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SUSAN LEWAY’s Show: Linear Acceleration – from Glen O’Malley

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Exhibition invitation

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Exhibition attendees .... Photo courtesy of Robert Mercer

Exhibition attendees …. Photo courtesy of Robert Ashdown

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Glen O'Malley speaks @ the opening .... Photo courtesy of Olive Lin

Glen O’Malley speaks @ the opening …. Photo courtesy of Olive Lin

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The following is Glen O’Malley’s opening address.

This is an exhibition of mainly vintage, hand-coloured black and white prints from the 80s and 90s, by Brisbane artist Susan Leway.

A few Australian photographers were playing with hand colouring techniques at that time – the beginnings of a period that has since been described as ‘post photographic’. It was not the traditional hand colouring of the wedding studios, made to look ‘real’, but a more interpretative approach, produced to look ‘hand coloured’. Most of the new hand colourists were female – the likes of Micky Allen – who drew on feminist strategies, emphasising the personal and autobiographical with a social documentary basis.

However it may eventually be interpreted, Leway’s intentions were not so feminist, nor so obviously socially aware. She just loved big machines! In the catalogue of her 1994 exhibition as artist in residence at Indy on the Gold Coast, Doug Spowart wrote. “Hers has always been rather mechanical, with a bent towards the apparatus of flight. Cigar shaped fuselage, two bladed prop, clash of perspex and rivets along with the occasional brave young aviator. Always Leway’s photographs have been embellished with a layer of hand applied coloured dyes.

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Your Smoke Goggles are under your seat by Susan Leway

Your Smoke Goggles are under your seat by Susan Leway

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Now it seems there has been a change, but strangely, although the machines are ground based, there still pervades a whiff of octane and flight.”

Leway herself put it even more passionately in 1993, “Tension, Excitement, Heat and Anticipation are four words that spell Indy to me”

In these digital days, ‘Photoshop’ is often used, in everyday language, to imply some sort of dishonesty. When Leway made these images, it was simpler. Sure, there were photographic critics concerned with whether photography’s purity was compromised, but no one thought it was dishonest. She put paint on photos. Strangely, in a world now, where we are bombarded by both subtly, and brutally, altered images, the pictures in this exhibition still have an unusual strength – maybe because it’s real paint on the paper.

Spowart wrote in 1994, “This new offering of Leway hand-tinted work continues to challenge our perception of colour and representation. For these photographs are neither natural colour nor are they monochrome black and white. They are perhaps Lewaycolour as it is through her selection and application that the chromatic aspects of these images are determined. Through this deliberate colourization of a black and white base image, unimaginable colours, except those which are in the artist’s mind, can be selected, applied and juxtaposed.”

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Dusk by Susan Leway

Dusk by Susan Leway

Leway’s current exhibition at Woolloongabba Art Gallery has been produced with the artist facing many difficulties. It is pleasing to see a few recent digital images, but the majority of the work is older images. They are as fresh, or even fresher, today. To repeat what Doug Spowart said in the Indy caralogue, thank you, Susan.

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Glen O’Malley 2013

The exhibition ran for one week at Woolloongabba Art Gallery from 27 – 31 August, 2013.

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Susan and daughter Frea (to her right) .... Photo courtesy of Olive Lin

Susan and daughter Freya (to her right) …. Photo courtesy of Olive Lin

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Circus Maximus (Detail) by Susan Leway

“The pits were incredible – so much going on, the level of technology astounding. Everyone (the teams) were linked by radio, computers abounded, even the camera crews were linked together by their equipment.

 Watching the crews perform their duties, I was amazed at the teamwork involved and the speed at which they executed them. Basically you have about six seconds to capture the action because by eight seconds the crews were back behind the barrier and the cars were gone.

I definitely had the feeling that the whole scene was something out of Ancient Rome’s “Circus Maximus”.

Susan Leway 1993

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Susan Leway-portrait-72

A portrait of Susan Leway c1994 ……Photo: Doug Spowart

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ADDITIONAL PHOTOS from the opening…

Alex Shaw - Director Wooloongabba Art Gallery .... Photo courtesy of Olive Lin

Alex Shaw – Director Wooloongabba Art Gallery …. Photo courtesy of Olive Lin

Susan and Reg King from the Lynne King Cancer Foundation .... Photo courtesy of Olive Lin

Susan and Reg King from the Lynne King Cancer Foundation …. Photo courtesy of Olive Lin

Susan with guests .... Photo courtesy of Robert Mercer

Susan with guests …. Photo courtesy of Robert Ashdown

Susan with guests .... Photo courtesy of Robert Mercer

Susan with guests …. Photo courtesy of Robert Ashdown

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Photos © Susan Leway, ©2012 portrait – Ian Poole, Exhibition photos by ©2013 Olive Lin and ©2013 Robert Ashdown and ©1994 portrait Doug Spowart

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This text ©2013 Glen O’Malley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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