were.

However,  what I was doing was a bit different  to this.  The land was the raw material and that my perceptual process converted land into landscape  (a particular view) before I even started  to make a photo. I was  marking off  one particular tract of land through an imaginary frame as more interesting,  or aesthetically superior,  to the  neighbouring tracts of land; then constructing a hierarchal arrangement of components within a simple view. Without the frame and the hierarchal arrangement of components I would have a shapeless gathering of features. 

Then I set up the camera,  look through its  viewfinder or ground glass , and adjust what I see to  certain conventional/aesthetic  ideas about the landscape has been constructed in the history of western European art or in contemporary landscape photography.  

 So the process is  more one of land into landscape, then landscape into art. The land has been arranged into a picture  by the photographer before it is pictured as an image with a camera.