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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

2018 FIELD STUDIES: CAMERA OBSCURA FERRY PORTHOLE – Bass Straight waves over the Spirit of Tasmania

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Our 2018 Field Studies submission of 100 artworks

 

As an important end of year ritual, we have once again prepared our submission to the ‘FIELD STUDIES INTERNATIONAL’ collaborative mail art project organised by David Dellafiora. Artists from around the world contribute to this project by mailing to David 100 artworks of any process and printed media made to A5 size. He then works with a team to collate all the submissions and assemble 100 copies of the collaborative book. After each participant receives one of these books, a number are then sold to private and institutional collectors to fund the project. We have contributed to the Field Studies for the last 10 years. Some links to the previous submissions are provided at the end of this post.

 

Here’s the story of our 2018 Field Studies report…

 

In 2000, we began a series of site-specific camera obscura projects that is a continuing body of work… This year we made two attempts to construct a cabin camera obscura. The second attempt proved more successful and so in this blog we present this recent work – Through a porthole in 3-5metre seas on the The Spirit of Tasmania.

 

The Spirit of Tasmania

 

On the morning of the 3rd of November we boarded the Spirit of Tasmania and checked in to our cabin for the nine-hour day crossing. We had booked months earlier and had requested a porthole cabin with the idea of making a camera obscura.

Earlier in 2018 we had tried unsuccessfully to make camera obscura images on an overnight crossing figuring that by the time we boarded the ship we would have a brief period of sunlight – alas, that would not be the case it was dark by the time we had boarded and checked into our cabin. This second time we worked it differently with a day crossing and a porthole cabin… we then prepared for a full day of camera obscura work.

You can imagine our excitement to find that our cabin was in the middle at the front of the boat with a view over the flagpole on the prow of the ferry to the sea beyond. So we set to work with a mini camera obscura tool kit had been prepared for the preparation of the darkroom:

  • A quantity of heavy-duty black garbage bags
  • Gaffa tape
  • Scissors

 

A camera obscura tool kit

 

Vicky documented Doug as he negotiated the space beyond the bunks to tape the black bags over the window. Progressively the room got darker and glimpses of the features outside our little cabin imaged themselves on the walls of the cabin. One problem was the darkening down of the central image area caused by depth of the room and a mirror on the reverse of the door. We decided that to create an observable image we needed re-purposed two white doona covers as a screen by taping them to the ceiling and walls with the gaffa tape. To recreate the theatrical space of the cabin camera obscura, we combined a series of images of the cabin walls and the screen at different stages of the journey. We also found our humble Olympus Pen camera set at ISO25,000 the best option as it fitted the small space and enabled hand-held exposures.

 

 

The Spirit of Tasmania left Devonport port and headed out into Bass Straight. For us this was a challenging crossing as there were strong westerly winds and huge 3-5 metre waves for most of the day. It wasn’t long before we began to experience the ‘bang’ and ‘splash’ of waves over our porthole… we were on one of the upper decks – deck 8!!! Kwells (anti-seasickness pills) were taken and to take our minds off the thump and roll we got active documenting the CO crossing.

Two composite images were constructed from our work that day that we entitled Through a porthole in 3-5 metre seas on the The Spirit of Tasmania. The first is a panorama that shows Vicky on her bunk looking at the projected camera obscura image. On the right-hand side the shadow of the camera held aloft is imaged. The final panorama is made of 4 images.

 

Vicky observing the panorama camera obscura image

 

The second image is a triptych of the projected image on the screen showing a series of three photographs made by Vicky as the boat rocked with the centre image documenting a whiteout as a wave crashes on the window.

 

Camera obscura: a 3-5 metre wave crashes against our porthole (inverted)

Camera obscura: a 3-5 metre wave crashes against our porthole

 

We left the camera obscura setup until we docked. Midway across Bass Straight the images described above we assembled and optimised as the ‘bang’ and ‘whoosh’ of the waves on the boat continued incessantly. At one stage we ventured out to see how those brave souls in the public areas of the ferry were managing… they all looked pretty green–some not well at all, and many finding any horizontal space they could to find some comfort.

When the Spirit docked we dismantled the CO and disembarked, glad to be on terra firma again.

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To see a post about the FIELD STUDIES INTERNATIONAL and other of our Field Studies submissions

About David Dellafiora and  Field Studies International

https://wotwedid.com/2013/01/05/field-study-international-our-contribution/

 

Our 2016 Field Studies International submission

https://wotwedid.com/2017/01/17/field-studies-international-2016-our-contribution/

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THE HIDDEN ART OF DRAWING – REVEALED: JADA 2018

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Artists fill notebooks with drawings using a range of mark-making methods from burnt sticks (charcoal), lead and coloured pencils to ink pens and colour washes. These can be renderings that replicate the subject in ways that a camera might. They can be of details and juxtapositions of elements. Or they can be quick-made glimpses full of emotion and movement that come not so much from the subject itself but rather from the artist’s response to the inspiration created by what they witness.

Later in the artmaking process the artist retrieves these references and in the studio space with the grander media of canvas, metal or expanses of paper the drawing’s trace is carefully made and through the application of pigments applied by brush and palette knife or engraved, etched, inked and pressed. Here a ‘real’ artwork is made. Yet, underneath the final artwork the reference drawing resides – hidden.

 

The secret hidden ‘art’ of the artist’s drawing has for 30 years been the focus of the biennial Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA) at the Grafton Regional Gallery (GRG). In this award the drawing is revered not as an aide-mémoire for the artist’s later work but rather as the product of a deliberate creative and expressive artmaking activity.

 

The gallery has as it’s rationale for JADA and the GRG Drawing Collection the following statements:

The award seeks to encourage and promote innovation and excellence and plays a vital role in fostering Australian drawing practice.

The … collection exemplifies the developments and changing parameters of contemporary drawing since 1988. The collection explores the way that drawing resonates as a contemporary medium, demonstrating the relevance and strength of drawing. Works in the collection offer a varied and extensive overview of drawing ranging from highly resolved articulate works to spontaneous expressive works that are mostly retained on the conventional support of paper.

… the collection has attractively developed through the tastes, opinions and approaches of the various judges into a collection that is compelling, thought provoking, innovative, exuberant, and diverse.

 

JADA 2018 Grafton Regional Gallery installation

For those interested in artists in their practice of drawing a visit to the GRG will reveal all. In 2018 fifty-five artworks were selected from 498 entries by a pre-selection panel of suitably qualified persons. The selection of the major JADA award as well as acquisitions for the gallery’s drawing collection were adjudicated by Anne Ryan, Curator of Drawing, Prints and Watercolours from the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

 

What is surprising in the JADA selection is the way in which the techniques and media of drawing the can lead to such a diverse and stimulating variety of artworks. There are works that:

  • Emulate photographs in their fine detail and tonal rendition
  • Are exquisite in the draughtsmanship expressed
  • Show the artist’s use of the drawing to ‘find the edge’ and give shape and form to the subject
  • The emergent use of computer software, digital output, and digital media animation screen presented time-based artworks
  • Express the textural nature of the drawing media on the receiving surface
  • The passing of time in a stilled framed work
  • Explore caricatures
  • Play with simple gestural lines and equally simple ideas

The winner of the $30k 2018 JADA award was Todd Fuller, a Sydney based artist with his work titled Ode to Clarence as described in the Gallery’s website as: a hand drawn and painted animation, created during a residency at Grafton Regional Art Gallery.

The work deals with the current issues in Grafton associated with the building of a new bridge connecting the city with the highway. Through a digitally presented narrative relating to the disruption to the community caused by the terraforming, street changes and house demolitions caused by the bridge building. The work is created as a continuous drawing in parts.

 

 

Some may question how this work is classified as a ‘drawing’ as we usually encounter a drawing as a static artwork in a notebook, on paper or in a frame. As such time-based digital media presentations and other such works present a challenge to the traditional paradigm. These digital media ‘drawings’ may be documentation of drawing projects or of performances commenting on the concept of drawing. As we know there is a significant history of animated drawings presented as moving picture films. It should also be acknowledged that documentation by video might also make visible a drawing work in transformation. Though it might be asked how do these works ‘fit’ with the term ‘drawing’? And when does a drawing cease being a ‘drawing’ and become a work in the discipline of animation or digital media?

Interestingly Fuller’s drawing work uses a technique similar to that used by the artist Blu in his famous street graffiti video documentary MUTO. Blu describes his work as:a seven minute animated mural.

Thoughts such as these will no doubt occupy the minds of many visitors to the JADA exhibition as it travels around the eastern seaboard over the next two years. Whatever the outcome for such thoughts ultimately JADA has provided an important biennial review and space for critical commentary and reflection on the discipline and has stimulated this enquiry. The award also reveals and makes visible the work of artists, it shares their stories and ideas through the discipline of drawing – perhaps the oldest of all human creative endeavours.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

With thanks to Dr Cooper for editorial support

 

JADA 2018 Grafton Regional Gallery installation

 

FOOTNOTE:

Other works acquired for the Grafton Regional Gallery Collection with their $10k allocation are:

  • David Fairbairn Portrait of T.J.K No 1, 
  • Kedal Gear Haze, 
  • Nicci Haynes Drawing Dancing (an animation),
  • Noel McKenna Silent Assassin and
  • Claire Primrose Assembled Landscape 3.

 

An illustrated catalogue of the JADA entries can be downloaded here: 2018_JADA_Finalists_Catalogue

Apart from the Gallery exhibition in late 2018 the JADA will tour regional galleries over the next two years to the following venues; Manning Regional Gallery, Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery, Griffith Regional Art Gallery, Latrobe Regional Gallery and the Tamworth Regional Gallery.

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Text ©2018 Doug Spowart  Photographs of gallery ©2018 Doug Spowart. Copyright of artworks is retained by the artist
Many artworks have been photographed to show the nature of the framing and matting of the work.

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Slowing time in the temple, the darkroom and in the gallery

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KEIKO GOTO’s Zen in 35mm

Tacit Art Galleries 7 November – 2 December, 2018

 

In the contemporary society all aspects of life are on hyper speed, every human endeavour is intensified and condensed into sound bites, vision-bites, 3D, in-the-moment, hyper-experiential consumeristic bliss. In this space the photographs by Keiko Goto are a complete anathema. Goto’s photographs don’t shout at the viewer, they don’t profess to demand a political viewpoint and they don’t leave us with demands for us to feel concerned or ambivalent for the subjects in the pictures.

 

Tacit Gallery installation: Zen in 35mm

 

Keiko Goto’s photographs are viewed in the context of a white walled gallery on entering the room they appear as small darkly toned windows. When approaching the photographs, perhaps with knowledge of the accompanying artist’s statement and the eloquent catalogue essay by Kerrilee Ninnis, an enveloping quietness descends, and a story is revealed in a sequence of low key black and white photographs.

 

 

Embraced by Soft Spring Light

 

The exhibition is entitled Zen in 35mm and presents a series of vignettes, each a moment in the life of a Japanese monk in the Kichijyoji temple in Tokyo. The view that each photograph shows is from a distanced viewpoint – she is a trusted observer in his space. Her photographs are nearly all quite dark with a spotlight delineating, by chiaroscuro the shape of the monk’s form, a head or a profile, from the dark ground. Other images are of the temple place and the monk’s sparse accoutrements.

Silent Chanting

 

Goto is in tune with with the ways of Zen through her Japanese cultural background and the experience that comes from her attendance at the temple over many years to learn and practice calligraphy.

All photographs are made on film and carefully printed by the author in gelatine silver fibre paper. Some images have been printed using enlarged negatives on platinum-palladium hand-coated paper with Goto’s distinctive calligraphic styled brush strokes. Adding perhaps to the following of traditions in photography is the fact that she uses a Leica IIIb camera from the 1930s.

 

Ouryouki

 

The monk concentrates on his devotion and to the rituals of his observance of Buddhism. Goto observes the scene silently waiting to receive the distilled moment. Later in the darkroom the film is process in strict accordance with a codified ritual. Quiet meditations continue in the stillness of the safelight-illuminated darkroom. The simple rhythm of the rocking tray and the beauty is revealed as the image develops in the tray. In many ways the use of analogue capture and printmaking could have some sympatico – a mutual commonality with the performance and commitment of Zen philosophy.

 

Back in the gallery the presentation reflects Goto’s experience. It is as if the gestural movement of the brush on paper has been transformed into these walls – each image a monochrome fragment becomes a calligraphy pictogram. Time is slowed in viewing these images and in this reflective quietness the photographs reveal the monk’s story through Keiko Goto’s own meditative work – like visualised haiku poems…

 

In the darkness – light

A head bowed, a murmur inside

Photographer’s eye

 

Doug Spowart

December 27, 2018

 

Perfect Garden

Meditation 4

Meditation 3

Meditation 1

Lustrous Robe

 

 

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Written by Cooper+Spowart

December 28, 2018 at 4:31 pm

The man who photographed every house in Australia

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BACK STORY on the FRANK & EUNICE CORLEY HOUSE PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION

in the State Library of Queensland and the exhibition HOME: a suburban obsession

 

Imagery Gallery – with my mother and business partner Ruby Spowart

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From 1980 to 1995 I was co-director, with my mother Ruby, of Imagery (photography) Gallery (1). The gallery operated in 3 locations in South Brisbane two of them being on the corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets. Although our main business activity was a photographic gallery and workshop we were also suppliers for specialised equipment for photographers – one of them was the famous Leica 35mm camera. As a Leica user myself since the early 1970s my special knowledge of this equipment was not so much from the point of view of a salesperson but rather as a user of the full range of Leica cameras, projectors, enlargers, binoculars and accessories in my documentary and art photography practice.

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In the late 1980s or early 1990s an elderly man visited the gallery and exhibited an interest in Leicas. He mentioned that has had been a professional photographer and that he used the older screw mount Leica gear. Initially I saw him as a potential purchaser, though in time and after many visits I realised that this was not to be the case. His name was Frank Corley and I found him to be a storyteller. With each visit came my understanding that he enjoyed the opportunity to talk with someone interested in his life.

Frank lived in Annerley and dined every evening at Sizzlers – he called it “Zizzlers”. He was a dapper man with a hat and very well dressed. His visits to the gallery were easily accomplished by train as the gallery was situated just over the road from the South Brisbane Railway Station.

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Frank’s camera

At one stage in 1994 Frank indicated that he had some Leica equipment he wanted to sell and invited me to his home. I went with my partner Victoria Cooper to his Annerley home. On entering the house one came in contact with the enormity of Frank and his wife’s life as in every room there was ‘stuff’. His partner in his business his wife Eunice had passed away by this time. Everything had a story – a watercolour painting of Central Australia by Ewald Namatjira (if I remember correctly), Frank recounted was purchased by him when he was photographing homes in Alice Springs. He bought the painting from the artist who presented work for sale at the front gate of the caravan park from which Frank was operating his business. We went from room to room looking for the items he wanted to sell which finally amounted to some very out-dated photographic paper, an enlarging easel and an old Leica Focomat enlarger.

We did a tour of the back yard in which were parked several vehicles. One was the now famous Cadillac (though not pink in colour as often described), another was a little like a Bedford delivery van. We went inside and in the back of the vehicle was a compact darkroom, enlargers, trays, and rolls of processed film in special cardboard gridded boxes. It was cramped but functional – later I was to discover that Eunice was the darkroom operator. I had a lot of respect for that lady and her workspace.

In a lean-to shed at the back of the property Frank reached into a large cardboard box and pulled out a handful of black and white prints of houses. He had already told me of his Pan American Home Photographic Company business of photographing houses from the Cadillac (and other vehicles) as he drove down the street steering the car with his knees taking photos. These photographs were subsequently processed and printed and salesmen, sometime Frank himself, would then call back at the houses and sell prints that could be mounted on cards or calendars. The company brand phrase was From Our Home to Your Home.

I looked around and saw maybe 8-10 boxes the size of which would have been 80cmx60cmx60cm and each box was crammed full of prints. I asked how did he end up with so many photographs? His answer was that at the time the sales tax on photographic materials was 27.5% and as he did not have a sales tax exemption number for his business he paid tax when he bought film and photo paper. At the end of each financial year the value of the tax on the unsold photographs could be claimed as a sales tax credit. The volume of work he was doing that was unsold amounted to a reasonable credit but the prints needed to be retained along with other taxation documents for many years. These photographs came from a time 20-25 years earlier and had not been disposed.

 

Some Corley house photographs    Source: State Library of Queensland

I reached into one of the boxes and pulled out a bundle of photos. What I saw were very ‘straight’ photos of houses all with very similar framing, usually recorded almost as plan elevations. The houses look dated to perhaps 20-30 earlier and I sensed that I was holding in my hands a documentary photography history record. I asked Frank what would happen to these photographs when he moved on… his answer was that they’d probably be sent to a silver recovery plant or dumped. Ohhh! I thought. Before leaving Frank that day he posed for a couple of portrait photos with his trusty Leica IIIg.

Frank Corley circa 1994

At this time in my photodocumentary practice I had undertaken re-photography projects where early photographer’s pictures were relocated and re-imaged as a way of showing the passing of time. My own history making photographs and also from building my own collection of photographs from the beginnings of the invention of photography 150 years earlier meant that to me these images were special and needed preserving. I couldn’t let them be lost, not only because they represented Frank’s life work, but also for their historical value.

On leaving Frank’s home I worked through some ideas with Vicky as to what could happen with Frank’s photographs. At the time I was a valuer for the Australian Government’s Taxation Incentives for the Arts a program where the value of donations to cultural institutions could be used as a tax credit for the donor. I had been involved in valuations for the State Library of Queensland so I made contact with some of the people I knew there. I must have sounded convincing, as there was interest in the work from SLQ Field Officer Niles Elvery. I contacted Frank who said that he would be happy to donate the photographs to the Library and in due course I travelled in a Library station wagon driven by Niles back to Frank’s place.

I’m not sure how we fitted the boxes into the station wagon but I remember it being a tight fit. Frank signed a document that Niles had brought with him and we travelled back to the Library. We reckoned that there were around 12,000 photographs.

A few months later I heard via Frank’s solicitor that he had died and that any items that Imagery Gallery was holding of his pending sale needed to be returned. I was somewhat taken by Frank’s passing and as he seemed to be without friends or family around I thought it appropriate that I write an obituary which I published in a journal I edited called PHOTO.Graphy, ISSN 1038-4332 – The Christmas edition, v. 6, 1995. It reads:

FRANK CORLEY: Obituary

Unknown to most of us Frank Corley, a travelling photographer passed away on October 19, 1995. I suppose we all die eventually and our life’s work, the photographs we make are left to the destinies of those who possess them. In a life full of entrepreneurial activities Frank owned and managed a transport business, caravan parks and a lolly shop. A fascination for photography led to the formation of Pan American Studios. Street photography and in particular photographing houses was his big passion.

I call him the man who photographed every house in Australia because if you ever spoke with him about it he made you believe that he did. Frank Corley won’t be missed by many but his legacy ~ his photographs, will live on in private family archives but most significantly through the donation of around 12,000 prints of Queensland homes presented to the John Oxley Library, Brisbane in June this year. This fragment of Frank’s work would have been lost except for a fluke of meeting with me and his generosity.

I just wish there could have been more time to record the experiences that he so happily shared with me.

Doug Spowart   6/11/95

 

The years went by and memory of Frank and his donation were for me a faded memory. In 2015 I was granted a Siganto Foundation Artists’ Book Research Fellowship at the SLQ. One day I met a volunteer called John Wilson at the library and I found out that he had been working for years in trying to unlock the Corley code for the photographs, what town – what street? We spoke about his method of working which was hindered by limited information available in the bundles of prints and scant markings on the prints. John had street directories from Queensland towns which he had identified street names and had himself been out on the road looking to confirm hunches.

Soon after this meeting I met Denis Peel and became aware of the work that the Annerley-Stephens History Group had done in identifying many of Corley’s home photographs from the Fairfield, Annerley, Yeronga, Yeerongpilly, Tennyson and Moorooka areas. As a volunteer group they held meetings, provided teams and individuals with Corley photos who then went out looking to identify houses. A significant Phase One report was generated by the group in 2015. Additional research was subsequently prepared. By June 2016 they reported that they had located over 3000 matching houses. I visited one of their meetings and was impressed by the energy of the volunteers. In 2017 The Annerley-Stephens History Group were awarded the John Oxley Library Community History Award for their continued and highly successful community project. The activities of the group were supported by the State Library through access to the photographs and later aided by the digitisation of the collection that has only recently been completed.

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SLQ Home Website Banner

With the growing interest in the Corley Collection and the recognition of its value as an extensive and unique record of Queensland houses and suburbs the SLQ scheduled the planning and preparation of the exhibition which they have entitled – Home: a suburban obsession. As the facilitator of the donation and my knowledge of Frank and his work I have assisted Chenoa Pettrup and Adam Jefford from the Asia Pacific Design Library wherever possible in the preparations for this show. As an artist/photographer and researcher I appreciate the efforts by the exhibition coordinators to involve appropriately talented and skilled personnel to give this event the opportunity to capture community interest. Special commissions for inclusion in the show include Ian Strange‘s large-scale charcoal rendition of a Queensland home, an  installation by Queensland artist/designer Jennifer Marchant and an immersive Brisbane virtual reality streetscape by [f]FLAT. Assembled in the exhibition space were artists’ books, books, catalogues and photographs from the SLQ collections that highlighted the idea of ‘home’ and included Ed Ruscha, Bernd and Hilla Becher and Australian photographer John Gollings and his Gold Coast works. Alan Scurr, a Leica camera collector collector from Toowoomba loaned camera items for a display of the camera equipment that Frank used.

 

Entry to the exhibition Home: a suburban obsession

Entry to the exhibition Home: a suburban obsession

 

The Home: a suburban obsession offers many significant opportunities:

(1) It reveals how suburban architecture looked 40 or so years ago,

(2) It provides an opportunity for contemporary Queenslanders to connect with their homes of the era,

(3) The historical nature of the photographs will be a provocative agent for nostalgia and, for some solastaligia,

(4) It enables us to appreciate unusual photographic business activities and the partnership that exists in many small photographic enterprises, and

(5) It celebrates the value of the physical photograph as a time capsule.

 

The Internet may have given us the modern invention the Google Street View but in a way the Corleys were doing it 40 years ago – the evidence is in the nearly 62,000 photographs in the collection. Though it is interesting to consider how the digital age and the Corley Explorer Webpage will provide the key to unlocking the code to enable every one of the Corley’s houses to be located and revisited anew.  The process has started and according to SLQ sources the Corley Explorer in the first few weeks has enabled a further 14% of the collection to be identified. SEE the Stories webpage HERE.

Back in Frank Corley’s shed nearly 25 years ago I could never had imagined how those boxes of house photos could provide the amazing opportunities that we are just now encountering with this exhibition and other uses yet to be discovered. But I did know one thing and that is I could not allow them to be lost. I’m sure that Frank would feel quite chuffed that his unsuccessful unsold photographs have finally found success and have made the journey from his home to a their rightful home in the history of Queensland.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

(1) LINK TO: The Imagery Gallery Archive is held in the State Library of Queensland

In the exhibition – I muse that this man was Frank looking at the interest his work has now received…

 

Various links and associated reports and reviews of the Corley Collection follow:

 

The SLQ website for the exhibition:   http://home.slq.qld.gov.au/

SLQ Home Website Banner

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Photographs of the exhibition’s opening event on December 6, 2018

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My video of the exhibition opening


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2 Special commission video projects produced, directed and edited by Shih-Yin Judy Yeh. These videos present the story of Frank and Eunice Corley and the SLQ work with the Corley Collection.

 

SLQ The Corley story Video

 

 

A video describing the SLQ’s  story about the Corley collection, includes information about the donation, conservation and investigation

 

 

A link to the Annerley-Stephens History Group’s Corley project HERE

 

An SLQ event with Denis Peel and Kate Dyson talking about the Annerley-Stephens History Group project HERE

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Frank Corley Wikipedia HERE

 

ArchitectureAu article HERE

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Brisbane News / Sydney Morning Herald Article HERE

 

 

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All photographs © Doug Spowart unless othervise credited. The copyrights in other material and website resides with their relevant copyright owners.

 

WIM de VOS – Artist, teacher, musician, mentor, brother & friend

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A portrait of Wim de Vos with his work at Studio West End

 

For Wim, by Vicky Cooper

 

In your last days we visited you….

Like the artist thinking about your next artwork…

You described your final work…

How, where, when…

You would be buried….

An acrylic case made by friends

In the bush

Up a hilly rocky track

To a hidden mountain

A stand of trees that had black bark

A particular view across a Valley

A golden sunset

A rock with the Red Fox coat of arms

Also created by a friend

 

50 years I have known you

Sometimes distant

Sometimes close

 

I danced with your groupies

In Cloudland where

You played a red Fender

Those favourite songs

Neil Young, Focus, George Harrison

Beach Boys and so may more…

 

I danced with Opa

At the Dutch Club

I loved Oma’s apple pie

The paper flowers and the needle work

The smell of pipe tobacco

The Dutch jokes

Stories of WW2

 

I remember your first exhibition

Michael Milburn

Your time in Maastricht

My sister with the two boys and soon a girl

My sister is now another beautiful story

The boys are also creating new stories

And the girl is strong and confident

The world has not limited them

 

At seminal moments

I needed inspiration and support

You were there

With Doug…

Fellow teacher, artist and family

I for 50 years

Doug for 30….

You could be at times testing…

But you were also investing

Your energy, creativity, ingenuity and knowledge

 

There are so many years of art

Toowoomba, Flying Arts, McGregor…

Then West End and Adele

A collaboration that built a strong community

 

Each of us all has personal stories

Each will be different

But all of it rich

 

Just like your studio and apartment

The walls and corners of your life

Are jam packed with collections

Of moments

Sad or cantankerous

Solitary or social

Dedicated and creative

 

But your parting words to me now echo in my everyday

That I never stop making my art…

And I now reflect that if it were not for his support

I – and perhaps many others – would not have started…..

 

It is in this legacy that you will always remain

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Wim de Vos

VALE Wim de Vos 27/5/1947-8/12/2018.

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Some images of Wim from events over the last few years…

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Wim presenting a long book at the Artists Book Brisbane Event – Griffith University Brisbane

Wim & Adele at ABBE Artists Book Conference July 2015

Wim showing the State Librarian Janette Wright his tunnel books at the Siganto Seminar 2015

 

Wim & Adele at the State Library of Qld’s Artists’ Book Fair 2015

The launch of the 'Bookplates Unbound' project with Helen Cole and Gael Phillips and others

The launch of the Bookplate collection with Anne Jolly, Helen Cole and Gael Phillips and others

A return to the ‘Band’ days at Studio West End

Farewell to ABSOE party, 23rd April 2016

A blog post about the ABSOE Studio and the NEW Studio can be found HERE

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At the NEW West End Studio – November 2016

The NEW West End Studio

Adele in the New West End Studio

Lunch is prepared at the New West End Studio

Lunch at the New West End Studio

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Wim will be back in the studio soon…

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The studio

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©Texts by Vicky Cooper . . . © All photographs by Doug Spowart

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In remembrance….

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THE QLD PHOTOBOOK CONSORTIA – SUCCESSFUL SUBMISSION National Gallery of Victoria ART BOOK FAIR 2019

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The Queensland Photobook Consortia

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Over the last few weeks we’ve put together a submission from Queensland photobook authors and self-publishers for next year’s National Gallery of Victoria ART BOOK FAIR. The Fair is a huge event attendances of 12-16,000 over the three days of the event have been recorded. The who’s who from collecting institutions, private collectors and fellow exhibitors all view, read – and sometimes purchase books…!  Apart from networking and selling or trading books the Fair has associated with it a program from the Melbourne Design Week.

To celebrate photobooks and to bring together Queensland authors, designers and self-publishers we have formed a group called THE QUEENSLAND PHOTOBOOK CONSORTIA.  Over the next week or so we will find out if our submission has been successful – In the meantime we are interested in hearing from any Queensland photobook maker that we can add to our list of contacts.

HERE IS SOME MORE INFO about the Fair and the Consortia’s submission…

WE WERE SUCCESSFUL….!   Got the news 21st of December

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BLURB FROM THE NGV

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About the Melbourne Art Book Fair

Melbourne Art Book Fair returns for its fifth year in 2019. Since the event began, the publishing and broader creative landscape has undergone many shifts. MABF 2019 asks: what is publishing now? What is encompassed by the term and how can publishing bring about positive change on multiple fronts?

Featuring diverse emerging and established local and international publishers, artists and writers, Melbourne Art Book Fair 2019 presents a four-day program of ideas, discussions and book launches at the National Gallery of Victoria. The 2019 program explores ideas around experimental and discursive publishing, challenging how we think about the publishing field. Guests ask the question: what can books do? How might the form change? How might publishing provoke and influence other creative and social phenomena such as fashion diffusion lines, capsule collections, event spaces, activist movements and community development?

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The submission is only the first stage of the process. If successful we will seek some extra participants – HERE ARE THE MAIN ANSWERS IN OUR SUBMISSION….

 

 

QUESTION: Please tell us what you do, and why:

The Queensland Photobook Consortia is a group of photobook and artists’ book makers and self-publishers from Queensland who, through their publishing projects, provide comment on contemporary issues relating to life and times, not only of their home state Queensland but also Australia and the rest of the world.

The opportunity to present Queensland photobooks within the premier event of the NGV Art Book Fair will enable this substantial group of artists to share their creativity and visual stories. It is our proposal to showcase this group of contemporary emerging and established Queensland practitioners and their latest works.

Their backgrounds are many and varied and include the following:

 

Ana Paula Estrada

ANA PAULA ESTRADA is a Mexican–Australian artist based in Brisbane. For the last seven years her art practice has focused mainly on the documentation of life stories of older Australians by combining photography, oral history, and the artist book. She is currently completing a Master of Visual Arts by research degree at the Queensland College of Art. In 2016, she self-published an artist book called Memorandum in an edition of 200, which has been recognized and exhibited broadly nationally and internationally.

http://www.anapaulaestrada.com

 

Tammy Law

TAMMY LAW documents stories that are reflective of her experiences of being a child of Chinese migrants, and the bubble of Asian/Australianness within which she lives. Her travels through Asia—mostly in Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma—and the differences between Asia and the West propel her to focus on concepts of migration, home and belonging. This book’s development and production has been supported by the celebrated Tokyo based Reminders Photography Stronghold.

http://www.tammylaw.com/

 

David Symons

DAVID SYMONS is a Brisbane based artist. The idea that the photograph sits precariously on the edge of the real and imagined is the great appeal of the medium to David. Born in Scotland, he studied photography in Western Australia in the 1980s. David has exhibited locally and nationally and has been a finalist prizes including The Olive Cotton Award and the IRIS Award. His photographic work is held in The Art Gallery of Western Australia Collection.

http://www.davidsymons.com.au/about-2/

 

Louis Lim

LOUIS LIM is a Brisbane-based photographer and photobook-maker whose work explores the diversity in human conditions, specifically those that are under-represented in mainstream media. His work has been exhibited in several Australian galleries and presented internationality.

Lim has exhibited his photobook with live bookbinding demonstration in Central Embassy Open House as part of Photo Bangkok Festival. Lim has attended the highly regarded Reminders Photography Stronghold Masterclass and is currently developing his personal photobook project in a collaboration with Beth Jackson.

http://louislzm.com/contact/

 

 

Dane Beesley

DANE BEESLEY is an Australian photographer who has created photography books, exhibited widely, and his photographs are held in public and private collections. Beesley has been described as a “leading Australian rock photojournalist” by Melbourne street press Beat Magazine. Marei Bischarn, photo editor at Rolling Stone Australia, described his work as “honesty in photos; nothing planned or fabricated – just pure energy and great times”.

http://danebeesley.com/

 

 

Victoria Reid

VICTORIA REID is a freelance photographer based in South East Queensland. She is interested in documenting the human condition and provides a voice for injustices in society. Reid is about to graduate from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, with a Bachelor of Photography (Honours) with a major in Photojournalism and Social Documentary.

https://www.victoriareidphotography.com.au/

 

Victoria Cooper

VICTORIA COOPER’s work traverses both personal and political territories in the investigation and representation of an Australian “site” and “place”. She creates visual narratives in response to, and informed by, contemporary social and environmental issues intertwined with historical, scientific and mythological insights intrinsic to each site. Her books are held in major artists’ book collections including the National Library of Australia, the State Libraries of Queensland and Victoria and Artspace Mackay.

http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/

 

Doug Spowart

DOUG SPOWART has an extensive involvement in Australian creative industries as an artist, educator, curator, commentator and reviewer. For over 25 years he has made photobooks and artists’ books. Many of these books are held in private, regional and state public galleries, national and international photography and artists’ book collections.

http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/

 

What are some of your recent titles?

 

SOME RECENT TITLES FROM MEMBERS OF THE QLD PHOTOBOOK CONSORTIA

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I was there V.I by Ana Paula Estrada

I WAS THERE V. I & II by Ana Paula Estrada consists of a two-volume artist book that tells the life stories of Kevin and Esta, two participants aged over eighty, with whom she has been collaborating. Merging the fields of documentary practice, oral history and fine arts, and influenced by visual poetry, her books explore the combination of text, image and the blank space of the page.

http://www.anapaulaestrada.com/book-preview/

 

The shadow inside by David Symonds

THE SHADOW INSIDE by David Symons is a noir photobook.  The book stylistically revisits the visual languages of the pulp noir genre and police evidence photograph of the mid 20th Century.  A low-voltage current of psychoanalytical and surrealist themes run through the pages weaving the narrative in and out the real and imagined. This is a game constantly played out in the viewers mind. For the author the mystery is where the door is between the two states.

https://tinyurl.com/ycx9tdws

 

Permission to belong by Tammy Law

PERMISSION TO BELONG by Tammy Law explores themes of migration, home and belonging through the everyday lives of refugee families from Myanmar. Living against the backdrop of decades of repressive rule and civil war, countless families live between a place of home and homelessness, belonging and unbelonging. The negotiation and renegotiation of identities is as complex as the history and future of Myanmar.

http://reminders-project.org/rps/permissiontobelongsaleen/

 

Yelseeb Enad by Dane Beesley

YELSEEB ENAD by Dane Beesley deals with the mythic place that the road occupies in the American west. It is a romanticised Kerouac/Dylanesque view of the road captured in small moments and big cars invested with meaning. There’s an honesty, a quest for truth, perhaps a naiveté in the images reminiscent of cinéma vérité that captures the adolescent wanderlust it seeks to document.

http://danebeesley.com/book/

 

… There is no end by Louis Lim and Beth Jackson

… THERE IS NO END a collaboration between Louis Lim and Beth Jackson deals with grief, loss and upheaval from two separate encounters that intertwine through the process of photobook making. The book was shortlisted in the Singapore International Photography Festival Photo Book Showcase 2018, and the 2018 Libris Award with acquisition by Artspace Mackay.

The final version of the book is in current production for release in early 2019.

http://sipf.sg/photobook/there-is-no-end/

 

liberté by Victoria Reid

LIBERTÉ by Victoria Reid is her first self-published book. This book of photographic work examines the search for sexual freedom in a society in which tightly prescriptive sexual norms prevail. This project focuses on people who create meaning in their worlds outside of what is considered ‘normative’ behaviour. Exchange of power, consent, trust, role-playing and gender identity are explored. The intention of this project is to promote dialogue around existing sexual stereotypes and stigmas.

https://tinyurl.com/y8puyzho

 

 

We’ll keep in touch to let you know how our submission got on….

AND, If you are from Queensland and have a book do get in contact with us….

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The Queensland Photobook Consortia.

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IMPRINT JOURNAL: Article on regional arts awards

with 2 comments

IMPRINT COVER Vol53 #2

 

In March this year we were approached by the Editor of IMPRINT MAGAZINE, the journal of the Print Council of Australia to write a piece about regional galleries and the national awards that they coordinate. Of particular interest to Editor Andrew Stephens was Artspace Mackay’s Libris Awards: National Artists’ Book Award, and Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery’s National Works on Paper Awards.

We were familiar with both awards events and in particular we’ve had a long connection with the Libris Awards as entrants and reviewers. In 2017 we visited the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery as viewed and exhibition of works from their awards. Many of you will also be aware of our interest in, and support of regional art so we were excited by the opportunity that the commission provided.

We set about to prepare the commentary and to add extra voices to the piece we contacted some artists who have significant participation in regional arts awards. What follows is the article with the 4 page layout and photographs followed by the text, references and acknowledgements.

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Imprint: Page 22+23

Imprint: Page 24+25

 

BEYOND THE CITY LIMITS:

Two regional art awards for artists’ books and works on paper

 

The art gallery is a place for presentation, display and the sharing of art. It is a space that orchestrates the development of cultural discourse by connecting the world of the artist with an art-interested audience including members of the public, art students, the artist’s peers, curators, critics and collectors. Big city art galleries can mount blockbuster national and international shows and also cover a diverse range of disciplines that regional galleries cannot ever hope to match. The regional gallery can however specialise in key areas of activity and collection by including in their programs discipline based national awards. These galleries also aren’t so constrained by orthodoxy and can open up the dialogue leading to more widespread changes. Through the awards they can push boundaries and help to define what is contemporary in various disciplines.

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Two noteworthy regional galleries and their specialisations are Artspace Mackay (AM) has the Libris Awards: National Artists’ Book Award (Libris) and Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (MPRG) has National Works on Paper Awards (NWOP). To ensure the currency of the entries both awards are offered biennially with a requirement that the works entered must have been completed within the preceding two years. Each gallery has a particular focus for their award.

The Libris Awards provide Artspace Mackay with: ‘an opportunity to become known as a centre for artists’ books; we develop/build meaningful relationships over many years with artists; the award attracts the latest and best works from artists in the field and introduces us to new artists; and provides us with a wonderful opportunity to acquire new artists’ books for our Art Collection by leading artists in the field’.[1]

At the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery the NWOP’s role ‘is to support and promote contemporary Australian artists working on or with paper. Works may be executed in any medium on or with paper… The paper must act as the main two or three-dimensional support of the work’.[2]

These Awards provide a testing ground for the new ideas, current aspects of technique and new/contemporary themes as well as many other art practice related opportunities. Sasha Grishin, in his ‘Judges Notes’ the 2016 Libris Awards commented that: ‘The contemporary artists book is characterised by boundless freedom’, and adds that: ‘… it has absorbed many conceptual frameworks, many art mediums and technologies and goes across the spectrum of the senses’.[3] Entries in the NWOP Awards also exhibit Grishin’s ‘boundless freedom’ as MPRG Director Jane Alexander states in the 2016 catalogue: ‘Through printing, drawing, folding, sculpting and collage, paper is at the forefront of artistic experimentation… increasingly we are seeing this practice pushed to new and exciting dimensions’.[4]

Much of an artist’s life can be isolated making it difficult to connect with a broader community of practice, which can also be fractured by physical distance and conceptual difference. Therefore artists see these awards as an opportunity to present their most recent work. They seek the recognition that comes from selection and being shown in the awards’ survey exhibitions. This acknowledgement also locates them in a review of contemporary practice specific to their discipline. Nationally respected printmaker and artist bookmaker Dianne Fogwell generously shared with us the three main reasons she entered awards: ‘1. To stay abreast of who is professionally working in my field and 2; so that my contemporaries know I am still working professionally in my field and 3; I can enter work that does not suit the gallery exhibition either through content or scale’.[5]

There is also the potential benefit of exposure, critical review and for some the financial reward of purchase or winning a major award. It should be noted that both the Libris and NWOP receive significant sponsorship and support from range of sources to make possible their awards[6]. Deanna Hitti won the 2008 Libris Award and the 2009 Books Beyond Words Award held by the East Gippsland Art Gallery. She comments that, ‘I am quite fortunate to have been the recipient of two major Australian artist book awards in consecutive years… My whole arts practice gained exposure and in a way it validated my work and presented a path to promote my work through’.[7]

The choice of appropriate judges for these awards is critical as through their decisions a continual review of the nation-wide practice of the award’s associated disciplines is carried out. The selected judges for the Libris and NWOP come from major collecting and exhibiting institutional backgrounds and are widely respected within their specific disciplines.[8] Other awards may have judges who are also acclaimed artists, art critics and teaching academics.

Before entering any awards the artist needs to consider their work in relation to the competition criteria and the judging process. In this evaluation some gritty questions tend to surface regarding how their work is to be considered by the selection committee and the awards audience. For example: How much is my art worth? Will the winner’s work need to appear comparable to the amount of prize money associated with the award? Will awards that favour the spectacular and immediately accessible works marginalise those that require time and focus? As the practice of book arts is very broad and varied, from book sculpture to fine press to zines—in rewarding a particular art form/s this could promote one form over many other worthy and incomparable works. If so this could narrow the potential for a variety of work to be accepted within the broader practice?

To address questions of diversity, the two awards discussed in this article attempt to provide opportunities to recognise different mediums and the stages of the artist’s career. Libris has in the past offered a separate award for Zines, and have always included a local artists award. This year they are featuring the altered book. Both the Libris and NWOP also include emerging artists’ awards along with a budget to acquire a variety of other works selected for the exhibition.

Another salient question for the artist to consider relates to the handling of the work and its display, particularly for unusual work, such as sculptural and installation works that are unframed. Many galleries may not have the capacity to appropriately display these works and still allow for quality public engagement. The Libris awards require that entrants include a document on how they would like work would be shown. This way the artist has to consider whether the work should be handled and how it will be placed in the gallery space.

Although an important part of an artists career awards should not define them and their creative work potential. Dianne Fogwell presents a grounded perspective on how the award should influence the artmaking process: ‘Being selected as a finalist or to be the people’s choice or winning the award or prize gives you heart as making art is a lonely thing and more so the longer you do it. Does it make a difference to the way I make my work, no, has it made a difference to who buys my work, I hope not, as it is the work that’s important in the end’.[9]

To build an archive and history of these important survey events both Libris and NWOP create records of their awards in the form of catalogues and online in accessible PDF versions.[10] Libris posted 2016 judge Sasha Grishin’s award notes[11] and an illustrated list of works.[12] NWOP has over the last two events, 2014 & 2016 published a physical catalogue and online versions as well.[13] Additionally AM and MPRG can be contacted for further information on historical records.

These archives add to the history of the award as well as a snapshot of the adjudicated contemporary practice in the disciplines at the time of the award and the value that collectors and the art market place on artworks. What may be interesting as an enhancement to any art award could be consideration for the creation of a democratic record of entry where all entries are listed in an online format to show the complete story of all artists who entered the award and their works.

CONCLUSION:

After the judgements have been made, the winners received recognition, the acquisitions completed and the remaining works returned, the exhibition may be over but the legacy of the awards lingers on. Through the initiative of the regional gallery, sponsor support and the contribution of artists, these awards create a fertile space where ongoing discourse can both challenge and shape the development of the art.

 

Prepared by Dr Victoria Cooper and Dr Doug Spowart

With thanks to: Tracey Heathwood Director Artspace Mackay and Narelle Russo MPRG Curator-Collections / Registrar.

Dr Lyn Ashby, Dianne Fogwell, Deanna Hitti, Johanna Kambourian, Dr Clyde McGill, Dr Felicity Rea.

 

[1] Correspondence received from Artspace Director Tracey Heathwood
[2] https://mprg.mornpen.vic.gov.au/Exhibitions/National-Works-on-Paper Viewed 10 April, 2018.
[3] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/205398/2016_Libris_Awards_Artspace_Mackay.pdf   Viewed 4 April, 2018
[4] Jane Alexander, 2016 NWOP Catalogue, p 3.
[5] Correspondence from Dianne Fogwell
[6] The Libris and NWOP offer significant monetary prizes: Libris—4 awards, 2 acquisitive) totalling $15,000, and the NWOP offers a major acquisitive award of $15,000. Both awards have acquisitive awards budgets – NWOP allocates a further $35,000.
[7] Correspondence from Dianna Hitti
[8] Judges for 2018 Libris: Roger Butler AM, Senior Curator Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Australia Helen Cole, former Coordinator Australian Library of Art
and the 2018 NWOP, Jane Alexander, MPRG Director;
Victoria Lynn, Director, TarraWarra Museum of Art;
Dr Kyla McFarlane, Curator of Academic Programs (Research) Ian Potter Museum of Art.
[9] Correspondence from Dianne Fogwell
[10] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/204955/2016LibrisAwards_IllustratedListofWorks.pdf  Viewed 7 April, 2018
[11] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/205398/2016_Libris_Awards_Artspace_Mackay.pdf  Viewed 7 April, 2018
[12] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/204955/2016LibrisAwards_IllustratedListofWorks.pdf  Viewed 7 April, 2018
[13] https://mprg.mornpen.vic.gov.au/Exhibitions/National-Works-on-Paper Viewed 7 April, 2018

 

 

SOME OTHER AUSTRALIAN – PRINTMAKING + ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARDS @ March 2018

Manly Artists Book Award—Bi-yearly, next 2019

https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/arts-and-culture/manly-artists-book-award

Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award—Bi-yearly, next 2019

http://www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/Community/Hazelhurst/Exhibitions/Previous-Exhibitions/2017/Hazelhurst-Art-on-Paper-Award-2017

Gippsland Print Award—Bi-yearly, next 2019

http://www.gippslandartgallery.com/prizes/gippsland-print-award/

Swan Hill Print & Drawing Acquisitive Awards—Bi-yearly, current 2018

https://gallery.swanhill.vic.gov.au/2018/03/print-drawing-finalists/

2017 Geelong Aquisitive Print Awards

http://www.geelonggallery.org.au/cms_uploads/docs/2017-geelong-acquisitive-print-awards_online.pdf

Banyule Award for Works on Paper—Hatch Contemporary Arts Space

https://www.banyule.vic.gov.au/Arts-and-Events/Banyule-Award-for-Works-on-Paper

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