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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

EULOGY: GRAHAM BURSTOW – A personal view

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BURSTOW-Self Portrait for Viewer & the Viewed exhibition QCP 2006

Graham Burstow – Self Portrait – Viewer & the Viewed show at QCP 2006

 

Recently I have been working through my extensive archive, and Graham Burstow‘s name kept surfacing. I found a piece of correspondence from nearly 20 years ago when I was asked by the Australian Honours Secretariat to support a nomination for Graham for an Australia Day Honour. At the time I was the chair of the AIPP Education Sub-committee and had previously provided letters of support for photography related nominations.

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Even though 20 years has elapsed since being written, the words still hold true. We should recognise that Graham continued and expanded his connection with the great love of his life – photography.

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I am honoured to be able to present this commentary on our friend – Graham Burstow OAM

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LETTER DATED: August 3, 2003

Australian Honours Secretariat,
Government House,
Canberra    ACT  2600

Subject: Graham Burstow

Dear Secretariat,

I have known Graham Burstow since the late 1960’s. He has been a significant inspiration due to his dedication to the art of image-making, but also his support of many structures that shape photography in this country. While I make mention of this man’s influence on my life, his works and work have touched and inspired thousands of Australian and international photographers for nearly 50 years.

Graham Burstow’s main sphere of interest is in the camera club movement. He has held numerous positions within the Australian Photographic Society including national President, Chairman of the Print Division, keynote speaker and mentor. Since 1959 he has held positions within the Toowoomba Photographic Society (one of the oldest such groups in Australia). Burstow has been Chairman of no fewer than 6 national and international exhibitions of salon photography.

In his hometown of Toowoomba he has each year coordinated several national art photography awards including the McGregor Prize for Photography at the University of Southern Queensland, and the Heritage Photographic Award at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery since 1977. In my opinion Graham Burstow has a hand in, and a hand to offer, for anything photographic from presenting lectures or judging awards for students at the Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE where I work, or assisting community groups including senior citizens groups and Lifeline.

Burstow’s work appears regularly in magazines and publications including his self-published book “Touch Me”.  In 1984 I curated a substantial survey of his work at Imagery Gallery in Brisbane. His work has been shown in salon exhibitions world-wide and in major institutions like the Queensland Art Gallery.

Graham Burstow has received significant honours for his photographic work and his service to photography including the following: Associateship and EFIAP(service) of the International Federation of Photographic Art, Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society, Associateship of the Photographic Society of America and a Fellow and Honorary Fellow of the Australian Photographic Society.

In a review of his book “Touch Me” I commented that:

Burstow’s work is about sharing his vision with the world.  It represents a lifetime of photographic exploration of the art.  Burstow’s work is not just about camera club pictorialism but also aspects of the human condition and the humour of everyday situations.  This book is not intended as a catalogue for purchase, it is rather a communique, the photographer reaching out with the world in his photographs inviting the viewer to touch the experience portrayed.

Diversity of style and subject is apparent in Burstow’s journey in photography.  It seems as if he had walked alongside Max Dupain at the beach, been with Wolfgang Sievers at the building site, shared an impromptu moment with Henri Cartier-Bresson, a portrait session with Arnold Newman, some personal introspective moments with Nan Goldin, and an adventure with Frank Hurley.

Australian photography would be greatly diminished if it were not for the contribution of this generous and modest man – I have great pleasure in supporting his nomination for the Order of Australia.

Yours faithfully,

Doug Spowart  M.Photog, FAIPP, Hon.FAIPP   Chair of the AIPP Education Sub-committee

 


 

A SELECTED COLLAGE OF IMAGES FROM GRAHAM’S LIFE

Click on the image to enlarge the view and see the full caption

 

SOME WORDS FROM GRAHAM …

Australian Cultural Library presentation media Cobb & Co Toowoomba 2021 PHOTO Doug Spowart

ACL presentation media at Cobb & Co Museum Toowoomba 2021 PHOTO Doug Spowart

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For an insight into how he felt about his life in photography, an event in 2021 at the Cobb & Co Museum recorded by the Chronicle Newspaper (paywall) might provide an answer. Graham was being awarded a Life Membership of the Australian Cultural Library (ACL) by the director Steve Towson. In a video interview he was to comment that he had been photographing for 73 years. He also added:

When you look at the things you can do to keep your mind occupied and increase the length of your life, photography is nearly always near the top of the list.

It keeps your mind busy and even when you are not photographing you are probably thinking about something you want to photograph.

I think it’s worked in my case … I enjoy it, met a lot of wonderful people, it’s been great to get to go to a lot of interesting places… *

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ONE FINAL STORY FROM GRAHAM …

In my collection I have a Graham Burstow photograph entitled No 2 The Day Ahead. For me, at this time it is a poignant image …

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NO 2 THE DAY AHEAD by Burstow

 

 

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FIND OUT MORE ABOUT GRAHAM BURSTOW …

http://www.grahamburstow.com.au/

 

*Tribute for Toowoomba photographer icon Graham Burstow Stephen Burstow John Elliott | The Chronicle  (Paywall story)

Thanks to Bev Lacey for the ACL quote and photograph and Zigi for the gift of the Noosa 10×8 photograph

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6 Responses

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  1. So much wonderful material about Graham. So many memories. Thanks for sharing them.

    Brian Rope

    August 19, 2022 at 4:57 pm

  2. Beautifully done Doug, thank you such a lovely tribute to Graham.

    Beverley Lacey

    August 20, 2022 at 9:36 am

  3. A wonderful post, Doug, thanks for sharing this information on such a fascinating photographer. I would bump into Graham with his Nikon F4 around Toowoomba every now and then and he always had time for a thoughtful chat. Just love your images of Graham against the tree and that beautiful last image. Sublime.

    Robert Ashdown

    August 21, 2022 at 10:28 pm


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