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Father’s Day: A remembrance in an art project

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Father’s Day 2020 – Thinking of our Dads

 

In 2010 artist, and then gallerist, Julie Barratt put out a call for artworks that asked artists to respond about their Fathers and their passing.

The request from Julie Barratt is as follows:

This project was borne out of the recent sudden death of my father, a handkerchief, some emotive words written by a sibling on his death and the traumatic aftermath of a death processed according to particular societal and cultural mores. Interested artists and Individuals are invited to create an artwork on a handkerchief (any handkerchief not necessarily a man’s) based around death/grief/bereavement.

We reflected on our connection with our Fathers and created artworks using the cyanotype process.

 

Doug’s Hankie

The WHITE KNIGHT – for Merv by Doug Spowart

 

MERV: The White Knight

 My father was an electrician for around sixty years. He always wore King Gee white overalls—even when we went on holidays.

Ever ready to help someone in need he would dash off at a moment’s notice—even when the family organised an outing on the weekend we would always fit in another job along the way.

Over the years he helped many an electrically troubled soul so we, his family, dubbed him the nickname – “The white knight”.

 

 

Victoria’s Hankie

Dad’ll do it – for Reg by Victoria Cooper

 

Dad’ll do it

I remember that he always tied knots in his hankie to keep it in place on his head and to soak up the sweat when he was working on things around the home. He had lived in this home (in the photo) for most of his life except for the time he was in Papua New Guinea for WW2 and shorter periods of time in other places. Over the years he adapted and renovated this home to suit the changing needs of the family.

 

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Barratt Gallery Invite

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The exhibition was shown at Barratt Gallery at Alstonville and Napier Gallery Melbourne

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A post about the exhibition can be found HERE

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ARTISTS SURVEY #23: Artists in Pandemic Isolation

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Artists Survey #23 Composite

 

ARTISTS HAVE ALWAYS ADAPTED TO AND EMBRACED CHANGE IN CHALLENGING TIMES OFTEN WORKING IN ISOLATION. Nearing the end of their artists in residence in Finland, Australian artist Julie Barratt and Argentinian photographer Solange Baques found themselves stranded on the other side of a pandemic stricken world. Concerned for their friend and colleague, Cooper and Spowart  connected with Barratt and proposed the concept of a collaborative Artists Survey book project to present the artists’ experiences during the COVID-19 enforced isolation.

This small book compilation is published by the Centre for Regional Arts Practice is the result of the collaboration. It is a small gesture to bridge the vast physical and psychological distance that this pandemic has engendered.

Here is the story of Artists Survey #23: Artists in Pandemic Isolation project.

 

THE BACKSTORY TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF THE ARTISTS SURVEY

The Centre for Regional Arts Practice (acronym C.R.A.P.) was founded in 2007 during an artist in residence at Arthur Boyd’s Bundanon property near Nowra on the NSW south coast. As artists’ bookmakers, we saw the opportunity to produce a democratic multiple publication to present our perspective on regional artist experience and to develop C.R.A.P. manifestoes.

All of our C.R.A.P. Artists Survey books draw upon humour and irony of the prosaic routines and events encountered in life of a regional artist. These publications are usually produced in editions of 25 with 5 artist’s proofs. They are humble handmade books which are sold to collectors and institutions – most are given away to friends and peers.

Some early C.R.A.P. Artists Survey books

The C.R.A.P. and its Artists Surveys have become a vehicle for highlighting, critiquing and questioning many issues both local and global affecting regional artists. The 23 editions to date have included topics such as Swine Flu, The Global Financial Crisis and Global warming. On seven occasions collaborative Artists Survey books have been created with a regional artists.

In late March we witnessed Julie Barratt’s situation as a participation in an artist’s residency in regional Finland. At that time the viral pandemic was closing the world down and cutting off homeward travel with airlines grounded. Though Julie seemed unphased we thought our shared isolation experiences could be an important commentary on these times. So we suggested to Julie our idea of a C.R.A.P. Artists Survey book about Covid-19 isolation and she agreed enthusiastically. Within a a short time Julie’s compatriot in isolation – Argentinian photographer Solange joined the project.

Screen snaps of Facebook group meetings

We formed a Facebook group and held online meetings to talk over the concepts, we shared work, discussed design ideas and quickly our isolation had a creative purpose. We are excited to share our stories with you …

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS SURVEY #23

The Artists Survey project culminated in a book of 6 elements:

  • An introduction booklet
  • 2 works from Solange Baques (1) An image from her ‘Through the window project, and (2) a small piece of Finnish soap enclosed in a stitched holder accompanied by messages about anti COVID-19 hand washing techniques.
  • An original Polaroid image made by Julie Barratt in a stitched folder made at the residency with red thread used by Julie in some of her performance work.
  • A collaborative concertina book by Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart.
  • All the elements are enclosed in a special folder cover designed and handmade by Doug Spowart with the support of Victoria Cooper

 

Size of the book: 15 x 10.5 x 2cm
Media: Various art papers, inkjet on photo paper, a Polaroid photograph, a soap shard, a plastic enclosure, various threads and cords
Design and printing: Doug Spowart of cover, intro booklet and other elements
Fabrication: The artists
Edition: 40
Published by: The Centre for Regional Arts Practice
PRICE: $100 + $25 Delivery in Australia (p&p)
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COVER Open with INTRO Booklet

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A PDF COPY OF THE INTRO BOOKLET CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE: ARTIST Survey 23 INTRO Book Aug 21

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The video link is:
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SOLANGE BAQUES: is an Argentinean photographer born in Buenos Aires city. In her work she explores identities through memories and family albums. Her images are intimate and subtle.

Solange Baques and her two works

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Solange arrived in Finland on March 2nd to participate in the program “Silence Awareness Existence” as an artist in residency with 13 fellow artists at the Arteles Creative Center, which is located in a rural area near Tampere. Her project was to include visiting Valmet Oy plant and doing some research on the pulp and paper industry but due to the lockdown, this was not possible.

Within a short time of the growing worldwide shutdown of entry to countries 10 of the 13 artists in residency left Finland to return to their home countries. However by March 16 three remained.

Through the Window images included in this collaborative artists’ book was born as a part of the self-isolation program at Arteles Creative Center.

Solange was not able to return home due to the Argentine borders being closed and the only planes allowed to bring back Argentineans being those of Aerolíneas Argentinas. Around the world there were more than 20,000 citizens trying to get home with only 400 people allowed to arrive every day. On May 9th she was finally able to leave Finland and made it back to Argentina on May 11 and out of quarantine to her family on May 25!

 

 

JULIE BARRATT: is an Australian visual artist and arts producer whose mixed media practice encompasses printmaking, photography, artist books, installation and performance.

Julie Barratt and her Polaroid print + folder

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Julie arrived at the Arteles Creative Center in the beginning of March for a 1-month residency. As the worldwide lockdowns were initiated she experienced difficulty in getting flights back to Australia and her residency became an extended period of creative production.

Having this extra period of time in rural Finland has kept Julie just about as far from the grips of Covid-19 as you can imagine. And being distant from family and friends having little access to the Internet or the outside world for that matter was quite surreal!

Although she arrived without a clear project in mind Julie’s work became a visual diary of this period of isolation rendered through the mediums of photography, stitching, mixed media and hand stamping. This work in this collaborative artists’ book made with unique state Polaroid photographs relates to her experience of spending the Covid-19 period of isolation far from home in rural Finland!

By the 4th May she was still there! Cancelled flights, border closures and local transport collapses meant that options for getting home are all but non-existent. Finally Julie was able to get a direct flight from Helsinki to Sydney on May 10. On her arrival in Sydney she was escorted by Federal Police and Army personnel to 2 weeks forced isolation in a Melbourne hotel. She arrived home in Rockhampton on May 24!

 

COOPER+SPOWART

Cooper+Spowart collaborative book

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VICTORIA COOPER:

Victoria’s early career in science and microbiology is influential in much of her arts practice. Engaged in experimental photographic processes from pinhole to digital photomontage, she creates visual narratives, in the physical form of the book, exploring the human-non-human relationships of Place.

I began with energy for our collaboration across the ISO CO-void… This seemed a good time to explore new work informed by my past experience with pathogenic microorganisms. But I was unsettled in this COVID space — challenged by the consequences of being in familiar places that now were significantly altered by unseen entities. Continuity of creative thought was becoming increasingly more difficult under the existential struggle as sharp highs and lows destabilized every aspect of daily life.

During this time I utilised the social space of Instagram to break away from the silence of isolation. I captured and collected moments as they presented themselves and then instantly shared their potential to evoke memories and dreams with others. Over the next few weeks, my Instagram archive of isolated and unconnected fragments grew into a poetic narrative.

In this collaborative book with Doug there is no intended theme, our Instagram images present the fractured moments of our shifting altered reality.

 

DOUG SPOWART: is an Australian visual artist with a multi-media practice.

About 5 years ago Victoria Cooper and I sold our home in Toowoomba and headed out onto the road in search of a new place to live, work opportunities and to connect with friends and our extensive professional networks.

In early March we were on the beach in northern NSW and were planning our next foray into the real estate scene in Victoria. We were just about to head south when we recognised that the expanding threat of Covid-19 was something that could not be taken lightly.

Considering our options we decided to head back to the familiar location of Toowoomba. Our doctor is there, we have family there and importantly we have storage sheds with our art, library and personal effects. We saw isolation as presenting an opportunity to review and downsize our stored possessions.

Within a week we were back in Toowoomba and had viewed possible rental units, made a selection and had paid the first rental instalment.

My contribution to this project is a collaborative concertina book made with Victoria which features photographs made our first isolation period – it is entitled Fractured moments and small glimpses.

 

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OTHER STORIES ABOUT C.R.A.P. ARTISTS SURVEYS can be found at the links below:

Artists Survey Flash Mob Grafton

https://wotwedid.com/2013/09/23/artists-book-flash-mob-create-collaborative-artists-survey-book/

 

Artists Survey #19

https://wotwedid.com/2018/08/09/a-book-a-collaboration-time-19-artist-survey-book/

 

 

 

WOTWEDID BLOG CELEBRATES 100,000 VIEWS

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100K Header

 

Our www.wotwedid.com blog reached the milestone of 1000,000 views last week. It has had 56,000 visitors who have had the opportunity to view 380 posts and read around 250K words and see the hundreds of photographs that we have made to compliment the stories.

 

Our wotwedid Blog was started nine years ago as an opportunity to connect with our friends and creative communities via social media. The topic cloud for the wotwedid Blog includes ARTISTS’ BOOKS, PHOTBOOKS, CAMERA OBSCURA, EXHIBITIONS, MEETING PEOPLE, THE ART AND PRACTICE OF PHOTOGRAPHY, REGIONAL ARTS, CYANOTYPES, PLACE PROJECTS and POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCH.

 

Topic cloud wotwedid

 

Usually the content that we post is generated by us and includes the written commentaries, the photographs and illustrations – it can be quite a lengthy time consuming task to get a blog up.

While many posts relate to what we do, have done or will be doing, the Blog represents a chronology of activity in our art practice, our lives and issues that we are concerned about. Due to the contemporary space that the arts and artists occupy today much activity and many events go unnoticed and unrecorded. So a significant driver is to provide a space for commentary on what is happening outside of the popularist ‘art bubble’.

Early this year we were excited to learn that the State Library of Queensland had nominated wotwedid.com for inclusion in the Pandora Archive managed by the National Library of Australia, ‘to ensure the collection and long-term preservation of online publications relating to Australia and Australians. This objective contributes to the Library’s statutory function to comprehensively collect Australia’s documentary heritage.’

Over the years we have found that many views, screen dumps and downloads of resources we make available take place anonymously without comment or feedback. Then again, we understand that this is the same for most online resources. Despite this we find that as we travel and meet friends, fellow artists, academics and curators many say how much they appreciate and enjoy the content that we generate and post.

So, a BIG Thank You to all have visited … And we look forward to your return to help take www.wotwedid.com to the next milestone – 200,000K views.

 

D+V with masks

Vicky+Doug

PORTRAIT PHOTO: Susan Belperio

Here are some images of people met, events documented and our own art activities over recent years …

©2020 Doug Spowart+Victoria Cooper
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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu
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Our photographs and words are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/au/..

 

 

 

FOUND: A camera obscura in a storage shed box

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An image is found in a packing box

An image is found in a packing box

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So today we were planning a day of shedding in our storage shed. We donned our dust masks and glasses, and cut through the five years of dust on many boxes and began to move our precious things into protective packing boxes.

Just as we were getting into the rhythm of this challenging chore we found something amazing in one of the empty boxes…

From that moment we stopped all work…

What follows is an impromptu document of performance we made in this remarkable image discovery. Found within an ordinary box ­– in a dusty storage shed – somewhere in the rows of storage sheds where we and others store our forgotten treasures…

 

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A video featuring the performance …

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Here are some images and a video on the refinement of the image by using other boxes and a pair of gloves to mask-out the light admitting aperture to around 3cm square.

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A video revealing the storage shed packing box set-up …

 

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OTHER COOPER+SPOWART CAMERA OBSCURA POSTS:

 

A collection of camera obscura works

https://wotwedid.com/2013/10/26/camera-obscura-2000-2020-in-hotels-and-other-places/

 

A porthole camera obscura on the Spirit of Tasmania

https://wotwedid.com/2019/01/11/2018-field-studies-camera-obscura-spirit-of-tasmania-porthole/

 

A gallery camera obscura

https://wotwedid.com/2016/11/14/maud-gallery-camera-obscura-for-one-day-only/

 

Our Tarago CarCamera Obscura

https://wotwedid.com/2016/05/13/ode-to-tarago-carcamera-obscura/

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Until the next obscura reveals itself …

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LYSSIOTIS+COOPER+SPOWART: WE ARE LIBRIS AWARD Finalists

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The LIBRIS AWARDS for Australian Artists Books is on again this year at Artspace Mackay – We are excited to announce that our works, including a Peter Lyssiotis book we collaborated on, have been selected in the 60 finalists. The exhibition is scheduled at Artspace Mackay between 27 June and 13 September 2020.

 

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A statement from the Artspace Director Tracey Heathwood

Since opening its doors in 2003, the gallery has been dedicated in its exploration and support of the artists’ book medium. The Libris Awards play a significant role in showcasing the very latest and best in contemporary artists’ book practice in Australia.

As extraordinary developments continue to unfold in response to Covid19, Artspace Mackay has faced and overcome many challenges presented throughout the year to now be in the final exciting stages of delivering another inspirational exhibition, 2020 Libris Awards: The Australian Artists’ Book Prize.

Despite restrictions beginning to ease across the country, lingering interstate travel constraints prevent our designated 2020 Libris Awards judges, Des Cowley and Robert Heather – who have already completed the challenging job of selecting finalists from an extensive range of artists’ books entries from across the nation – from travelling to Mackay for the final process of selecting winners in the three categories. In these exceptional circumstances, Artspace Mackay Director Tracey Heathwood will complete the final process of selecting this year’s prize winners.

Announcement of 2020 Winners: 4:30pm (AEST) Monday 13 July – Live streamed online via Artspace’s Facebook page.

 

 

HERE ARE THE BOOKS we were involved with :

 

PETER LYSSIOTIS:  WHAT THE MOON LET ME SEE

A collaboration with Victoria Cooper + Doug Spowart who created and optimised pinhole images of Peter’s montage image to accompany his texts.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Peter Lyssiotis: What The Moon Let Me See

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

The narrative of What The Moon Let Me See is a journey. It is also about a father and son and how their lives, and their purposes in life interweave. The journey is to a mountain; it could be Thomas Mann’s ‘Magic Mountain’, it could be the Bible’s Mount Ararat or it might be that mountain you see on the horizon when you look out of your car window as you drive through the country. The father and the son may be Abraham and Isaac or Kafka and his father or the father and son who live next door, or you and your father … the journey they’re on involves making decisions; perhaps the son will release the father, maybe the father will free the son … how do these two people read and map their worlds, how do they refer to the world here and the world beyond them?

 

 

VICTORIA COOPER:  BEING PRESENT

 

 

Victoria Cooper’s BEING PRESENT

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

Being Present has its physical origins from the Bundanon Trust and the Shoalhaven River.

The electron microscopic images come from unexplored work made during an earlier residence in 2007 of collected detritus from the river. The montages were constructed with these microscopic images as interventions into a riparian environment near the property.

The book is informed by the work of notable writers, thinkers and philosophers, Martin Heidegger and Rachel Carson.

 

 

 

DOUG SPOWART:  HOME

 

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Doug Spowart’s book  HOME

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

This book was conceptualised and created during an artist’s residency at Bundanon near Nowra in New South Wales in June 2018. The final design of the book took place in 2019.

For 5 years I have been homeless resulting from the need to travel, seeking work, looking for a place to settle, and maintaining connections with supporting friends and colleagues. The residency enabled inner thoughts to emerge that have been suppressed throughout this time.

Self-imaging is not something new to me. What is new however in this work is the frank reality of the expression, pose and perhaps vulnerability I present in these moments contemplating ‘home’ and what it means to me.

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Libris_Catalogue pic

 

Download a copy of the Catalogue:

LIBRIS_AWARDS-2020_Finalists_Catalogue

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SEE Other WOTWEDID.COM posts about the LIBRIS AWARDS:

Our FINALIST work from the 2018 Awards

https://wotwedid.com/2018/05/27/libris-artists-book-award-cooperspowart-finalists/

A COMMENT on the 2016 Awards

https://wotwedid.com/2016/10/22/covering-the-2016-libris-artists-book-award/

The JUDGE’S VIEW from Helen Cole of the 2013 Awards

https://wotwedid.com/2013/05/13/2013-libris-awards-the-judges-view/

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2020 WORLDWIDE PINHOLE DAY 26 April – Our images

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WPPD2020 – LOGO

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Around the [w]hole world on Sunday April 26, 2020 pinholers were out having fun – Making their images for the 2020 Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.

This year we are hunkered down during the Pandemic in Toowoomba, Queensland Australia. Once again, far away from the darkroom, we’ve fitted a piece of aluminium with a light admitting pin-prick to the body cap of our Olympus Pen camera and braved the parkland at the end of our street. The next day we uploaded our images with a detailed caption to the WPPD website to add to the contributions from Australian pinholers and many more from around the world.

This is the 15th year we have supported the WPD project!

 

WHAT IS WORLDWIDE PINHOLE DAY ALL ABOUT?

From the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day website introduction

All the photographs in this extraordinary collection share two common characteristics: (1) they are lensless photographs (2) they were all made on April 26, 2020.

They also share an additional and less formal characteristic: the sincere enthusiasm of their creators who, by participating in this collective event, shared individual visions and techniques. Hence the amazing diversity of subjects, cameras, techniques and photographic materials combined in this exhibit!

 

Australian WWPD submission @ May3

 

VICTORIA’s PINHOLE IMAGE

Out walking the dog during COVID Isolation PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

ABOUT VICKY’S PINHOLE IMAGE:

Walking in the park as it turns to Autumn … Many people are exercising: walking, running, cycling during our period of isolation for COVID-19. I am grateful that during this terrible time, we are able to slow down and reconnect with what is important in our lives.”

 

 

DOUG’s PINHOLE IMAGE

Doug Spowart’s Stay Home-WPPD-2020

ABOUT DOUG’S PINHOLE IMAGE:

With the world-wide pandemic Covid-19 changing everything signs appear everywhere to remind us to stay vigilant in our resolve to limit community infection. Our local real estate agent has replaced photos of houses for sale with the letters S-T-A-Y H-O-M-E / S-T-A-Y W-E-L-L. Stay healthy everyone…”

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OUR Digi-PINHOLE CAMERA

The Cooper+Spowart digi OLYMPUS PEN with pinhole ...

The Cooper+Spowart digi OLYMPUS PEN with pinhole …

This is a converted digital Olympus Pen, shared with my partner Doug Spowart. The pinhole is a pin pierced hole in aluminium which is inserted into a hole drilled into a body cap. It is a hand held exposure of 1/20th second at ISO 800.”

Our digi-pinhole camera is an OLYMPUS Pen digital. The body cover has been drilled-out and a aluminium foil sheet with pin prick acts as the light emitting ‘hole’. Hand-held exposure 1/20th of a second ISO 800″

 

 

The 2020 WPPD GALLERY DEDICATION:

to Eric Renner who passed away in the USA last month

Self Portrait: Sweatshirt pinhole camera, Arles, 1996, pinhole photograph

Self Portrait: Sweatshirt pinhole camera, Arles, 1996, pinhole photograph, 14″x11″   SOURCE: https://ericrennerphoto.com

 

WPPD 2020 Eric Renner Dedication

WPPD 2020 Eric Renner Dedication

 

VALE ERIC RENNER: Our connection with Eric and partner Nancy Spencer

Eric’s Pinhole Photography book

From early in 1990 Vicky had connected with Eric Renner, partner Nancy Spencer and their Pinhole Resource. We exchanged communications and images showing the work that we were doing in Australia. Eric and Nancy, through their inclusive and generous efforts created a world-wide movement in pinhole photography that continues to grow.

Eric published a body a colour pinhole and zoneplate images from the exhibition Natural Encounter by Vicky in the pinhole journal. Later a collection of Doug’s 4×5 Zoneplate images were also published in the journal.

Over the years we continued to connect and share ideas and some of our work was included in the Focal Press book Pinhole Photography rediscovering a historic technique.  Our work was also included in the Pinhole Resource collection, Poetics of Light exhibition and the accompanying Poetics of Light book at the New Mexico Museum of History.

Pinhole photography is a vibrant and exciting world-wide pinhole community and we are grateful for this legacy that Eric, with Nancy nurtured.

 

There’s a Blog post about the Poetics of Light book and our work in it HERE

 

 

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Other images we made on the day…

 

Visit the WWPD Site for details of other submissions:  http://pinholeday.org/

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Our Past WWPD images:

2019 Doug+Vicky https://wotwedid.com/2019/04/29/2019-worldwide-pinhole-day-28-april-our-images/

2018 Doug+Vicky https://wotwedid.com/2018/04/29/2018-worldwide-pinhole-day-29-april-our-images/

2016 Doug: http://www.pinholeday.org/index.php?id=1235

2016 Vicky: http://www.pinholeday.org/index.php?id=1540

2015  https://wotwedid.com/2015/05/04/april-26-worldwide-pinhole-day-our-contributions-for-2015/

2014  Vicky’s http://pinholeday.org/gallery/2014/index.php?id=1810&City=Toowoomba

2014  Doug’s http://pinholeday.org/gallery/2014/index.php?id=1811&City=Toowoomba

2013   https://wotwedid.com/2013/04/29/world-pinhole-photography-day-our-contribution/

2012   http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2012/index.php?id=1937&searchStr=spowart

2011    http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2011/index.php?id=924

HERE IS THE LINK to the 2011 pinhole video   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk4vnbzTqOU

2010   http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2010/index.php?id=2464&Country=Australia&searchStr=spowart

2006  http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2006/index.php?id=1636&Country=Australia&searchStr=cooper

2004 Vicky  http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2004/index.php?id=1553&Country=Australia&searchStr=cooper

2004 Doug  http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2004/index.php?id=1552&Country=Australia&searchStr=spowart

2003  http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2003/index.php?id=615&Country=Australia&searchStr=spowart

2002  http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2002/index.php?id=826&Country=Australia&searchStr=spowart

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 ©2020 Doug Spowart+Victoria Cooper
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Our photographs and words are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/au/..

The photobook event that THE VIRUS TOOK AWAY

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Some Antipodean Photobooks from the Tate project PHOTOCOLLAGE: Doug Spowart

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On the weekend of May 2-3 2020 there was a weekend of major photobook activities planned for the PHOTO 2020 International Photo Festival in Melbourne.

 

A significant component of the event: A seminal selection of 52 Australian and New Zealand Photobooks* from the State Library of Victoria’s collection was to be made available for public viewing.

On Sunday May 3 international photobook guru Martin Parr was to team up with local photobook aficionado Doug Spowart in a public Q&A session. Of particular interest were their methodologies and considerations for reviewing photobooks. Among other questions it was proposed that they respond to the contentious issues of ‘What validates a book for it to be considered eligible to be included in a canon of photobooks?’ and ‘How such curated selections can energise the recognition for photobooks?’

It was planned that the panel interviewers and contributors to the discussion would be renown writer and Photojournalism Now publisher Alison Stieven-Taylor and would also include the celebrated New Zealand photobook maker and Massey University lecturer David Cook.

An additional event to add to the PHOTO 2020 Photobook Weekend was a major Photobook Fair that would include major publishers, significant photobook makers, a showing of the ANZ Photobook Awards, photobook manufacturers and POD suppliers, workshops and info sessions.

 

However the COVID-19 pandemic was to change all that …

 

 

March 15, 2020 post on the PHOTO 2020 Facebook page

March 15, 2020 post on the PHOTO 2020 Facebook page

 

The PHOTO2020 event, retitled as PHOTO2021 is being rescheduled with the new dates of 18 February – 7 March 2021.

Thank you to founder and Artistic Director Elias Redstone and Producer Rachel Ciesla from the PHOTO 2020 team and Des Cowley from the State Library of Victoria for their efforts to bring this project into fruition. And we look forward to being part of the programme on the rescheduled dates…

 

Keep up to date with PHOTO 2021

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/photofestivalau/

WEBSITE: https://photo.org.au/

 The PHOTO 2021 team have been posting video interviews with a diverse group of international photographers and artists – Check them out…

 

FACEBOOK: Photo 2021-Photo Live

 

 

 

*52 Antipodean Photobooks: A beginning for a canon of the ANZ photobook

In 2019 the Tate Library received a selection of 52 photographically illustrated books from the Australian and New Zealand region. The books were curated by Australian photobook aficionado Dr Doug Spowart and were specially chosen to extend the Antipodean photobook presence within Martin Parr’s 12.5K photobook donation to the Tate in 2017.

Doug Spowart’s Tate commission came as a result of his meeting with Martin Parr at the 2017 Vienna Photobook Festival. Parr attended Spowart’s lecture on the Antipodean photobook at the Festival and saw examples of the 2016 ANZ Photobook of the Year Awards.

Martin Parr and Doug Spowart reviewing ANZ photobooks at the SLV for consideration to be included in the Tate submission. January 2018. ….. PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

In early 2018 Spowart met with Parr at the State Library of Victoria and shared with him a selection of the photobooks that had been curated for proposed Tate purchase.

While interest in the photobook has resulted in publications and scholarship from every major country in the world the same has not been the case for the Antipodean photobooks. Spowart sees the PHOTO 2020/2021 event as being an opportunity to celebrate ANZ photobooks and bring recognition to the local contemporary and historical publications. To this end Doug Spowart has published a blog entitled The Antipodean Photobook and a FACEBOOK page The Photobook in Australia and New Zealand (under construction @ May 2020).

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Looking forward to PHOTO2021: 18 February – 7 March 2021

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BIFB: PHOTOBOOK WEEKEND – A Report

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WORLD PHOTOBOOK WEEKEND

 

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale was proud to host the World Photobook Day during the festival between Saturday 12 October and Monday 14 October. The call-out was to Celebrate World Photobook Day with other photography enthusiasts by attending 4 photobook events over the weekend.

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Doug meeting with Aaron Bradbrook

Doug meeting with Aaron Bradbrook

The back story for the BIFB’s World Photobook Weekend is that in March Vicky and I visited the BIFB in its home the National Centre of Photography. In a conversation with Associate Curator Aaron Bradbrook we pitched the idea of a photobook event to coincide with World Photobook Day.

In followup conversations with the BIFB Creative Director Fiona Sweet a series of four events became part of the program. The events were: a keynote talk, a forum, a photobook fair and a birthday celebration.

 

With BIFB Creative Director Fiona Sweet

In the months that followed we worked with Fiona, refined the event focus and the people who could be involved. We then followed through with our side of the necessary preparations and promotion of the event.

This series of Blog posts provides a report on the four events as well as an opportunity to present a commentary on the Australian and New Zealand photobooks that was the topic of the talk I presented on the first day of the weekend.

To navigate through the events just ‘CLICK’ on the title tab. At the end of each post there’s a ‘RETURN to the HOMEPAGE’ link.

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SATURDAY 12 OCTOBER

Doug Spowart + ANZ Photobooks


TALK BY DOUG SPOWART

Many Tribes: The Australian And New Zealand Photobook

Click LINK

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SUNDAY 13 OCTOBER

Book Fair participants


PHOTOBOOK FAIR

Click LINK

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Forum Panelists

 

FORUM: Photobooks – Getting Published & Getting Collected 

with Patrick Pound, Sarah Walker, Heidi Romano and David Wadelton. Moderated by Doug Spowart

Click LINK

 

MONDAY 14 OCTOBER

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World Photobook Day Birthday Celebration


HAPPY BIRTHDAY PARTY
!   Celebrating 176 years of photobooks

Click LINK

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ANZ PHOTOBOOKS – Keynote TALK: BIFB Photobook Weekend

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Many Tribes: The Australian & New Zealand Photobook

A talk by Doug Spowart

The photobook disrupted the 1990’s prediction that ‘the book is dead’ and grew into a worldwide phenomenon. Doug Spowart will address key aspects of the historical and contemporary makeup of the photobook in Australia & New Zealand where the various ‘tribes’ contribute to a vibrant and progressive discipline.

October 12 @ 2pm, World Photobook Weekend Hub
Mitchell Harris Wines, 38 Doveton Street North

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What follows in this Blog post is a synopsis of the presentation with references to various aspects of the Australian and New Zealand photobook scene. Where possible links have been provided to external sources for further information.

Please note: This presentation is part of ongoing research and will be added to and refined as new information becomes available.

 

Photobook Talk: Introductory comments

 

At 2.00pm I welcomed the 30 or so people who attended this BIFB Photobook Weekend event.

In the opening statements I acknowledged the Traditional Custodians, the Wathaurong people of the land on which we met, and recognised their continuing connection to land, water and community. I paid my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. And I also wished to recognise the importance of storytelling and its continuing tradition today…

I announced to the attendees that due to the recent passing of the doyen of New Zealand photobooks Harvey Benge, that the event would be dedicated to his memory.

With these formalities completed I began the talk:

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Doug Spowart and ANZ photobooks he loves

Doug Spowart and ANZ photobooks he loves Photo: Victoria Cooper

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I have been working in photography for over 50 years and the photobook has been, and continues to be – my teacher, inspiration and obsession. I have read, bought, collected, loaned books and on occasion not given them back to their rightful owners because they were so special to me and I couldn’t part with them.

In my youth these books inspired and fed my insatiable curiosity of the world and informed me of its challenges and wonders beyond my own experience.

Over time I encountered an increasing diversity and depth in all forms of books and their makers of photobooks, artists’ books and zines. I became interested and involved in each of these different groups researching and documenting their aims, manifestos, their key practitioners, education alliances and reward structures. Much like ‘tribes’ these communities of creative practice gather together within the rich milieu of visual communication through the form of the book.

 

But First – a little photobook history

In 1839 William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the key inventors of photography, stated that photography would make, Every man his own printer and publisher. He went on in 1844 to publish the book, The Pencil of Nature as a treatise on the uses of photography using his calotype process.

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Anna Atkins

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Scientific illustrator Anna Atkins used the ‘blue print’ cyanotype process to produce a book in 1843 entitled Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. Atkins’ book is recognized as the first photobook as images and texts were printed on the page at the same time – whereas Talbot’s prints glued or tipped-in on the pages and the text printed using letterpress. In recent years the date that Atkins’ book was catalogued by the British Library, October 14 1843, has become celebrated as ‘World Photobook Day’.

In the 175 years since the Atkins and Talbot, the use of photographs in books has developed into a powerful carrier of information and ideas either with or without text. Book design including format, paper selection, layout, typography and production methods have also developed in companionship with this growing interest in the photobook as a form of communication. The onset of desktop and online publishing created an environment where individuals and collectives could independently publish. The art and commercial process of book production and publication is under an epic transformation. Talbot’s phrase – Every man [or woman] his [her] own printer and publisher has become a reality.

 

Early reference books about photographically illustrated books and photobooks

 

The ‘Photobook’

Historically bibliographers have categorised books with photographic narrative or content using the terms ‘photographic book’ or ‘photographically illustrated book’.

Over the last 20 years however interest in the photographic book emerged encouraged by the critical review and commentary of the discipline in publications starting with Phillip Roth’s 2001 The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century, and the 2004 ICP exhibition and publication, The open book : a history of the photographic book from 1878 to the present. However the term ‘photobook’ came to prominence as a result of three tomes published in 2004, 2006 & 2013 by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger The Photobook: A History. Originally the purpose of the discussion in these books was to establish a cannon for photographic books. Later the term photobook came to encompass all kinds of books including those from the contemporary boom in trade and self-published books.

Within a few short years the photobook became a publishing phenomenon. Whilst frameworks may have previously existed in the publishing world the drivers of the new photobook discipline – mainly photographers, created hierarchies consisting of awards, criticism, knowledge sharing and educational structures, supported by boutique publishers as well as the powerful established brands. Photobook designers also found new recognition for the unique contribution that they could make in transforming a photographer’s body of work, often in collaboration with the photographer, into a work of visual communication. Scholarship and collector market interest spawned bookshelves of critiques, surveys and catalogues covering the books from just about every nation of the world. Social media hype by key influencers and their particular sphere of interest set trends and photobooks became a sexy, desirable and collectible commodity.

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THE ANTIPODEAN PHOTOBOOK – A BRIEF HISTORY

Within its remote geographic location the Antipodean photographically illustrated book was very much based on trade published books that reflected the needs and interests of society. Publishers selected books containing content that would be highly saleable to the public. Of concern to the publisher was the book format, production values at a price that would provide an appropriate return on the investment. In the 100 years from 1900 books published followed certain themes and subject matter.

  • 1900/30 Illustration/pictorial/documentary
  • 1940–50 Nationalistic pride/immigration
  • 1960s Discovering/celebrating who we are as a people
  • 1970s – The political book
  • 1980–90s – A celebration of landscape and the wilderness
  • 1990 Exploring visual storytelling + Documentary

For a more illustrated discussion of this topic please see the lecture slides from my 2017 Vienna Photobook Festival lecture.

 

Australian & New Zealand Photobook of the Year Awards book from 2017   …PHOTO: Courtesy MomentoPro

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The Antipodean Photobook – A CONTEMPORARY VIEW

To have a perceived currency in the global scene the Antipodean photobook – its practice, publishing and marketing has been arguably influenced by the Euro/US market and taste. Where does this place the local photobooks? Does it merely mimic the Northern hemisphere’s trends in their book products? While some aspects of practice do take their lead from the cross Atlantic product, could its isolation have enabled the Antipodean photobook discipline to develop in other ways. Photographers from this region have their own unique and intimate vision. They have access to variety of subject matter from the social circumstances of people, to environments and political spaces. They also have opportunities to connect with local allied creatives in book design, publishing and printing technologies including print-on-demand and desktop self-print.

 

The Antipodean Photobook – TRIBES

In this talk I want to highlight the diversity of this region’s creative potential and participation in the photobook medium. In that diversity there are various groups that can be recognised and acknowledged as publishing an Antipodean view. In my review of Australian and New Zealand photobook publishing I have found the following author groups or collectives with their associated motivations:

  • Those who make books for the general market that will be sold through online or bricks and mortar bookshops
  • Those who make books for a discerning clientele sold in specialized art/architecture/design bookshops or gallery bookstores
  • Self-publishers making books by POD or hand-making intended for the art book market
  • Self-publishers making zines and ephemera for free distribution through their culturally-connected venues
  • Those who were once called ‘vanity publishers’ – making books because they can
  • Those who make publish political manifestos
  • Those who publish with the principles of altruism – creating books to distribute ideas and social comment
  • Artists who make ‘fine art’ books for collectors and public collections.

Each of these makers associate, collaborate, and form associations – both personal, professionally and organisationally with like-minded people who share their interests. For some time I called these groups or collectives ‘tribes’. Distance separates photobook makers in Melbourne from their peers in Sydney, or for that matter with Adelaide or Brisbane. Similarly Australian photobook makers may not have any significant connection with New Zealand makers and vis-à-versa. Other ‘tribes’ may exist in the fields of academe, design and publishing as well as areas relating to the collection and criticism of photobooks. Then there are different ‘tribes’ for those that sell photobooks with some having a specific interest in antiquarian or historical photobooks, whilst others may focus on contemporary books. Certainly there are practitioners who crossover into different tribal groups but generally each tribe stands alone.

Whatever the ‘tribe’ there is a rich and diverse community of practice for photobooks in Australia and New Zealand replete with events and supporting structures.

 

The Antipodean Photobook – KEY EVENTS AND SUPPORTING ASPECTS

Conferences

Fairs

Publishers

Awards

Bookshops and online sellers

Supporting organisations + Interesting stuff

 

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The Antipodean Photobook – MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS

 

The Asia Pacific Photobook Archive

A contributor to the ANZ photobook scene is the large collection of photobooks assembled by the Asia Pacific Photobook Archive. APPA was founded by Daniel Boetker-Smith in 2013 and is now coordinated by Daniel and Bella Capezio. The Archive is a not-for-profit open-access physical archive of self-published and independent photobooks and is now situated in Le Space in Collingwood, Melbourne. Contained within the Archive is a significant collection of contemporary photobooks from the Asia/Pacific region with some books coming from the western Asian region. Books in the Archive can be accessed by appointment and may also be presented from time to time in exhibitions, presentations and displays.

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Perimeter Books

Leading the push to publish and present Antipodean photobooks and artbooks to the world is the Melbourne publisher Perimeter Books. Founded by Dan Rule and Justine Ellis, Perimeter Books has developed a solid presence at all the major artbook fairs around the world. Additionally Perimeter’s bookshops and online service brings specialist books from the contemporary international scene within reach of the local market. They have supported and promoted local photo and artbook authors through their annual Small Book Award.

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Justine Ellis & Dan Rule – Perimeter Books

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Photobooks in education – Photography Studies College

For some time photo educators in all levels of academic study have included the photobook as a capstone project or a holistic assessment assignment. In recent years many of the graduates of these institutions enter the photobook scene with a significant publication that launches their publishing career.

One Australian institution, Photography Studies College (PSC) in Melbourne, has nurtured many emerging photobook makers including Sarah Walker – Winner of the ANZ Photobook Award and the Perimeter Small Book Prize. The engine that drives the PSC photobook is Course Director Daniel Boetker-Smith assisted by a team of lecturers themselves photobook authors. PSC has also supported special events for the wider photobook community including workshops and lectures with the photobook doyen Martin Parr, the acclaimed designer Teun van der Heidjen and the educator associate professor Corinne Noordenbos.

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MomentoPro Sponsorship of ANZ Photobooks

Significant enablers to the local recognition of our photobooks include the yearly photobook awards that bring together a diverse selection of books for their critical evaluation and recognition. Coordinated and supported by the photobook print-on-demand company MomentoPro with the Patrons Libby Jeffery and Geoff Hunt, this yearly event creates a focus for the Antipodean photobook community of practice.

The MomentoPro organization has also altruistically supported many other major local events including Photobook New Zealand in 2016 & 18 and Photobook Melbourne in 2015 as well as numerous awards both national and local for photobooks. In 2017 MomentoPro supported the freight costs towards getting the ANZ Photobook Awards to the Vienna Photobook Festival.

What follows is a small selection of events supported by MomentoPro…

 

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ANZ photobooks puchased by the Tate

In early 2019 a collection of 52 ANZ photobooks curated by Victoria Cooper and myself were accepted into the UK Tate Library. The project was initiated by Martin Parr to add Antipodean content to the 12.5k photobooks that he had donated to the Tate in 2017.

Martin Parr reviewing ANZ photobooks with Doug Spowart at the State Library of Victoria

Documenting the history ANZ photobooks

Over the last 3 years I have been adding to the information about ANZ photobooks by the compilation of a COMPENDIUM of all things about the Australian and New Zealand photobook discipline. The latest edition of the Compendium focused on the Australian scene and was launched at the Melbourne Art Book Fair in March this year. I am presently working on an update of the New Zealand listings for Photobook New Zealand in March 2020.

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A Conclusion

What I hope for is that through the recognition of the different ‘tribes’ in the Antipodean photobook that I have discussed today, we can celebrate the diversity of practice that has developed in this part of the world. Through recording, highlighting and discussion of the photobook discipline in the Antipodes will be made visible and find its place within the international scene.

In the meantime what continues to excite me about photobooks is that materialised in each book is a concept revealed, a view shared, an opinion expressed, a shout uttered or a tender moment whispered. And while the author’s life moves on – the books are left behind on shelves in libraries, on coffee tables and left casually opened on the bedside table. The photobook, is the ultimate intimate and portable archive of the life and times of the artist.

 

For future reading…

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Doug Spowart

A revised version of the talk presented at the 2019 Ballarat International Foto Biennalé on October 12.

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Documenting the Antipodean Photobook

My research in the Antipodean photobook world its tribes and the discipline is on-going. I may have met many people, participated in numerous events and looked and lusted after maybe thousands of books, but I find it is an ever-expanding space of creative activity. Wherever possible I document the people and places I encounter …

 

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Return to the BIFB Photobook Weekend Blog Homepage..

 

NOTE: Should any captions in this post contain incorrect information please contact us and advise so we can make the necessary changes.

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All photographs, unless indicated otherwise, are the copyright of Doug Spowart.
Please contact Doug Spowart to access permission to copy or use images for any purpose.
Text ©2019 Doug Spowart

A PHOTOBOOK FORUM: BIFB Photobook Weekend

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FORUM: Photobooks – Getting Published & Getting Collected 

with Patrick Pound, Sarah Walker, Heidi Romano and David Wadelton.

Moderated by Doug Spowart

What sparks and drives the passion for the photo book? How do photographers get published? And how can photographers establish and grow meaningful collections? Join Doug Spowart and a diverse panel of photobook practitioners and publishers as they answer these and other associated questions through their personal observations, stories and predictions.

 

VENUE: World Photobook Weekend Hub, Mitchell Harris Wines, 38 Doveton Street North

 

BIFB Creative Director Fiona Sweet welcomes the attendees ………PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

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The Ballarat International Foto Biennale Creative Director Fiona Sweet Acknowledged country, welcomed the 45-50 attendees to the Forum and introduced Dr Doug Spowart as Moderator for the event.

 

Doug Spowart thanked Fiona and announced that the BIFB Photobook Weekend celebrates 10 years of Biennale activity in the field of photobooks as what he believed was the first photobook exhibition in a major gallery was ‘Book One’ curated by Juno Gemes at the Ballarat Art Gallery in 2009. He mentioned also that as part of the core program in 2009 he and Victoria Cooper presented the exhibition ‘Book: Site’ at the Post Office Gallery that featured their photobook and artists’ book work.

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BIFB Photobooks @ 2009 event

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Spowart went on to advise that due to the recent passing of the doyen of New Zealand photobooks Harvey Benge that the event would be dedicated to his memory.

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Doug introduces panel ………..PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

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With the formalities completed Doug Spowart introduced the Forum panelists:

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Panelist: Patrick Pound ……………..PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Dr PATRICK POUND

Is an avid collector interested in systems and the ordering of objects: an attempt, perhaps, to make things coherent. As Pound says, ‘to collect is to gather your thoughts through things’.

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Panelist: Sarah Walker ………………PHOTO: Doug Spowart

SARAH WALKER completed a Bachelor of Photography (Fine Art) in 2016 at Photography Studies College. She utilises combination of found and archival imagery, as well as video, as a part of her photographic practice.

 

Panelist: David Wadelton …………..PHOTO: Doug Spowart

DAVID WADELTON lives and works in Melbourne. Wadelton’s practice includes paintings and photographs and is also recognised for his significant contributions to the field of experimental music in Australia.

 

HEIDI ROMANO is a photographer and festival director with a diverse skill set, honed through 15 years of experience. She is a passionate book designer and loves working with artists through all levels of project development. Due to ill health Heidi had to withdraw at short notice.

 

The Briefing

Spowart then briefed the panellists and the audience as to the program for the event. He described that the Forum would be in the format of a casual Question & Answer event. He asked that the audience would hold their questions until the end of the structured program and that all up the total duration should be around 70-80 minutes. After which members of the audience could catch up with the panellists if they had private questions that they wanted to ask.

 

The questions were displayed on a digital screen and panellists were invited to comment as directed by the moderator. Sometimes discussions ensued between panellists and occasionally a few quick comments came from the audience.

Panel in action            …………PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

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The questions and discussion points included the following:

  • Why do photographers want to make photobooks?
  • What is there about the book that appeals to people who want to connect with the book or purchase it?
  • Do collectors look at a photobooks differently to other people? Editioning / Signed copies / A collection focus / Investment
  • How do you display/store your photobooks
  • What do you look for in a photobook? – Do you have a favourite?
  • How do you see photobooks as the main or part or as complimentary of your creative practice?
  • Where do you get the inspiration to make/design or purchase a photobook?
  • Building a clientele – groups, bookstores, student/professional peers, through exhibitions, online…?
  • Awards and competitions – how you see their role in supporting photobook practice?
  • Is there anything that you find particularly special about the idea of a book or the object that is the book?
  • Can you describe the stages that you have gone through from idea to launch of a recent book?
  • How do you keep up to date with your area of interest in photobooks?
  • What is the next book that you want to buy?
  • Have you a story about the book you wanted and you missed it? OR The bargain?
  • What would you expect from someone who is to design your book?
  • What do you think a designer would you expect from a photographer/publisher commissioning you to design a book?
  • The photobook as a companion/catalogue to an exhibition – do you have an opinion about the exhibition in the book as a catalogue or should the book be an autonomous artwork based on the same content
  • What book forms interest you — concertina / codex / single sheet boxed sets, zines, fine press, limited editions…?
  • Commerce: marketing and selling books – how does that work?
  • Can you tell us about a book that you are working on…?
  • Does the idea for a book come first OR does the book come from an existing image resource?
  • The use of found objects and ephemera in photobooks …
  • How do you know if what you have done is a success…?

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Sarah answers a question ……….PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

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At the end of the event Doug Spowart thanked the panellists, the audience, the BIFB and his partner Victoria Cooper. It was mentioned that the Photobook Fair was on at the Art Gallery and that now would be a good time to add special books to the attendee’s collections. The room was quickly cleared except for a few who remained to ask questions of the panellists.

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We were sorry that the venue was not equipped with equipment to record the event.

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Return to the BIFB Photobook Weekend Blog Homepage.

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