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Archive for August 2013

INVITATION: OLIVE COTTON AWARD–Public Programs

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We are presenting two special presentation to compliment the 2013 Olive cotton Awards @ the Tween River Art Gallery, Murwillumbah.

A floortalk and discussion on contemporary Australian photographic portraiture based on the photographs is the award – AND – A look at the artist and social media, for making connections and making art.

SEE THE INVITATION BELOW:

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Olive Cotton Awards Public Programs

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For any extra details call the gallery on (02) 66702790.

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VOTE 1: Regional Artists for Government Election

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As Australia goes to vote we need to rally behind the artists of this country. The Centre for Regional Arts Practice has formed a faux political party and is out on the hustings alongside Tony, Clive, Kevin and Christine. It’s about time that their policy documents were made public – so here they are …

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Cover – Artist Survey #XI Democracy

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ART IS ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY

Recent democratic debate in Australian politics has been apprehended by special interest lobby groups. It is now time for artists to stand up and be vocal to capture their share of the political scene.

This policy booklet presents the Regional Artists for Government Election (R.A.G.E.) campaign and its political demands. The R.A.G.E. policies at first seem flippant and glib, however, as we have experienced in contemporary politics, the absurd can, with the right ‘spin’ and ‘media cycle’, become plausible – in fact, even highly appealing to the voters, leading to positive opinion polls and success at the ballot box.

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SUPPORT R.A.G.E. – Join the Art Revolution Today.

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POLICY DOCS-Pt1

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POLICY DOCS-Pt2

POLICY DOCS-Pt2

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Ballot Paper

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The Cooper+Spowart book Art is always the best policy, was included in the grahame galleries exhibition Lesson in History Vol. II – Democracy curated by Noreen Grahame. The book is a satirical commentary on the ambivalence of contemporary politics towards art and artists, and was published as part of the Centre for Regional Arts Practice – Artists Survey book series. The edition of the book is 25 with 5 artist’s proofs. Copies of the book can be purchased from grahame galleries for $25 + packaging and post.

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A video performance of the book is available here …

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Art is the Best-POLICY

VOTE 1 for R.A.G.E.

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Texts & Concept © 2012 Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart,

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The photos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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JOHN CATO Exhibition & Book Launch: Ballarat Int’l Foto Biennale

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Attendees @ the John Cato exhibition opening and book launch

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As photographers we all have special memories of those who inspired and nurtured our early interest in the medium. For some, teachers made a difference, and are forever remembered–even revered as heroes. None, or maybe only a few, have the reputation of John Cato. Working in the hallowed institution the Prahran College of Advanced Education in halcyon era of the 1970s and 80s Cato taught/mentored some of Australia’s most significant contemporary photographers. Names like Bill Henson, Nino Martinetti, Steven Lojewski, Polly Borland, Kim Corbel, James McArdle, Christopher Koller, Andrew Chapman and Julie Milowick were all Cato’s students.

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Andrew Chapman addresses the attendees

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James McArdle, who studied at Prahran with Chapman, Henson and Milowick in 1974-76, had this to say about Cato:

… in my memory John was a teacher determined to seek out the aptitudes and endowments of each student who came before him; his teaching and mentorship involved a deep empathy with each student’s approach. He was almost clairvoyant in being able to very quickly identify one’s strengths and it was on those he would concentrate, unafraid to express criticism; but only in terms of how a certain fault might detract from a strength. Such was his positive and affirming approach to teaching, and consequently we have each been left a different and very personal perception of what he valued in photography.

At the 2013 Ballarat International Foto Biennale an exhibition and the launch of a book on Cato’s work pay respect and homage to the man. In the afternoon of the opening day of the BIFB a gathering of past students and friends participated in the formalities of the event. Key presenters included Paul Cox, Andrew Chapman and Julie Milowick who told of their experiences of Cato and eulogised the influence that he has had on their photography. Well-known Melbourne ArtBlart blogger and commentator on photography Dr Marcus Bunyan presented an opening address and lamented the lack of recognition for Cato’s work and philosophical approach to photography and teaching. These sentiments seemed to be shared by the gathered audience. Bunyan’s address is available HERE.

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The book, John Cato Retrospective, is a significant record of the scope of Cato’s work and includes essays from a number of photographic commentators. At $20 the book is modestly priced considering the weight and value of its contents. Edited by Paul Cox and Bryan Gracey – Copies of the book can be purchased from the BIFB office or online through the publishers HERE.

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two of the John Cato exhibition rooms @ BIFB

Two of the John Cato exhibition rooms @ BIFB

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The exhibition filled a number of bays in the Ballarat Mining Exchange and included a video entitled Between Sunshine and Shadow – John Cato was produced by David Callow and Andrew Chapman and can be viewed below …

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Examples of John Cato’s photographs can be viewed on the dedicated website http://www.johncato.com.au

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The event concluded with book signings and conversations between the guests – no doubt excited about the respect paid to this significant Australian photographer and teacher of photography and life …

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Doug Spowart

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OTHER REPORTS AND NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT JOHN CATO

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John Cato Website

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From Paul Isbel

http://au.artshub.com/au/news-article/features/visual-arts/john-cato-remembered-in-prints-text-and-dvd-at-bifb-196242

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Alison Stieven Taylor from: The Australian August 10, 2013

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/natures-gentle-man/story-e6frg8h6-1226692887191

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Terry Lane from The Age August 22, 2013

http://www.theage.com.au/digital-life/cameras/john-cato-true-photographic-talent-20130821-2s9wo.html

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Photos © 2013 Doug Spowart,

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The photos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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2013 BALLARAT INT’L FOTO BIENNALE: LAUNCH – August 17, 2013

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BIFB Lauch attendees

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Around 400 guests attend a gala Festival Launch on Saturday August 17, 2013. Master of Ceremonies Dominic Brine introduced Cr Samantha McIntosh and Festival Director Jeff Moorfoot who both commented on this year’s event. The opening speech was presented by former Director of the Australian Centre of Photography, international curator and commentator on photography – Alasdair Foster.

The main hall of the Ballarat Mining Exchange was filled by the convivial sounds of conversation and the clink of glasses. The open space above crowd was filled by, what will become the signature feature of this year’s BIFB, Erika Diettes’ giant hanging ‘Sudarios (Shrouds).’

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The launch crowd with Erika Diettes shroud images

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BIFB Festival Director and Icon Jeff Moorfoot speaks at the launch

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Alasdair Foster delivers his opening address

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OPENING SPEECH BY ALASDAIR FOSTER – BALLARAT BIENNALE 2013

Good evening everyone.

It is a great pleasure and honour to be opening the 2013 Ballarat International Foto Biennale.

Look around you. Look where you are standing. For tonight you stand at a global nexus. A meeting point of many cultures and conversations.

Today, photography is our most international and effective mode of expression and communication. An art form supreme in its breadth of engagement and influence in the world. A medium of creativity and of the people, which crosses cultural and linguistic borders and has the potential to bring us closer together.

The exhibitions and events presented at the festival draw lines of human connection from across Australia and out through Colombia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. It is a program that recognises the importance of the relationship between personal experience locally and the things we share in the larger global community. Our common humanity. For, as Joan Miro noted:

“Art can only be truly universal when it is fundamentally local”

Photography is the art form of the people because it ultimately belongs to the people and not to one class or coterie. It is an egalitarian form in which there is a place for everyone.

But Ballarat Biennale is more than just this event. It is a highly proactive builder of networks. It now has two free online magazines: one focusing on images, the other on writing about images – subscription is free, just go onto the website and sign up to receive each issue.

Ballarat Biennale is the only Australian member of a network of photo festivals that spreads across Europe and the Americas, linking activity here with that undertaken in many other communities (large and small) on the other side of the globe.

Inspired by that model, Jeff Moorfoot initiated a new network in our greater region: The Asia-Pacific PhotoForum or APP. It has grown over a few short years until now, when it meets in China this September, the membership spans Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, China, Guatemala, Korea, New Zealand and Thailand. The Asia-Pacific is the region of the future, as markets and global focus shifts from the Atlantic to our own back yard. It is a region of significant diversity, and initiatives such as the PhotoForum are important ways, not just to further the interest of those who love photography, but to build an atmosphere of cultural sharing, empathy and mutual respect for difference.

All this from one small organisation with a big vision and an even bigger heart.

And you, who make and appreciate photography, are the beneficiaries.

At the risk of this sounding like a sermon, let me recount a parable…

In 1598, if you cast your minds back, Dutch sailors landed on the Island of Mauritius and found to their delight a large flightless bird that was easy to catch and delicious to eat. From then on a visit to Mauritius meant a slap-up meal for free. Fifty years later the sailors were scratching their heads, why were there so few birds these days. Where had they all gone? By 1662 the bird was extinct.

The bird was, of course, the dodo.

There was nothing wrong with the dodo. Quite the reverse. It was a marvel of adaptation to its surroundings; part of a thriving ecology. The problem arose when people came along who only took and did not give back. The result was irrevocable.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. And, if Ballarat Biennale is to flourish, it needs your support.

The festival draws together a wonderful, egalitarian, local–global community. Its survival is a matter of solidarity.

There is much you can do. Something to match every circumstance.

Membership of the festival is a mere $40 per biennial cycle. $20 per year. Everyone can manage that. So I urge you to join up and tell your friends. It is, quite literally, the least you can do.

The Biennale offers you the best deal around to acquire the status of a Patron of the Arts. For less than the cost of one soya latte a week you can become a Sapphire patron. Rising through Emerald to the status of Platinum for no more than the cost of a couple of boozy lunches with friends.

And you can lobby. It is your democratic right and your cultural duty. It’s election time. Write to the candidates standing in your area. Make it clear to them that Ballarat International Foto Biennale is, for you, an election issue. Write to the State. Send letters of thanks to the Mayor for the continuing support of the City of Ballarat. Suggest an increase.

We can all do our bit to ensure that the event that brings so much joy and inspiration; that celebrates the local enriched by the global; that reminds us that our culture is something in which we all have a share, continues to flourish.

So, in declaring the festival open, I would propose a toast. It is a toast of appreciation to the photographers, the funders and sponsors, the volunteers and to Jeff Moorfoot and his tireless team. And it is a toast to you, its supporters. The success of the festival is in your hands.

Ladies and gentleman the toast is “Solidarity!”

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Alasdair Foster ©2013

Thank you Alasdair for passing on your text to be published in this blog post.

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The launch crowd with Erika Diettes images

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Photos © 2013 Doug Spowart,  Opening address text © 2013 Alasdair Foster

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The photos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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JACKIE RANKEN @ BIFB: Doug’s catalogue essay

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Jackie Ranken's BIFB show

Jackie Ranken’s BIFB show

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Jackie Ranken has a huge show at the 2013 Ballarat International Foto Biennale –

I was privileged to write the catalogue essay …

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Jackie’s BIFB Catalogue pages

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Egg Poacher

Egg Poacher

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THE ESSAY

Jackie Ranken: far-flung – home and away

The call to photograph demands a photographer to react with spontaneity, vigour and intuition to record the observed moment. As they go into the world and seek out subjects of interest to make into photographs their operational mode could probably be described as that of the hunter-gatherer. Photographers like Elliott Erwitt, Robert Frank, Ansel Adams, Faye Godwin, Helen Levitt, William Eggleston and Martin Parr have shaped the history of photography using this mode of working. The quest undertaken by these hunter-gatherer photographers is to capture from the world something that is invisible or unseen in everyday life.

Then there are other photographers that are not content with just photographing what is before them, and as such are compelled to create their own realities to photograph. These constructed tableaux can combine disparate elements that may never have physically or metaphorically co-existed, presenting visual challenges and conundrums to those who look at these photo-fictions.

Australian born photographer Jackie Ranken, now living in New Zealand, is somewhat a photographic chameleon as she can manoeuvre between the two image-making styles with ease. Regardless of her mode of working Ranken’s photographs consistently present new and unique images of the world to inform, surprise and inspire the minds of the both the photo-specialist and public audiences.

The body of work that first brought Jackie Ranken to national prominence was a series of aerial photographs reinterpreting the Australian pastoral landscape. Ranken made these images precariously strapped into a Gypsy Moth bi-wing aircraft flown by her father. Aerobatic manoeuvres were required so that a straight-down view could be imaged without wing tips and struts. The result of these hair-raising flights was tightly composed photographs of landform details. Devoid of the references of perspective and horizon that viewers usually need to make sense of the landscape, these images presented visual cryptic patterns of the land rendered as geometric, non-representational shapes–patterns of cattle and sheep tracks, fence lines and the twist of a stream’s course. The viewer metaphorically flies above unfamiliar terrains visually seduced by the intricate beauty of these abstract landforms.

While this body of work may fit comfortably with the idea of the hunter-gatherer photographic mode, Ranken also purposefully constructed a space for her images to be created. She was not a casual observer waiting for the moment to capture her subject, but rather she provoked the landscape to reveal itself through her unusual viewpoint and representation.

The chameleon photographer that is Jackie Ranken has embraced many of the more traditional genres of photography including press photography, photodocumentary and travel or destination photography. Always present in her photography is an edginess that takes the viewer into new and exciting visual territory and the body of work presented in this year’s Ballarat International Foto Biennale is no exception. In her Kitchen Stories and other realities Ranken employs the New Zealand landscape as a stage in which many players or objects are cast. The landscape backgrounds selected by Ranken are often in themselves places of natural beauty – snow-capped mountains, barren grassy hills and clear watered lakes … until the landscape’s seemingly still and quiet nature is interrupted by flying objects that come across the field of view and grab the viewer’s attention. These unexpected and incongruous objects, now frozen in time and space, hover motionless over a monochrome landscape. An antique aluminium two-egg steamer pops up before a rustic country shack in field of tussock grass. In another image, located on a beach a drop-sided toaster and power cord snake serpent-like across the foreground perhaps as the Manaia[1] of New Zealand Māori culture.

Flying Toaster

Flying Toaster

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The design of the objects, their attitude in flight or physical placement in the frame, often imply a face in particular–the eyes, but as you allow imagination to take hold other features emerge. Robotic, alien (from outer space), drone-like apparatus and contraptions appear. In some images the similarity of object and location seem to connect with some kind of loose logic. Aluminium rice steamers have landed on earth and attempt to mimic the Moeraki Boulders behind them–hoping, maybe, to go unnoticed. Yet in other photographs, such as ones in which forks, with tines pointed skyward, emulate a miniature steely massed forest.

Moeraki Rice Cookers

Moeraki Rice Cookers

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The mysterious presence in Ranken’s photographs is further enhanced by her warm tone, sepia treatment of the images. Adding to the visual presentation of the photographs is the use of a dark border and veil-like texture screen. These techniques enable the normal colour and tone rendition of the subject to be transformed into an image that invokes fleeting memories and dreams. Anecdotes in the author’s own hand surround the image to recount Ranken’s connection with the object and the circumstances of the photo-making encounter.

Through the visual narrative of Kitchen Stories and other realities, Ranken constructs visual communiqués to connect the viewer with their memories and experiences and to encourage a heightened awareness of the ordinary things that surround their everyday life. In the captured ephemeral moments of flight Ranken presents the viewer with an opportunity to contemplate these objects of everyday experience. Ranken comments in her artist’s statement, that the Zen philosophy of Shibui informs her approach to life, and therefore she seeks to create images that present glimpses of a world where beauty can be found in simple and mundane objects.

What meaning should the viewer take from this? Are Ranken’s flung kitchenalia also a personal rebellion against homecraft and the traditional expectations of the housewife? Could it be a fascination with flight? Or is it that Ranken is a visual provocateur? In her artist’s statement the latter seems to be her strategy and it’s up to us to make sense of these incongruous apparitions. At first there may be a resistance to engage beyond the whimsical nature of the work. But these photographs deserve close and extended viewing, if not only to satisfy our curiosity for what has been presented to us, but also for what we may discover about ourselves, and the connections we make with the world.

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Dr Doug Spowart

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manaia_%28mythological_creature%29

BIOG: Doug Spowart is an artist, photographer, lecturer and artists’ bookmaker. With over 30 years continuous involvement in his art practice he has exhibited widely and his work is included in major gallery and library collections. Spowart has a PhD with his main research interests in both the photobook and social media.

 

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Photos © 2013 Jackie Ranken and Doug Spowart,  installation photo

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Written by Cooper+Spowart

August 22, 2013 at 9:39 am

ONE FOR THE BOOK – THE 2013 BLURB BIFB BOOK AWARD

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BIFB visitors checking out the book award entries

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Doug’s book – front right

ONE FOR THE BOOKS

A display of some of the best self-published photobooks in the country are being exhibited at the 2013 Ballarat International Foto Biennale.

A PRIZE FOR SELF PUBLISHED PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS proudly sponsored by Blurb

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale with major sponsor Blurb, present ‘One for the Books’ an exciting new prize celebrating the book as an innovative and contemporary format for presenting photography in a creative and narrative form. This prize is specifically for self publish, print on demand books. Books previously published by a traditional publishing house are not eligible for entry.

WHO COULD ENTER

The 2013 ‘One for the Books’ Prize will accept submissions for two categories; Professional and Amateur.  Winners will be announced at on Monday 19th August 2013 at the Post Office Gallery, Ballarat. Entrants must be Australian residents. Around 100 books were submitted for the judging and 20 finalists were selected.

THE FINALISTS WERE …

The finalists [professional category]
Rhiannon HOPLEY NSW
Charles KLEIN SA
Darren MARTIN NSW
Garry MOORE VIC
Gary SHEPPARD NSW
Doug SPOWART QLD
Andrew STY AN NSW
Peter WHYTE TAS

The finalists [amateur category]
John Paul AZIZ & Shaun DUNCAN VIC
Michael DAVISON VIC
Lidia D’OPERA WA
Grant HUNT QLD
Paul JURAK ACT
Erin STONESTREET ACT
Scott VINEY QLD

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AND THE WINNERS WERE …

At a special event on Monday August 19th the announcement of the winners of the inauguaral One for the books prize was announced.

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Charles Klein’s Awarded Book – Professional Category

Dadslides is a book dealing with a personal sense of nostalgia in the discovery of one’s own family photographs after the passing of a loved one. Klein’s book consisted of his father’s slides made between 1950 and 1981. The photos were scanned and sequenced within the book to create a document of a family growing up, going on holidays, messing around in the back yard and the other things that symbolise Australian life in this era. Strangely, whilst the book is about Charles Klein’s family, it strikes a resonance with us all and therein lies the beauty and the power of its narrative.

SEE THE BLURB REVIEW HERE: Charles Klein’s Awarded book

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Erin Stonestreet’s Awarded Book – Amateur Category

Air & Earth: The view from 30,000 ft is a book that deals with the aerial view of the earth. The rich colours and image juxtaposition create for the viewer an abstract view – all scale is abandoned and the images take on a sense of the magical, and perhaps even for some, a spiritual meaning.

SEE THE BLURB REVIEW HERE: Erin Stonestreet’s book

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I was excited to be a finalist in the award – Here is my book…

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Doug's Cover

Doug’s Finalists Book

My book deals with the political scene and is a parody of the potential for government agencies and politicians to do absurd things for, as they call it, ‘the good of the people’.

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SEE THE BLURB PREVIEW HERE: Doug’s Book.

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PLEASE ENJOY – And do get to Ballarat to see these amazing books in person …

And join in on the photobook print-on-demand revolution.

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Olive Cotton Award Winner Announced

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PRESS RELEASE FROM THE GALLERY – August 10, 2013

$20,000 winner of Olive Cotton Award announced

Magnum Photographer takes out prize money for intriguing portrait

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Photographers, Olive Cotton Award entrants, and the general public filled the foyer of the Tweed River Art Gallery tonight eager to hear who had won the 2013 Olive Cotton Award.  The exhibition features the work of 91 finalists from all Australian states and territories.  The exhibition features entries from emerging and established photographers selected from 381 entries Australian wide.

The judge, Helen Ennis, Head at the School of Art, Australian National University was delighted to judge the Olive Cotton Award, having a particular connection to Olive, as her biographer.  The award is funded by Olive Cotton’s family in memory of one of Australia’s leading twentieth century photographers.  In deciding the winner Ennis shortlisted a selection of works awarding four Highly Commended awards to works which held her attention due to the “clarity of the photographers’ approaches to portraiture and the different kinds of relationships they had with their subjects”.   These award were made to:

Petrina Hicks from Sydney for Ornament – “a haunting image of a young woman from another realm, rendered in muted colour”.

Tamara Dean from Sydney for Brothers – “a very moody and memorable image of teenage brothers photographed in a gloomy bush setting”.

Lee Grant from Canberra for Kristy – “a slightly awkward portrait of a young actress who belongs emphatically to the present time”.

Narelle Munro of Sydney for David– “a very sympathetic close-up portrait of the New York based Australian artist David Rankin”.

The winner of the $20,000 acquisitive prize is Trent Parke, one of Australia’s best known documentary photographers and the first Australian to join the prestigious Magnum Photos collective.  Of his entry Candid portrait of a woman on a street corner Ennis said it is “a very unusual work, the subject isn’t immediately visible and so our notions of portraiture are challenged.  The viewer is invited to actively work with the image in order for the face of this unknown woman to become apparent”.

Award Co-ordinator Anouk Beck said “Trent Parke was elated at the news and to receive an award for this work which marks a new direction for him and his first foray into portraiture”.

Through the generosity of the Friends of the Gallery Inc. Director Susi Muddiman selected four works for purchase for the Gallery’s permanent collection.  Her selections were:

Self portrait with cactus and telephone  2013 by Raimond de Weerdt of Lismore;

Bob Kattar MP  2011 by Russell Shakespeare of Currumnin Qld;

Barry Jones and the ancestor  2012 by Imogen Hall of Melbourne;

And Noah  2013, a portrait of actor Noah Taylor by Sahlan Hayes of Kangaloon and Sydney;

On Sunday 15 September, at 11.00am, Dr Doug Spowart will present a floortalk on the Olive Cotton Award 2013 exhibition.  Spowart’s reviews have been published in publications such as Art Monthly and the popular magazine Better Photography. All are welcome to attend.

At 1.00pm on Sunday 15 September Doug Spowart and Dr Victoria Cooper will be discussing The Artist and Social Media – making connections and making art.  Victoria and Doug are interdisciplinary visual artists who have adopted social media and blogs as a medium an integral part of their contemporary arts practice.  Using social media platforms they post reviews, profiles, opinions and collected writing about issues in the broader arts community which are then accessible and invite dialogue from a wide online community.  Both have lectured nationally and their work has been acquired for the artists’ books, rare book and manuscript collections in Artspace Mackay, State Libraries of Queensland and Victoria, the National Library of Australia and in the Carleton College Collection in the USA.

Complementing the 2013 Award is the ABC Open digital exhibition 100 Faces, the best of ABC

Open’s Snapped: Faces. This is a small selection from over 1000 portraits, captured by amateur and professional photographers throughout regional Australia, for the ABC Open June photography

challenge SNAPPED: FACES.

The exhibition continues until Sunday 29 September.  The Gallery and Gallery Cafe are open Wednesday to Sunday 10am-5pm.

A bonus – A PDF of the exhibition catalogue (Note images have been cropped square for design purposes) Go see the exhibition

SEE earlier post for details …

Click Here: 2013 OCA catalogue for web_screen

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Written by Cooper+Spowart

August 9, 2013 at 11:17 pm

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