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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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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

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

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