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MORE THAN THE COVER: Judging the Photobook of the Year

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The Finalists...

The Finalists…

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Recently in Auckland and Melbourne two groups of photobook aficionadas and aficionados assembled before 31 and 71 books respectively, and worked as a team to decide which of the books before them were exemplary of contemporary photobooks and, if consensus could prevail, which book – in each location, was the ‘best’ photobook.

 

The selection process is based on a ‘Judging Criteria’ that has been developed and enhanced over the many years of the awards which states that the judges will review each entry to assess the:

  • excellence of the photography, design, layout, typography and cover art
  • quality of the photo editing and sequencing to create an engaging visual narrative
  • ability of any additional imagery, text or ephemera to enhance the story in the photographs and/or book
  • appropriateness of the photography, design and format for the book’s intended purpose and audience

As the definition of a photobook remains broad, from photozines to trade coffee table books, a key consideration for the judging panel is to evaluate the ‘appropriateness’ of the book in the context of its ‘intended purpose and audience’. This aspect of the Criteria creates an opportunity for diverse products to be sensitively and fairly assessed.

 

The AuPOTY judges: Heidi Romano, Helen Frajman, Victoria Cooper, Daniel Boetker-Smith and Emma Phillips

 

The judging panel is purposefully selected to include experts in photography, design and book publishing. Each year these judges are changed to allow for representatives from different backgrounds, locations, gender, industry areas including design, publishing, media, cultural institution, academia, retail, art and commercial worlds.

Additionally judges weren’t allowed to score or advocate for books in which potential conflict of interest may cause problems. This is a particularly important issue as our photobook communities in Australia and New Zealand are small and connected.

 

 

The Photobook of the Year – 5 stage judging process:

 

Stage 1. A PDF of each book was forwarded to the judges in advance for them to gauge a preliminary impression of the book, its visual nature, content and narrative. Each judge completed a ‘first impression’ top 10 books spread sheet and provided feedback in the form of a comment and score for the books that they had selected.

Stage 2. The judges met and participated in some introductory discussions about the award and the processes that were to follow. After that the books were laid out on tables enabling the judges to encounter the physical and haptic experience of each book. Another ‘score sheet’ was provided so that judges could quantify their response to each book. While this review was basically carried out individually some casual discussion took place between judges. Many judges were to comment that seeing the ‘real’ book was surprisingly different from the impression that they had gained from the PDF screen view.

 

NzPOTY Judging team included Jonty Valentine, Anne Noble, Layla Tweedie-Cullen, Haru Sameshima, Ron Brownson and Doug Spowart PHOTO: From Facebook post

 

Stage 3. The judges score sheets were tallied resulting in a group of books being selected for round-table review and discussion. From this group activity the finalists were determined. In the AuPOTY 12 books were selected and in NzPOTY 10 made the finalist list. It should be noted that judge/s disclosed any involvement or potential conflict of interest with particular books or association that they may have with the author.

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Stage 4. In this, the final stage, the judges debated the relative attributes of the books working towards a point where consensus over the ultimate winner could be determined as well as any books deserving of ‘Commended’ awards could be made. This stage of the process was interesting to participate in or to observe, as the many differing opinions of what constitutes the ‘contemporary photobook’ made for a lively and informative debate.

 

A consensus was to be achieved in both judgings and the results were:

 

Australian Photobook of the Year Winner:

Astres Noirs by Katrin Koenning & Sarker Protick, published by Chose Commune

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AuPOTY WINNER: Astres Noirs by Katrin Koenning & Sarker Protick & Published by Chose Commune

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Recipients of Commended awards were:

  • Elsewhere by Fuad Osmancevic
  • J.W. by Clare Steele
  • Memorandum by Ana Paula Estrada
  • Some Want Quietly by Drew Pettifer, Published by M.33
  • Surface Phenomena by Bartolomeo Celestino, Published by Perimeter Editions

 

FINALISTS

  • Bird by Gary Heery
  • Courts 02 by Ward Roberts & Editions
  • Elemental by Rohan Hutchinson
  • Golden Triangle by Hannah Nikkelson
  • Kinglake by Jade Byrnes
  • Two Pandanus Trees Side by Side by Aaron Claringbold

 

Page views, the judges and other book details of the AuPOTY can be seen HERE

APOTY Website

 

 

 

New Zealand Photobook of the Year Joint Winners:

  • Rannoch by Simon Devitt
  • Touchy by Evangeline Davis

Rannoch by Simon Devitt PHOTO: From the NzPOTY Website

Touchy by Evangeline Davis PHOTO: From the NzPOTY website

 

Recipients of Commended awards were:

  • As the Road Bends by Blair Barclay
  • Duplex City by Blair Kitchener

 

FINALISTS

  • Conversations With My Mother by Shelley Ashford
  • R&S Satay Noodle House by Sally Young
  • Soap and Water by Bronwyn McKenzie
  • Someone’s Mana by Michael Krzanich
  • The Shops by Peter Black
  • Watching the fishes go by by Niki Boon

 

Page views, the judges and other book details of the NzPOTY can be seen HERE

NzPOTY Website

 

 

The travelling exhibition of the POTY winners and finalists

A&NZ Photobooks of the Year 2015 @ Maud Gallery in Brisbane PHOTO: Doug Spowart

A&NZ Photobooks of the Year 2015 @ Maud Gallery in Brisbane PHOTO: Doug Spowart

 

STAGE 5. In each country visitors to the AuNzPOTY exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are invited to vote for their favourite book, and the winner receives $500 cash + $2,000 printing credit with Momento Pro.  The winner will be announced via a Photobook of the Year Awards email later in the year. Subscribe at awards@photobookoftheyear.com.au.

 

Some personal observations and comments about the judging

 

As a witness to one of the judgings (AuPOTY), and a participant judge in the other (NzPOTY) I have reflected on the process and the salient issues, topics and well-discussed points and prepared this comment piece. I might add that these are based on my recollections of the proceedings as well as my personal thoughts gained from my involvement.

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The universal definition of what is a photobook remains illusive. What judges think, what the entrants or others may think is a photobook may never be resolved. Although the perception of what a photobook might be does effect every aspect of the awards influencing who might enter and what their expectations of the award may be.

Also what is the nature of the selected finalists, and what book wins the awards, sends out a message to the broad range of people interested in photobooks to confirm or challenge their idea of what a photobook is.

2

Who made the book? Is it self-published? Or was it trade published? Was it a collaboration – did it involve a single photographer or multiple photographers with editor/s, publisher and designer/s? As all have a bearing on the book as a creative product or a commercial outcome.

3

What was the purpose for the book…? Is it for general consumers, niche markets or a personal record bound in book form?

4

Much discussion centred around concepts relating to design style, tricks of printing and binding, different papers, round fore edge corners, trendy layouts, typography, embellishments and packaging. Some books were considered derivative as certain features were part of last year’s trend or were recognised as being influenced by/taken/copied/borrowed from a recent well-known successful book. Therefore books with original concepts were held in higher esteem.

The question begs to be asked… at what point do any of these ‘derivative’ features become recognised as a visual style/form or narrative effect that contributes to the book communiqué?

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The meaning and implications of collaboration.

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Artist’s statements were often poorly written, or overtly academic ‘artspeak’.

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One important consideration was that the book was as a total package where all of its components; concept, content, design, production values and binding were seen as creating a total creative entity.

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Some common phrases from the judges were:

  • Fabric of construction
  • Economical
  • I wish I’d made that…
  • If only I could have had those images to edit…

 

In conclusion:

The Patrons for Australian and New Zealand Photobook of the Year Awards are Libby Jeffery and Geoff Hunt of MomentoPro. They have  funded prizes, coordinating the judging process: including judge selection, announcement events and exhibitions. Partners in the awards include Heidi Romano from Unless You Will, Photography Studies College Melbourne and in New Zealand f11 Online magazine.  Over 6 years these awards have championed photobook publishing activity and discourse and as such created a record of contemporary photobook practice in the antipodes.

The Australian and New Zealand Photobook of the Year 2016 will tour nationally in 2017… Visit the Photobook of the Year website for details.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

 

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TEXT: ©2017 Doug Spowart
PHOTOs: ©2017 Doug Spowart (unless indicated otherwise)

 

 

 

 

 

COVERING: The 2016 Libris Artists’ Book Award

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Artspace Mackay

Artspace Mackay

 

A COMMENT ON THE 2016 LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARDS

 

In his announcement speech for the 2016 Libris Awards at Artspace Mackay judge Sasha Grishin makes the observation that: ‘The contemporary artists book is characterised by boundless freedom’, and adds that: ‘… it has absorbed many conceptual frameworks, many art mediums and technologies and goes across the spectrum of the senses.’

 

Visitors to Artspace and the Libris Awards encounter an open space with islands of book presentation devices. Plinths of all sizes – some encased, others at floor level, there are shelves on walls, books as mobile installations hung from the ceiling and other books with ‘pages’ covering large expanses of wall. This is not an easy walk-through exhibition as each work beckons, siren-like, calling for the extended gaze of the reader.

The Artspace Libris exhibition

The Artspace Libris exhibition

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On this occasion the winners were:

  • Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists Book Award $10,000 Acquisitive Award went to George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, for Europa to Oceania.*

 

George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, for Europa to Oceania

George Matoulas & Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, Europa to Oceania

Grishin’s comments about the work were:

After much soulsearching I decided to allot the winning entry for the major prize to a collaborative and fabulous artists book by two Melbourne‐based artists, George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by the novelist and playwright Antoni Jach, titled Europa to Oceania. The three linocuts are by Angela, the three collographs are by George and there are another two collaborative foldout prints. The two artists, one of Greek extraction, the other from Calabria in Italy, with wit, profundity and beauty explore the migrant experience at a time when the Australian social fabric is under stress with the question of refugees and migration.

Highly commended in this award were:
Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison’s Closer to Natural
Monica Oppen’s Metropolis
Tim Moseley’s Kange pholu wanda

Peter Lyssiotis’ Blind Spot

 

  • Mackay Regional Council Regional Artists Book Award for a local artist went to May‐Britt Mosshamer for Tapping the knowledge.*
May‐Britt Mosshamer for Tapping the knowledge.*

May‐Britt Mosshamer Tapping the knowledge.*

Grishin’s comments about the work were:

As much as one fought the temptation, the $2,500 award had to go to the local artist, May‐Britt Mosshamer and her effective piece Tapping the knowledge. In art you can say very important things with a bit of humour in your back pocket. This work is all about the flood of information and the drought in knowledge.

The highly commended, or runner‐up entries in this category were:

Denise Vanderlugt’s I used to wrap rainbows
Jo Mitchell’s For Mary

 

  • Artspace Mackay Foundation Youth and Student Artists Book Award (under 26years), went to Brooke Ferguson and her The Small Garden (for M.S.).*
Brooke Ferguson The Small Garden (for M.S.).

Brooke Ferguson The Small Garden (for M.S.).

Judge Grishin’s comment on the work:

This is an award that is about taking risks, a punt and choosing the unexpected, the promising and the challenging. It is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for an emerging artist to gain national recognition plus a handy fistful of dollars. I selected the work by the 25‐year‐old Brisbane‐based artist, Brooke Ferguson and her The Small Garden (for M.S.) The MS stands for the wonderful veteran artist, Madonna Staunton, where young Brooke Ferguson was inspired by a poem by Staunton and with gouache, pen and ink and pencil has created a fragile concertina – a beautiful sensibility from a promising young artist.

 

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In my opinion some books call for special mention. Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition is transfixing. The suspended brown paper sheets with a hand printed letterpress phrases from poetry by Angela Gardner are animated by the flow of air and movement in the space. Forever moving, the oscillation of the pages becomes a machine for the generation of concrete poetry… phrases twirl and merge, poetic moments where new meaningful/less messages materialise.

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Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution

The individual pages of Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution are pinned to the wall making what may seem like a vast wallpaper pattern. However, Stayt’s work invites a closer reading of the cipher hidden within the layers of the image. He presents some big questions where contemporary notions of tradition are challenged and rapidly changing technology has intertwined agency in the evolutionary pathway for humanity.

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Julie Barratt Blair Athol recut

Julie Barratt Blair Athol recut

Julie Barratt’s Blair Athol recut refers to Solastalgia: a theory on the contemporary human condition for a deep loss of place. In one part of the installation there is a book of dark photolithographs where maps are encroached upon by black inks. For the reader this growing blackness evokes a gloomy absence. Facing the dark pages in the clamshell container are vials of coloured soils, plant fragments and found objects. Although collected from this disturbed place, these samples are vibrant and alive – perhaps they are the vestiges of childhood memories that recall a different time before the destruction of the physical place by coal mining.

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Ana Paula Estrada Memorandum

Ana Paula Estrada Memorandum

Many books feature photographs as the primary carrier of the narrative. Ana Paula Estrada’s Memorandum employs the medium to document elderly people and their connection with life through personal photographs and how their memories are re-lived through viewing these photos. The book, conceived and made through the Siganto Foundation Creative Fellowship in the Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland, is a complex assemblage of contemporary portraits, photo-glimpses from family albums and a narrative conveyed through the turning of pages.

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Exhibition view

Exhibition view

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As usual the artists’ book as exhibition defies direct touch and the turning of pages for narratives to be revealed and for the book to speak of what it has allowed the artist to create. But for the 72 books in the exhibition to be read the visitor would need to stay for the duration of the exhibition, working through the night with white gloves and torchlight. The exhibition reconnects and continues the significant contribution of the Artspace Mackay’s Libris Award to inspire artists and create a space discourse on the book in all its forms. In doing so the assembled exhibition represents cutting edge survey of Australian artists’ book practice.

Some works will become part of the Artspace Mackay collection; others will be re-packaged and returned to their makers. While the exhibition is dispersed its spirit will continue in the form of the gallery’s excellent illustrated catalogue, the text of Grishin’s speech, reviews, videos and other commentaries such as this, as well as the memories of the readers who viewed the show.

In two years time – the next iteration of this important event in the Australian artists’ book calendar will take place again. Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole collection could be purchased and held in perpetuity as a record of the discipline? Until then …

 

Dr Doug Spowart

16 October 2016

 

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-25-18-pm

DOWNLOAD THE CATALOGUE: 2016-librisawards_illustratedlistofworks

http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/204955/2016LibrisAwards_IllustratedListofWorks.pdf

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A VIDEO FLY-THRU OF THE EXHIBITION

 

OTHER BOOKS FROM THE EXHIBITION

 

Denise Vanderlugt with her highly commended bookwork I used to wrap rainbows

Denise Vanderlugt with her highly commended bookwork I used to wrap rainbows

Peter LYSSIOTIS Blind spot

Peter LYSSIOTIS Blind spot

Martha BOWMAN You could have sent an email or a text

Martha BOWMAN You could have sent an email or a text

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution (Detail)

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution (Detail)

Bernard APPASSAMY Constellation of endearment (Detail)

Bernard APPASSAMY Constellation of endearment (Detail)

Deanna HITTI Assimilated museum

Deanna HITTI Assimilated museum

Gracia HABY and Louise JENNISON Closer to natural

Gracia HABY and Louise JENNISON Closer to natural

Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition

Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition

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All photographs and videos ©2015 Doug Spowart.  Main text (except Judge Sasha Grishin’s words) ©2015 Doug Spowart   With thanks to Victoria Cooper for her suggestions and edits.

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DOUG’s Photobook Research: NLA FELLOWSHIP SHORTLISTING

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Doug Spowart: researcher in the Repository of the State Library of Queensland

Doug Spowart: researcher in the Repository of the State Library of Queensland

 

 

I’VE BEEN HOLDING MY BREATH FOR MANY WEEKS – waiting for an email about an amazing research opportunity at the National Library of Australia that I’d applied for and had heard, unofficially, that I had been shortlisted. A 3-month research Fellowship with access to the Library’s extensive resources, remuneration and living expenses was a possibility that was tantalisingly close. Importantly, the Fellowship would enable me to significantly enhance and create some conclusion to years of independently funded study in my chosen field of photobooks – particularly Australian photobooks.

 

A couple of days ago I received the email…

 

Dear Dr Spowart
Thank you for applying for a National Library of Australia Fellowship.  I regret to inform you that your application on this occasion was unsuccessful.  There was a large field of highly competitive applications from both established and early career researchers and from independent scholars, making selection a challenging task for the Library’s Fellowships Advisory Committee.

 

For your information I have included some components of my NLA Fellowship application.

 

TITLE: Looking into a mirror – The Australian Photobook 1970-2000

 

When we look into an Australian photobook and we see our history, our culture and ourselves. Although interest in the photobook internationally in the last 10-15 years has sparked academic research and the publication of numerous histories this has not been reflected in the Australian scene.

In 2011 NLA Harold White Fellow Dr Martyn Jolly conducted research that covered broad aspects of Australian photobook publishing with a concentration on the rise of the photographically illustrated book in the 1960s. He stated that this era: ‘…set the stage for Australia’s much better known ‘photography boom’ of the 1970s’.

This research Fellowship will address the need for research, critique and commentary to discuss the Australian form of the photobook. The resulting presentations and publications are intended to celebrate the photobooks’ special ability to provide a time capsule snapshot of political, environmental and social movements beyond Jolly’s 1960s research.

As a visual communication medium the photobook becomes a mirror to the nation through which we can see not only ourselves, but also how we present our country to the world. This research will ‘look into the mirror’, and reveal the valuable contribution that photobooks, through image and design, made in telling Australian stories.

 

 

The need for the research

In Australia the main focus of published research in photography has been of the photograph itself with scant recognition for the photographically illustrated book. This is despite the fact that the photobook, although considered as being primarily about photography, by default, also represents Australian graphic design history. Photobooks then are a collaborative product where the photograph and graphic design synergistically merge to create a sophisticated communiqué.

Dr Martyn Jolly noted in a paper published in the History of Photography journal that: The role of the photobook has been unjustly neglected in the various histories of Australian photography. However, books primarily illustrated with photographs and celebrating various aspects of Australian life and landscape – ‘Australiana’ photobooks – have been a fundamental part of the nation’s publishing industry since the 1920s.

Recently, the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ exhibition The Photograph and Australia was acclaimed as one of the largest collection of historical photographic images in Australia, and yet only only showed five photobooks. In the exhibition’s catalogue introduction Curator Judy Annear, makes no apology for what may seem as the marginalisation of the photobook but rather acknowledges that there is so much more to be done. She states in the concluding sentence that: The history of the photograph and its relationship to Australia remains tantalisingly partial; the ever-burgeoning archives await further excavation.

 

 

The research

My research will cover the date range from 1970 to 2000 and will follow on from Dr Martyn Jolly’s Harold White Fellowship area of review.

As a result of PhD research and post-doctoral work on the intersection of artists’ books and photobooks I am well positioned to review and comment on the twin perspectives of photography and book design.

 

The Aims of the research

The aim of my proposed research at the NLA will be to:

  • Provide a structural framework for the discussion of Australian photobook in the era 1970-2000;
  • Identify aspects of the Australian photobook including graphic design and narrative expression that contribute to its own unique identity in an international context;
  • Seek opportunities to identify and give prominence to photobooks and their makers; and
  • Elevate the stature of the photobook in contemporary photography and design discourse in Australia.

Aspects of the research

Aspects of the research include:

  • The presence and influence of design trends in photobooks of the era;
  • Circumstances where the photographer may have been the designer of the book as is the case with many Mark Strizic books;
  • The emergence of the artists’ book based on photography such as Peter Lyssiotis’ photomontage works;
  • Art photography and its exploration of photographic representation in the form of the book;
  • Photobooks exploring themes of Feminism;
  • Landscape photography and its alliance with environmentalism; and
  • Evidence of the emergence of land rights and Aboriginal activism through photobooks.

Other details of the application followed…

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I will apply again and for the moment continue my personally funded research.

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Until next time, the researcher awaits an opportunity…

Portrait of the author in Wilfredo Prieto's 'Untitled' (White Library) at MONA

Portrait of the author in Wilfredo Prieto’s ‘Untitled’ (White Library) at MONA

 

Written by Cooper+Spowart

August 16, 2016 at 2:45 pm

VICTORIA COOPER: Shortlisted for National Library Creative Fellowship

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Victoria Cooper researching artists books

 

I was recently shortlisted for a Creative Fellowship at the National Library of Australia. Even though I was not successful in receiving the fellowship, this level of recognition for my project is very exciting. For a long time I have been dreaming about a project in which I can unleash the bunyip from its exile within the contemporary narrative of children’s books. Muzzled by anthropomorphism, this chimera of the dark swampy corners of Australia may seem to be docile and quaint, but I believe there is still a sublime wildness within–waiting to surface…..

 

This was my proposal for the National Library of Australia’s Creative Fellowship

The bunyip was once a feared monster of Australian waterways and swamps. In this project I ask: Where is this chimera of Indigenous and early colonial storytelling and myth to be found in contemporary life? Has this fearsome spirit been tamed through parody or clichéd as the mythical swamp creature found only in children’s storybooks or travel brochures?

Perhaps as Henry Rankine, of the Ngarrindjeri tribe in South Australia, proposes in Robert Holden’s 2001 book ‘Bunyips, Australia’s Folklore of Fear’:

‘So the Bunyip (the Mulgewongk) he is still in our Dreamings. He is still there today, just like we have fast jets in the sky, we still have got that fellow in the river’.

Through the opportunity provided by the Creative Fellowship, I had hoped to build upon preliminary research highlighted in my PhD[i] by engaging with the National Library’s substantial collection of material on the bunyip. I had intended to build a visual and textual resource to underpin my development of an alternative concept of the bunyip.

Ultimately this work would form the basis of creative visual narratives that are intended to challenge, re-imagine and re-establish a sense of wonder and respect for this arcane, sublime phenomenon.

 

Koolunga Bunyip

Victoria Cooper’s artists book “Koolunga Bunyip” 2007 collected by the National Library

 

The Project Continues:

Strongly guided by the contemporary theory of Solastalgia[ii], both Doug and I plan to continue this research as an integral part of our individual and collaborative practice. Our Nocturne Projects and many bookworks are created in response to the current issues of living with this transforming human/nature relationship.

 

 

 

[i] My research project, I have witnessed a strange river, can be found online at James Cook University research online site: http://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/31799/

[ii] Solastalgia: the distress caused by environmental change

Glenn Albrecht , Gina-Maree Sartore, Linda Connor, Nick Higginbotham, Sonia Freeman, Brian Kelly, Helen Stain, Anne Tonna, Georgia Pollard 
Australasian Psychiatry 
Vol. 15, Iss. sup1, 2007

 

Written by Cooper+Spowart

November 29, 2015 at 2:22 pm

PERFORMING the BOOK @ SLQ – Siganto Artists Book Seminar

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The Siganto Artists’ Books Seminar 2015

On June 20+21 the 2015 The Siganto Artists’ Books Seminar took place at the State Library of Queensland. Attendees were presented with a one–day series of lectures, performances and a forum addressing the diversity of the artists’ book and importantly visual and creative research being undertaken by Fellowships supported by the Siganto Foundation.

State Librarian Janette Wright welcomes guests to the seminar

State Librarian Janette Wright welcomes attendees to the seminar

The State Librarian Jeanette, introduced by MC Christene Drewe, spoke of the Library’s Artists’ Book Collection. This was followed by Dr Marie Siganto from the Siganto Foundation who spoke enthusiastically about the Foundation’s support of the Artists’ Book Collection.

Siganto Seminar and Artists' Book Fair - June 20+21, 2015

Dr Marie Siganto makes a presentation to the attendees of the seminar and presents 2015 Fellowships

A significant theme of this years’ event was based around the idea of artists’ books as performance. Brazilian artist, performer and academic Amir Brito Cadôr’s presented his keynote address The Book as Performance – he also performed a book reading of Momento Vital by Brazilian artist Vera Chaves Barcellos.

Amir Brito Cadôr makes his keynote presentation

Amir Brito Cadôr makes his keynote presentation

In the morning session 2015 Siganto Foundation Artists’ Books Fellows Clyde McGill and Julie Barratt presented progress reports on their research projects. Jan Davis discussed her 2014 Creative Fellowship and presented the completed artists’ book to the Library. The book was entitled Drawing on the ground and referenced the historical aspects of work and toil on Queensland farms. Reference material for Jan’s book came from diaries, books and documents held by the Library. Her artists’ book features text fragments and line sketches – the book was bound by Fred Pohlman and the cover was styled to resemble an old station journal.

Julie Barratt discusses her Siganto Creative Fellowship

Julie Barratt discusses her Siganto Creative Fellowship

Clyde McGill discusses his Siganto Artists' Book Creative Fellowship

Clyde McGill discusses his Siganto Artists’ Book Creative Fellowship

Jan Davis discusses her Siganto Artists' Book Creative Fellowship

Jan Davis discusses Drawing on the ground, her Siganto Artists’ Book Creative Fellowship

Doug Spowart discusses Jacob Raupach's Radiata

Doug Spowart discusses Jacob Raupach’s Radiata

As the 2014 Siganto Artists’ Books Research Fellow I presented an illustrated lecture on my experiences as a researcher of the Australian Library of Art, a selection of the range of books I encountered that employed photography from very minor references in text to conceptual pieces based on photographs. This list included:

Anne Wilson in, Tock 01-01-2000, 2000

Codex Event: Darren Bryant .. [et al.], Wild Cherry Tin Mine, 2006.

Vince Dziekian, Blooms Books, 1993-4.

Barbara Davidson, Different moods of the Opera House, 2001.

Felipe Ehrenberg, Generacion 1973

Peter Kingston, The Blue Mountains, 1987.

Michael Buhler, Oblique Lines, 19-.

William Copley Notes on a Project for a Dictionary of Rediculous Images, 1972.

Adam Broomberg + Oliver Chanarin, Holy Bible, 2013.

Judy Barrass, Eden-Monaro in Summer, 2001.

Juli Haas, The oyster book of lessons from the memory room, 2007.

Jihad Muhammad aka John Armstrong, Ten menhirs at Plouharnel, Carnac, Morbihan, Bretagne, France, 1982.

Angela Callanan, 7 Signs of Absence, 2010.

Susan King, Photo bio, 2011.

Malcolm Enright, Western Wisdom, 1998.

Pierre Cavalan, Artists Book, 1998.

Compiled by Kay Faulkner Indulge, 2006.

Debra Gibson, Kamikaze, 2004.

Dick Jewell, Found Photos, 1977.

Julie Barratt, Collateral damage, 2008.

Alison Knowles, Bread and Water, 2004.

David King, Raw deal, 1997.

Valerie Keenan HY1, 2001.

Tim Johnson, Fittings, 1972.

Christian Boltanski, Scratch, 2002.

Amanda Watson-Will, Judy and the Jacaranda, 2010.

Phillip Zimmerman, High tension, 1993.

Jan Davis, Solomon, 1995.

  I then disclosed the principal research product the paper: The artists’ book, the photobook and the photo-a spectral approach, as well as recommendations to the Library for photobooks to be relocated from the General collection into places that reflected the significance of these books in the history of photography and the photobook. I also supplied Photobook Publishers and Info URLs that could be used by anyone wanting to keep up with new photobook releases an purchasing opportunities. I particularly noted that the Library held no Trent Parke books and provided, as an example, his book Dream Life that could have been purchased in 2000 for around $60 is now sold for $1,000+. Highlighting the need for the SLQ to be pro-active in purchasing contemporary book for modest outlay – rather than waiting until they are nearly unaffordable. I also highlighted the need for institutions to engage with and maintain links with artists’ book and photobook self-publishers as they exist outside of the usual publishing structures. I quoted Des Cowley, the State Library of Victoria’s History of the Book Manager from a statement made by him in his presentation at the ‘Other Photobook’ forum at Photobook Melbourne. He said:

… It is therefore incumbent upon staff in these institutions to build networks and relationships with the communities creating this work in order to be informed about what is being produced, and to ensure this material is acquired and preserved for future researchers.  

My presentation concluded with two quotes from book artist and mail art aficionado Ulises Carrion that I felt related to the contemporary artists’ book and photobook. Carrion states:

I include books in the category of

living creatures … : they grow, reproduce, change colour, become ill and finally die.

At this moment we are witnessing the final stage of this process.

… if books are to survive they have to change. And [artists’] bookworks is the real possibility that books have for survival.

Schraenen, G. (1992). Ulises Carrion : We have won! Haven’t we?

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HERE IS THE SLQ VIDEO OF THE SIGANTO FELLOW’S PRESENTATIONS

http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/audio-video/webcasts/recent-webcasts/siganto-artists-books-seminar-2015-session-2

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Other artists’ book performances included: Virginia and Julie Barratt’s The Morning After, one by Clyde McGill and a performance by QUT drama students of the three-part book Robert Bringhurst’s artist’s book New World Suite number three: a poem in four movements for three voices. The performers were Thomas Yaxley, Emily Weir and Meghan Clarke and was directed by QUT lecturer Floyd Kennedy.

Clyde McGill performs his book

Clyde McGill performs his book

The afternoon concluded with a forum moderated by Louise Martin-Chew on the topic of collaboration. The forum participants were Clyde McGill, Julie Barratt and Doug Spowart. Each participant discussed a project that involved collaboration and questions were posed by Louise to bring out important points from each panelist. The most interesting aspect of this forum was when questions from the floor created heated debate around the idea of the physical book and its experience verses the virtual online experience.

Julie answers a question in the collaboration forum

Julie answers a question in the collaboration forum

On Sunday many local and interstate stallholders presented their work for an Artists’ Book Fair in the Knowledge Walk at the SLQ. Tours of selected artists’ books from State Library’s Artists’ Book Collection were well attended and provide rare access to special books from the Australian Library of Art Collection. The two-day event was significant for the opportunity for artists’ book aficiandos, makers, collectors and readers to engage with the physicality of not only the books but also to touch with the extensive community of the book. Our thanks must go to the SLQ, particularly Christene Drewe and Helen Cole, and to the Dr Marie Siganto and the Siganto Foundation for their continued support of the artists’ book collection of the Australian Library of Art and events such as these.   Doug Spowart

State Librarian, Janette Wright views a tunnel book by Wim de voss

State Librarian, Janette Wright views a tunnel book by Wim de Voss

What follows are a range of images from the Seminar and Artists’ Book Fair

Tim Mosely promotes the ABBE Conference @ QCA in July

Tim Mosely promotes the ABBE Conference @ QCA in July

Sue Poggioli at the Artists' Book Fair

Sue Poggioli at the Artists’ Book Fair

Amir and Noreen Grahame

Amir and Noreen Grahame

Julie Barratt at the Artists' Book Fair

Julie Barratt at the Artists’ Book Fair

Julie Barratt, Monica Oppen and Helen Cole Artists' Book Fair

Julie Barratt, Monica Oppen and Helen Cole Artists’ Book Fair

A section of the Artists' Book Fair at the SLQ

A section of the Artists’ Book Fair at the SLQ

Doug Spowart and Wim de Voss

Doug Spowart and Wim de Voss

Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper and their C.R.A.P. display

Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper and their C.R.A.P. display

Clyde McGill and Anne Kirker

Clyde McGill and Anne Kirker

Helen Malone at the Artists' Book Fair

Helen Malone at the Artists’ Book Fair

Helen Cole, Michael Wardell and Clyde McGill at the Artists' Book Fair

Helen Cole, Michael Wardell and Clyde McGill at the Artists’ Book Fair

Sandra Pearce at the Artists' Book Fair

Sandra Pearce at the Artists’ Book Fair

Amir Brito Cadôr with Helen Malone

Amir Brito Cadôr with Helen Malone

Amir Brito Cadôr with Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart

Amir Brito Cadôr with Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart

Adele Outteridge and Wim de Voss

Adele Outteridge and Wim de Voss

Judy Bourke at the Artists' Book Fair

Judy Bourke at the Artists’ Book Fair

Presented by SLQ with the generous support of the Siganto Foundation.   All photos and text ©2015 Doug Spowart

BOOKEND: Photobook Melbourne — what a read?

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Peter Lyssiotis looking at an Aperture Book

Peter Lyssiotis looking at an Aperture Book

 

We all know that feeling when you are really getting into a book, its narrative and flow, and then you reach the point where, as the last page is turned, you wish it could go on, and on… Photobook Melbourne (PM) was something of that kind of experience. The books seen, perhaps around 300, the exhibitions seen, and the people met now all vividly reside in memory and digital capture code.

 

The Photobook Melbourne event took place between February 12 to 22 it was coordinated by Heidi Romano and Daniel Boetker-Smith. It was always an ambitious undertaking. Its vision was to connect international photobook world with makers and lovers of the book from around Australia… and New Zealand. This was achieved through numerous exhibitions, library displays, photobook awards, forums and workshops.

Daniel Boetker-Smith + Heidi Romano  PHOTO:  Lauren Dunn www.artdocumentation.com.au

Daniel Boetker-Smith + Heidi Romano PHOTO: Courtesy of Lauren Dunn www.artdocumentation.com.au

 

Photobook Melbourne can only be described as a massive success. The photobook community of practice needs events like these so they can band together to affirm their interest and belief in the importance and creative power of the photobook. For once, the world of photobooks has come to us, or at least Melbourne, and for that we are a stronger and more informed cohort of makers, readers, collectors and lovers of photobooks.

 

Some of the attendees have responded to a request for comments – others are posts from Blogs and Facebook posts…

 

FROM JACOB RAUPACH: Photobook Melbourne was an amazing week full of a genuinely insightful mix of talks, exhibitions and book exhibitions, with the fair during the first weekend proving to be a great networking point for the rest of the week that followed. …  I felt that the inaugural festival set an amazing benchmark for the following years! Looking forward to 2016.

FROM HARVEY BENGE‘s BLOG: On a zero to ten scale I’d give the festival a ten!  Visit his site for more commentaries about photobook

FROM CHRIS BOWES: For someone naïve to the world of photobooks, Photobook Melbourne was an eye opening experience. Although coming in as a virtual outsider to this rapidly expanding art scene, I sank my teeth into as many of the talks, exhibitions and book collections I could manage, and came away a lot more informed than I was going in. Personal favourites were the Paris Photo – Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards exhibition, where the content of the books was engaging and the calibre unmatched, and ‘The Other Photobook Forum’, where in particular Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison showed that with a little creativity and business sense one can make a buck and do what they love.

FROM LIBBY JEFFERYMomento Pro: The number of participants, visitors, books and buyers at Photobook Melbourne were fantastic and they confirmed that small press and self publishing is alive and well in Australia. The Awards and Book Fair also proved that a selection of high standard work is being created here, but a collaborative promotion and showcase of Australian photo books to the global market would benefit everyone.

FROM: ANGEL LUIS GONZALEZ FERNANDEZ  Facebook Comment     Back in Dublin after an amazing first edition of PHOTOBOOK MELBOURNE, having discovered tons of new work and books from Australia, New Zealand, and more -and having met a truckload of awesome people.

FROM KELVIN SKEWES: As someone that attended almost all of the events that were part of Photobook Melbourne I can only describe it as a tour de force for lovers of the Photobook. The festival opened on February 12th at the Centre for Contemporary Photography with Robert Zhao Renhui’s exhibition

A Guide To The Flora And Fauna Of The World and with a smoking ceremony by the traditional owners to welcome the festival to their land. Also announced on the opening night was the Australian Photobook of the year which was won by Raphaela Rosella for her unpublished book ‘We Met a Little Early But I Get to Love You Longer’ and I was humbled to be the runner up with my newspaper as photobook ‘Nauru: What was taken and what was given’. …

The main event for the first weekend of the festival was the Photobook Melbourne Book fair at CCP an event at was full of frenetic energy and far too many photobooks to browse let alone buy; amongst the many booksellers highlights included the infatigable Perimeter book with titles from Mack and Spector books and Anita Totha from Remote books who is doing to sterling job promoting photobooks from New Zealand. …

 Great thanks are due to the entire Photobook Melbourne team so thank you Heidi Romeo, Daniel Boetker-Smith, esteemed guests Ángel Luis González Fernández, Ron Jude and the Dysturb Photo Collective, festival partners and sponsors Momento Pro, Photography Studies College, Copyright Agency and venues CCP, MGA, Strange Neighbour, Colour Factory, Neo Space, Baron Said and James Makin Gallery and to all the volunteers without whom this could not have happened so thanks to Felix Wilson, Kate Robinson, Bella Capezio, Katrin Koenning and countless others.

See you next year!

MORE COMMENTS WILL BE ADDED AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE…

 

WHAT FOLLOWS IS A PERSONAL DIARY OF PHOTOBOOK MELBOURNE

 

Our arrival on the first weekend was delayed by my recent medical incursion so we fly into Melbourne on Wednesday. Through a friend we were able to stay in an apartment right in the middle of the city and our journeys out and about were by tram, train and lifts given by friends.

 

The MGA - The Home of Australian Photography

The MGA – The Home of Australian Photography

THURSDAY: We attended two book related exhibitions at the Monash Gallery of Art. Badged as the ‘Home of Australian Photography’ the gallery presented two photobook exhibitions, one of images from the collection that featured the theme of books and reading and was entitled ‘Light Reading’. The other was The Natural Collection an assemblage of books by The Photobook Club’s Matt Johnston and co-curated by Lucy Johnson. The Natural Collection brings together photobooks that explore “the harmony, tension and play” that occurs in the human relationship with nature and the natural landscape.

Heidi, Steph and Vicky discussing a book

Heidi, Steph and Vicky discussing a book

The exhibition space was setup for readers to sit and work their way through a most interesting selection of Euro/American centric responses to the theme. Grand trade books sat next to simple fold ‘n’ staple zine-like booklets. We were there with Heidi Romano, Simone Rosenbauer from Sydney and MGA Gallery’s Education and Public Programs officer Stephanie Richter. We engaged in a spirited debate about book design; production methods and how to evaluate books.

That evening we attend a dinner for PM speakers, contributors, supporters and sponsors. By this stage it was acknowledged that the PM had been an enormous success so congratulatory statements were announced and a great feeling of an Australian photobook community being well and truly launched by this event.

Bohemian Vicky+Doug

Bohemian Vicky+Doug

Bohemian Melbourne portrait wall

Bohemian Melbourne portrait wall

Bohemian Melbourne

Bohemian Melbourne

FRIDAY MORNING: A breakfast of avocado, bacon and relish was partaken at a suburban street café while being interviewed by Australian Photography contributor Anthony McKee for a feature on photobooks. Morning tea with Robert Heather and Des Cowley at the State Library of Victoria and a visit to the SLV exhibition Bohemian Melbourne – a fascinating reflection on the creative, musical and arty sub-culture of Melbourne. Rennie Ellis’ photos contributed much to this history as well as poster art, paintings and the ephemera and memorabilia of the different eras represented by the theme.

 

The Library Project @ PSC

The Library Project @ PSC

FRIDAY AFTERNOON: We visited Photography Studies College to view ‘The Library Project’, a collection of photobooks brought to PM by Ángel Luis González Fernández from PhotoIreland. ‘The Library Project’ aim is to collect contemporary publications based on photography to create a public resource library. We viewed many books that are not easily available to see in Australia including Cristina de Middel’s Afronauts.

 

The 'OTHER' Photobook Forum – a question from the floor

The ‘OTHER’ Photobook Forum – a question from the floor

FRIDAY EVENING: Later that evening we were involved with The ‘OTHER’ Photobook Forum – Artists’ Books, Zinesters and the Photobook took place. We have been working on this project for a couple of months now and we were able to bring together key practitioners from these ‘other’ photobook disciplines who discussed and provided commentary on their use of the photo in the book. The participants included photomonteur Peter Lyssiotis, zinesters Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, artists’ book maker Dr Lyn Ashby, Des Cowley from the State Library of Victoria and Victoria Cooper who stood in for Georgia Hutchison who was unable to attend due to extenuating family issues.

It was an event that stirred much interest with artists like Deanna Hitti and Theo Strasser attending as well as Momento Pros’ Libby Jeffery, and photobook makers Kelvin Skewes, Daniel Boetker-Smith and Chris Bowes.

 

Jacob Raupach @ CCP

Jacob Raupach @ CCP

Aperture Books on display @ The Baron Said

Aperture Books on display @ The Baron Said

SATURDAY: A day to attend artists talks at the Centre for Creative Photography by, amongst others photobookmaker Jacob Raupach and the exhibition FELL – Bought a copy of his latest book WEALTH. Following up with visits to the Momento Pro Australian Photo Book of the Year Award at the Asia Pacific Photobook Archive and the Aperture Photobook exhibition @ The Baron Said and a stimulating lunch with Peter and Tess Lyssiotis @Babkah.

Lunch with Tess + Peter

Lunch with Tess + Peter

Photobooked-out we headed back to the city by tram and had a chance meeting with Lismore artist and Siganto Artists Book Fellow Jan Davis who was attending a Print Council meeting – Only in Melbourne could strange intersections like that could happen.

 

SATURDAY EVENING: Melbourne White Night event

450,000 Melbournians took over the streets of the CBD – everything stayed open and performances and projections, bands and music were everywhere. Amongst other things we went to see the projections in the Dome at the State Library of Victoria at 10.30 at night – queued in line for 30 minutes with 1000s of others what a night…!

 

SUNDAY

A day of traveling home to cyclone weather drenched Brisbane.

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME —- For PHOTOBOOK MELBOURNE 2nd EDITION….

 

DOING IT BY THE BOOK: Judging the 2015 Momento Pro Australian Photo Book Awards

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The finalists stack

 

 

On the 30th of January six identities from the Australian publishing and photography scene gathered in Sydney to review a selection of the best photo books from Australian authors and to select a recipient for the title Momento Pro Australian Photo Book of the Year. Prior to this event 100 books had been submitted in the award by Australian photographers working in a wide range of book forms that employ photography.

 

The judges for the award were: Shaune Lakin (Curator of Photography @ National Gallery Of Australia), Diana Hill [Publisher @ Murdoch Books), Sonya Jeffery (Books at Manic), Kim Hungerford (Art and Design Consultant and Buyer @ Kinokuniya), Michael Howard (Joint Art Director @ Sydney Morning Herald) and Doug Spowart (Research Fellow – Australian Library of Art, State Library of Queensland).

 

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The judges deliberating    PHOTO: Doug Spowart

 

The process started 10 days earlier when the judges were sent a USB drive containing the 100 PDF files. Within a few days the judges were to review the files and select their top 12 books. These results where then collated by the Momento Pro team to give 15 finalists. They were:

  • Gold Coast                                          Ying Ang
  • Nonna to Nana                                  Jessie + Jacqueline DiBlasi
  • Typhoon                                             Stephen Dupont
  • Better Half                                         Jackson Eaton
  • Lover of Home                                   Odette England
  • The Beginning                                    Brendan Esposito
  • The Kings of KKH                              Andrea Francolini
  • Bedrooms of the Fallen                     Ashley Gilbertson
  • Tribal PNG                                         David Kirkland
  • In the Folds of Hills                           Kristian Laemmle-Ruff
  • Don’t Just Tell Them, Show Them    Jesse Marlow
  • SALT                                                  Emma Phillips
  • Nauru: What was taken and what was given   Kelvin Skewes
  • We Met a Little Early But I Get to Love You Longer Raphaela Rosella.
  • Fibro Dreams                                    Glenn Sloggett

Of these finalists, one book was published by an academic institution, three were published through an independent publisher and two were unpublished – the remaining books were self-published. The diversity of subject matter covered by the books included a portraiture and documentary cookbook, ethnographic documentary, social documentary, conceptual projects about human relationships of place and memory, books about irony and humour or glimpsed juxtapositions of subjects seen and photographed in the street. The books mainly fitted the conventional codex model and were trade printed and bound. One ‘photo book’ was a newspaper styled publication, and another was a deluxe artists’ book laparello of an exceptionally large size.

 

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More debating … PHOTOS: Doug Spowart

 

As the judges came together at the Momento Pro facility in Chippendale they introduced themselves and participated in briefings conducted by Chairman of Jurors Heidi Romano, Director of Photo Book Melbourne and Libby Jeffery from the award sponsor Momento Pro. Then each judge engaged with the books – turning pages, cracking spines, smelling paper and inks, looking, reading, touching and connecting with the narrative and the experience that each book may contain. As all books were originally seen as digital images on screen there were some surprises as the digital version presented quite different experience to the physical printed book.

At this time individual conversations took place, ideas and responses to books shared. Opinions about photo books expressed and probed. Some of the key discussion points related to questions like ‘What is a photo book?’, and the validity of certain book topics and forms like cookbooks, newspapers, grand artists’ book productions – were they able to be considered as photo books? This part of the process was useful as it enabled a range of ideas to emerge from the broad views and experience of the judging panel.

The six judges then gathered around a large table – each book was presented for discussion at the end of which a vote was made as to whether it would be held-over in a ‘for further consideration’ stack or not. The discussions enabled each judge to express their experience of the book, opinions about narrative, sequencing, design and typography, production values as well as how the books ‘fitted’ with the idea of the photo book. One interesting consideration was the suitability of the book’s format, design and structure as a container to hold and present the narrative.

Some of the other discussion points that emerged included:

  • A trend which is emerging where the cover of the book has no photograph on it or minimal text to identify it;
  • The absence of the author’s name on the cover of the book;
  • The length of the book – many books the judges felt were just too long;
  • The editing and sequencing of images – many judges felt that they’d like to have done a review of the book to give an opportunity for the great photos and story to be more effectively told;
  • Texts within books need quality editing as well;
  • Aspects of book size and binding – a concern was ‘whether the physical nature of the book gets in the way of its storytelling potential’;
  • Design features that do not support the narrative; and
  • Ethics in documentary photography in relation to what level of personal information about the subject is OK to disclose in a book.

As a result of this judging segment the 15 finalists were reduced to six books. These books were interrogated further with particular attention being paid to the expectation that a great photo book should create, as it is activated by the viewer/reader, a moment where the book’s design, photographs, texts, layout, sequencing all combine to express a powerful statement, narrative or emotional response.

Of these six books selected Heidi Romano was to comment that ‘they were equal to any of the world’s current great photo books’. One final review and discussion needed to follow to select the ultimate title winner. This was preceded with discussion regarding the message that awards like these make to the photo book community about what constitutes exemplary work. The participating judges recognized the importance of this aspect of the final award selection. Ultimately all of the books were given highly commended awards with Kelvin Skewes’ Nauru: What was taken and what was given being awarded the title of Runner Up. First prize was awarded to Raphaela Rosella’s We Met a Little Early But I Get to Love You Longer book. Although unpublished the book had been printed and bound by the Momento Pro team to the author’s specifications. It featured personal narratives written by young mothers, the design and page-turning/text sequencing, powerful imagery and the inclusion of personal notes and letters extended the story and loaded the emotional response potential for the viewer.

 

Rossellas book

We Met a Little Early But I Get to Love You Longer Raphaela Rosella

Images and words from this book are available HERE

 

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Nauru: What was taken and what was given Kelvin Skewes

The details of this book are available HERE

MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOKS AND JUDGES COMMENTS ARE AVAILABLE HERE

The award winners receive:

Winner – $1,500 cash + $8,000 Momento Pro credit

Runner Up – $1,500 Momento Pro credit

People’s Choice – $500 Momento Pro credit

An additional award will be the ‘peoples choice’ from votes received during the exhibition of the books at the Asia Pacific Photobook Archive at the Photo Book Melbourne event.

This award helps to define what great Australian photobooks can be is and has rewarded great Australian photobooks. Additionally it will continue to fuel commentary and debate around the nature of the practice in Australia and serve to extend interest in and recognition of the discipline and the practitioners of the discipline in Australia.

 

Doug Spowart

February 12, 2015

 

 

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