Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

A GIFT OF A CAMERA: David Tickell’s cameras

with one comment

Advertising stuff from the 1960s for David's cameras

Advertising stuff from the 1960s for David’s cameras


In March 2013 I was contacted by David Tickell who wanted to meet with me to talk about a proposition he had in mind. I had known David for many years – he had been a writer and critic for the local press and had written the text for a book by my photographer friend John Elliott. In the early 2000s David had enrolled in photography studies at the college I taught at in Toowoomba. He was always an enthusiastic contributor to the classroom as he sought to learn and master digital photography. It became evident to me at the time that David had a considerable interest and capability in photography from his past career activities.


When David came by to visit he brought an aluminium case covered with the patina of travel and use. Inside the case were the things that David had wanted to talk with me about. We sat in our carport rainforest and talked about what we’ve both been up to and changes in our lives. David spoke about downsizing his life’s goods and chattels and introduced the aluminium case’s treasures to me… a Rollei twin lens reflex with a range of filters and accessories, an Exakta 35mm SLR – all neatly packed with manuals and other ephemera. It was all in immaculate condition. He told me that he had purchased it in the Middle East at a time in his journalism career that needed quality photographs.


With David Tickell on the day of his gift to me in 2013

With David Tickell on the day of his gift to me in 2013

His dilemma now was that with digital photography he had no need for the equipment and he wanted to pass it on to someone who would appreciate it and perhaps even use it – he proposed that I was that person. I appreciated his gesture and felt honoured by his offer. I mentioned that Vicky and I had a Rollei in our possession and that we would look after the gear and pass it on to an individual, perhaps a student, who we considered would value this equipment and use it to extend their analogue photography work. We made photographs of our meeting with the cameras and David left feeling excited that his gift was well received and would be looked after.

For some time I’ve been looking out for a suitable person to receive David’s gear. Quite a few years ago I’d come across a Brisbane band webpage called ‘Something from the scene’, and a little while later I had a student who was interested in contemporary band photography who had found the same site as an inspiration. In June 2015 we met Thomas Oliver at the Siganto Artists Book Forum in Brisbane. He was the guy from ‘Something from the scene’. We both connected with Thomas who we found out was a Queensland College of Art Bachelor of Photography student. Our paths have crossed many times since including his involvement in exhibitions and projects I’ve curated include a Skype artist’s talk that he participated in at Maud Gallery in March for the In situ documentary show.

Recently Thomas has completed his Bachelor of Photography and was the winner of the John Mckay Award for the student going into honours, and a Saint Margaret School’s internship award. He is continuing his studies with an Honours year at QCA. I was particularly interested in Thomas’ engagement with analogue photography. Extensive project work while on study tour to Europe, the UK and Canada was shown at Maud in the ‘In situ’ show and his graduating BP work featured an involvement in the variants and deviations possible from the printing of the singular black and white film negative.


PHOTO: Thomas Oliver from his 'Disconnection' series

PHOTO: Thomas Oliver from his ‘Disconnection’ series

PHOTO: Thomas Oliver from his 'Disconnection' series

PHOTO: Thomas Oliver from his ‘Disconnection’ series

Thomas Oliver giving his floortalk by Skype

Thomas Oliver giving his ‘In Situ’ floortalk by Skype from Canada

Thomas talking about his work at the Maud Gallery 'Dark Love' event in November 2016

Thomas talking about his work at the Maud Gallery ‘Dark Love’ event in November 2016


For his enthusiasm for photography and his dedication to analogue photography I chose to pass on David’s gear to Thomas. We met at Maud Gallery at the end of November and the exchange made. He was excited to be the recipient of David’s equipment legacy and excitedly talked about how the gear could be used in his future photographic research work.


Thomas Oliver and me

Thomas Oliver and me


David’s equipment has found a new life with Thomas and as long as he has a need and a interest it will reside with him – until he wishes to pass it on to a new custodian…

Thomas Oliver with David's gear

Thomas Oliver with David’s gear


Words about David Tickell from John Elliot’s photographic documentary book The Last Show published in 1986. The book was about the last Toowoomba Agricultural Show held on the inner-city site bordering Bridge, Campbell and Lindsay Streets. Elliott’s photographs were complimented by a text telling the story of the show written by David.

From John Elliott's book 'The Last Show' 1986

From John Elliott’s book The Last Show 1986





Written by Cooper+Spowart

December 17, 2016 at 1:47 pm

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Great to see these cameras passed on to someone who really appreciates them and will give them another life. I look forward to seeing what Thomas creates with them. Well done Doug!

    Helen Cole

    December 18, 2016 at 10:43 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: