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QUEENSTOWN’s UNCONFORMITY 2018 – From the Archive

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Driving to Queenstown for the 2018 UNCONFORMITY Art Festival

A diaristic record of the journey to Tasmania’s west coast two years ago – October 2018

NOTE: The 2020 UNCONFORMITY was cancelled due to the pandemic.
A link to their COVOD-19 response can be seen HERE
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Road to Queenstown

 

The road convulses, twists and turns as if the wilderness has challenged its taming by the road builders and engineers. Just when the wild begins to overcome your imagination a mountain ridge is crested and opening up before you is a place made by man and commerce showing their destruction of the landscape to make a place, a wild place – home.

The town of Queenstown is nestled in a valley floor through which flows a stream, a road and a railway line. The mining ceased after 100 years of operation and the town now seems devoid of what must have been the hustle and bustle of its glory days. Left orphaned by those who have moved on are commercial buildings intended for a permanence that is now redundant. Other buildings are kept cobbled together by make-do maintenance. The occasional sign in the empty shop window proclaiming “FOR RENT”. Houses of corrugated iron and rough stone construction and the occasional 1940s or 50s flat roofed ‘modern style’ straddle the ridges. They sometimes hang precariously from the narrow winding roads that move from the central business area outwards and upwards like a schematic of the human circulatory system.

 

 

In this unlikely place there exists a community of artists ranging from those for whom it is a hobby for personal life enrichment to those, many of whom are of national stature in their disciplines. Bi-yearly a special event in Queenstown celebrates its art community as well as those from around that country and the world who consider the locale as a touchstone and inspiration for their art.

Called ‘The Unconformity’ the event takes its name from an unusual rock formation found locally that was the natural catalyst for the mineral riches that were found there. ‘The Unconformity’ takes place over 3 days and attracts a worldwide audience.

Our unique proposition is to be a cultural conduit into western Tasmania—a place hard to get to and harder to engage—by mining a new cultural commodity with the spirit of independence, boldness, risk and adventure that is melded to our region’s DNA.

Mission statement from The Unconformity website

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We sat in a café munching on a magnificent homemade pie and at a table nearby the (then) former senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie also having lunch. I discovered a long lost cousin, the artist Beverley Loverock in a shop that is her studio at the top end of town. And just walking down a street between visiting art galleries and events we encountered Marc Pricop, a photodocumentary photographer who we knew from Brisbane when he was a student at the Queensland College of Art.

 

Just off the main street we caught up with nationally recognised printmaker Raymond Arnold who first came to the region in the 1970s as part of the Franklin Gordon Blockade protest. His connection with the place at that time left an indelible mark on him and for the last 18 years has set up his studio there with his wife Helena Demczuk. Called LARQ his modern studio and gallery featured an expansive artwork created in response to his years in Tasmania. It featured 100 hard ground line etchings, some multi-plates, which were presented in the gallery as 100 individually framed works as well as the assembled plates in a mosaic format that stretched the length of the studio’s main wall.

 

 

We were only able to stay for the better part of two days as local accommodation is booked out well in advance and we travelled from Tarraleah to Strahan and back to Tarraleah late Sunday afternoon. There was just not enough time to take in the range of art, performance, videos and presentations on offer many of which were booked out … But then there’s the next event in two years – we’ll be back.

HERE IS A COLLAGE OF THINGS WITNESSED DURING OUR VISIT…

 

NOTE: Due to copyright restrictions Youtube has muted most of the audio in this video – Imagine AC/DC music LOUD…!

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SOME LINKS…

 

https://www.theunconformity.com.au/

 

https://theconversation.com/the-unconformity-festival-embraces-the-power-and-peculiarity-of-tasmanias-wild-west-106147

 

https://unco-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/static/images/background-looped.4d0f74bf780d.mp4

 

 

PROGRAM

https://www.theunconformity.com.au/program/

 

EVENTS

https://www.theunconformity.com.au/events/

 

A WIKI

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Unconformity

 

Written by Cooper+Spowart

October 25, 2020 at 9:28 am

CYANOTYPE IN AUSTRALIA Celebrates World Cyanotype Day 2020

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CYANOTYPE 2020 MOSAIC

 

The world is in a pandemic turmoil but beneath the stress, pain and fear of what some call the ‘new normal’ artists have continued making their art. During this time online connectivity has provided the space to coalesce communities of practice across the world where ideas and creative products can be shared, discussed, recognised and critiqued.

Cyanotypers worldwide celebrated 2020 WORLD CYANOTYPE DAY on the 26th of September by making cyanotypes, presenting work in exhibitions and online through their social media platforms. In the USA there are dedicated groups that have continued to support the medium: Db Dennis Waltrip, Judy & Amy and the World Cyanotype Day web and Facebook group; Malin Fabbri‘s  Alternativephotography.com; and Amanda Smith’s Gallery in Texas. These people have created the glue that brings together cyanotypers from around the world.

Two years ago The Cyanotype in Australia Facebook Group was formed to bring together contemporary cyanotype work for presentation in major survey shows to celebrate Australian practioners from across the country on World Cyanotype Day. The first show in 2018, ‘In Anna’s Garden’ was presented at the prestigious Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne. Last year ‘Under the Southern Sun’ was shown at The Maud Street Photo Gallery – The Queensland Centre for Photography. This exhibition then toured to two venues in the USA: the A. Smith Gallery, Texas, and PhotoNOLA, New Orleans for the international World Cyanotype Day exhibition.

The Cyanotype in Australia Facebook group has actively supported a vibrant community of practice of not only local, but also international cyanotypers. This year, we decided to curate the World Cyanotype Day event online through the Facebook Group page as this space enabled many artists from across Australia and internationally to contribute during these challenging times. We asked our Facebook Group members to select a cyanotype that may have been their first print, an image of a current process investigation or a work that tells a story. Forty-three Australian and a few international Friends responded and posted their work on the page.

This catalogue has now been collated to show the breadth and creative work of these artists. We are again excited to present the amazing work of Australians including our international friends on The Cyanotype in Australia for World Cyanotype Day 2020.

The Cyanotype in Australia Facebook page is a closed group though we welcome ‘Requests to join’ from cyanotype practitioners.

 

Doug Spowart,

with Gail Neumann, David Symons and Victoria Cooper are The Cyanotype in Australia Team

 

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A GALLERY OF WORKS CAN BE SEEN HERE

More information about these works can be found in the catalogue

Download the catalogue via this link  ____WCD 2020 CATALOGUE-FINALv4

 

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Over the last two years the CYANOTYPE IN AUSTRALIA Facebook group has coordinated major events to coincide with this celebration.

the ‘In Anna’s Garden’ catalogue

In 2018 an exhibition entitled “IN ANNA’s GARDEN” was curated Stephanie Richter, Gillian Jones, Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart for showing at the Monash Gallery of Art.

A blog post for this exhibition can be viewed HERE

A download of the “In Anna’s Garden” catalogue can be accessed HERE

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INVITE: Under the Southern Sun

2019 saw the assembly of a group of Australian cyanotyper’s works to be sent to the A. Smaith Gallery and Photo  in New Orleans for the WCD International exhibition. The cyanotypes were firstly shown in the exhibition “UNDER THE SOUTHERN SUN” at The Maud Street Photo Gallery – The Queensland Centre for Photography.

A blog post for this exhibition can be viewed HERE

A download of “Under the Southern Sun” catalogue can be accessed HERE

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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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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/..

 

 

 

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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TWENTY-Documentary photography in Queensland

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SLQ TWENTY Webstie header

 

We are excited to announce that a selection of our Nocturne photographs of Queensland are featured in the new State Library of Queensland exhibition TWENTY: Two decades of Queensland Photography

 

 

ABOUT COOPER+SPOWART: Nocturne Imaging Projects

Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart making Nocturne images

Photography is integral to the way we capture, interpret and share our experiences and deeply considered views of our world.

For around ten years we have been photographing the visual transformation of small towns and suburban places in those last moments of daylight and into night. Our intent is to capture this transient magical atmosphere of twilight where the afterglow of sunset combines with the illumination of streetlights and the room lights from inside houses that say someone is home. Additionally as some photographs created at this time require long camera exposures, the image captured shows the ghostly, blurred movement of people and car headlight trails.

The experience of nocturnal light is seductive yet uncanny. It connects us to the sustained beautiful melancholy felt when listening to Debussy’s Clair de lune while simultaneously evoking the unsettling, dark moments of a film noir movie.

Over the last seven years we have significantly documented as artists in residencies and personal projects communities including Muswellbrook, Grafton, Armidale, Bundaberg, Toowoomba, Miles, Cygnet, Wooli, Castlemaine, Murwillumbah, Bribie Island and numerous central NSW and Victorian regional towns.

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SEE MORE OF OUR NOCTURNE IMAGES FROM EAST COAT AUSTRALIA

@ www.nocturnelink.com

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TWENTY: THE CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

FROM THE SLQ Website: The 56 photographers featured in TWENTY represent the incredible diversity of Queensland’s documentary photography community. Some are well-known, some are emerging, some have been practising their craft for years relatively unknown. Some studied photography, some are self-taught. They are all dedicated to documenting Queensland and their work has allowed State Library to develop an astonishing visual archive of our state in the contemporary era.

Michael Aird
David Allen
Anthony Anderton
Patricia Baillie
Stephen Booth
Hamish Cairns
Brian Cassey
Darren Clark
Suzanna Clarke
Jacqueline Curley
Rodney Dekker
Heidi Den Ronden
Jo-Anne Driessens
Justin Edwards
Leif Ekstrom
Liss Fenwick
Peter Fischmann
Amanda Gearing

Juno Gemes
Craig Golding
John Gollings
Troy Hansen
Josie Huang
Kelly Hussey-Smith and Alan Hill
John Immig
Reina Irmer
Daryl Jones
Cassandra Kirk
Marko Laine
Cameron Laird
Madeleine Marx-Bentley
Dominique Normand
Glen O’Malley
Chris Osborne
Renee Eloise Raymond
Mick Richards

Hannah Roche
Troy Rodgers
Brian Rogers
Dean Saffron
Jeremy Santolin
Cathy Schusler
Sarah Scragg
Arthur Liberty Seekee
Clare Sheldon
Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper
Reuben Stafford
Brodie Standen
Jason Starr
Richard Stringer
Garry Taylor
Shehab Uddin
Alf Wilson
Marc Wright

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100 AUSTRALIAN WOMEN PHOTOGRAPHERS: Loud+Luminous-2020

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LOUD & LUMINOUS – 100 Australian Women Photographers 

The backstory from the L&L Founders, Hilary Wardhaugh & Melissa Anderson

The Loud & Luminous mission is to recognise and celebrate the contribution of contemporary women in the photographic arts in Australia. We believe this project is unique and important in recognising the extensive cultural contribution women photographic artists and photographers have made in this country.

This project is designed to empower the girls and women of today and tomorrow to chase in their dreams. This will always be a timely project and one that hopes will help educate and inspire many women of all ages.

​The 2020 theme of ‘EQUALITY’ echoes the United Nations sustainable development goals of ‘gender equality’, and we very much look forward to seeing work that reflects that goal and our theme.

 

Late in 2019 a call went out to female photographers of any age throughout Australia to submit an image for consideration to be selected for the 3rd LOUD & LUMINOUS exhibition at Sydney’s CONTACT SHEET GALLERY and book. The photographers whose images were successful were:

L&L Selected photographers 2020

Loud & Luminous selected photographers 2020

 

Due to COVID-19 the exhibition at Contact Sheet Gallery has been postponed. However over the next 3 months they will post works on the gallery’s online blog. ‘CLICK’ HERE!

 

Once again we were excited that images by both Victoria and Ruby were successful…

 

 

VICTORIA COOPER

Victoria Cooper: Portrait…..PHOTO:Doug Spowart

Victoria’s Artist’s Statement: All things have significance

All things have significance … sentient or not … organic or inorganic… a rich environment of diversity, differentiation and divergence.

The inspiration, like a ray of light through dark clouds, to create this image arises from the women that have, at great personal cost through leadership in research, writing and sheer passion, fought discrimination, voicelessness and political power structures to make a difference in the ongoing quest to create a sustainable and healthy planet. Among these women are: American Rachel Carson, Australian Mary E. White and Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg.

 

All things have significance ….. PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

 

 

RUBY SPOWART

Ruby Spowart …. Photographer unkown

Ruby’s Artist’s Statement …. EQUALITY: Beauty in Aging

Some may say that only in youth there is beauty – as I witness in the unfolding of a fresh new orchid flower. But as I watched the flower each day, its beautiful strong colourful presence began to loose its vigour and the colours began to slowly fade. In the last stages of its life it turned a deep reddish tan almost gold.

Its youthful form no longer evident but now wrinkled and withered it has a different kind of elegance – an equality of beauty…

 

Ruby’s EQUALITY: Beauty in Aging

 

 

 

Hilary Wardhaugh & Melissa Anderson wish to acknowledge.

Hilary Wardhaugh + Mel Anderson

Hilary Wardhough + Melissa Anderson

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In 2018 our wonderfully supportive sponsors included: Fujifilm Australia, Kayell Australia, Momento Pro, Victorian Women’s Trust, Creative Women’s Circle and Damian Caniglia Photography and Video. In 2019 we again secured Fujifilm Australia, Kayell Australia, Momento Pro, and Damian Caniglia Photography/Video. We also added Print2Metal and Amanda Summons (book designer) as sponsors.

In 2020 we added PPIB Photographers Insurance as a new sponsor. We were also very fortunate to have Paul McDonald at CONTACT SHEET Gallery as our Exhibition partner, too.

The 2019 and 2020 we held International Women’s Day Symposia in Canberra that were both sold out and received extremely well. We are also proud to say that the 2018 and 2019 Loud & Luminous books have been accepted into the National Library of Australia’s collection.

In 2020 we also saw the results of the stipend raised by the IWD 2019 ticket sales in a group exhibition with Suellen Cook, Tamara Whyte, Helga Salwe, Tricia King and Elise Searson at Photoaccess in Canberra.

 

 

The 2020 L&L book

BUY A COPY OF THE 2020 L&L book HERE

(Order before 30 June 2020)

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Both Victoria and Ruby have been selected in earlier LOUD & LUMINOUS exhibitions

Victoria Cooper (left) ………………………………………………………………………………Ruby Spowart (right)

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IN 2019  – ‘Click’ link to see the post

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Victoria Cooper  L&L entry 2018

In 2018  – ‘Click’ link to see the post

 

 

 

 

Looking forward to the next LOUD & LUMINOUS exhibition in 2021 …

 

 

Written by Cooper+Spowart

May 16, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Exhibitions, Speaking on Photography, Victoria Cooper

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LOOKING AT PHOTOs IN THE GALLERY: a talk by Doug Spowart

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Doug Spowart in The Museum Project exhibition at Lismore Regional Gallery .…..PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

I’ve a lifetime of connection with art galleries from exhibitor to director and curator to reviewer. I’ve often pondered on how the gallery space connects with those who visit it and what insights they may take-away from that interaction.

Viewing an exhibition can be a very superficial activity or it can be one that can create the opportunity for a meaningful and personal experience.

I have often been interested in observing people in the gallery space and wondered whether they were: (1) an interested and attentive participant, (2) using the space for social interaction – with friends/partners/children, (3) there as a flâneur to be seen in the gallery or possibly (4) a person accompanying 1, 2 or 3.

Floor talks are a necessary part of the educative process carried out in an art gallery. It can transform the way art is introduced to a new audience and enlighten those wanting to know more.

 

At the end of last year I was invited to present a floor talk about an exhibition of photography at the Lismore Regional Gallery in northern NSW. The talk was to coincide with the gallery’s showing of The Museum Project a collection of American photography work from the 1970-2010. The project represents a selection of works from 7 photographers that cover a diverse range of approaches to photography. The photographers, and genre of their works are:

 

The Museum Project at the Lismore Regional Gallery

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I considered the invitation and proposed that the talk would be based upon the idea of ‘Looking at photos in the gallery’. Rather than a direct translation of curator’s didactics I decided that I would use my gallery and photography experiences to suggest a number of steps and questions for the visitor in their engagement in the gallery space so they may derive more from the experience. I also acknowledged that attendees would be interested in a commentary about interesting aspects of the works including the conceptual and technical approaches taken by the photographers. The works presented an excellent opportunity to also talk about different approaches to photography as a visual art form.

In my preparation for the talk I visited the gallery and made notes on the works as well as carried out online research about the photographer’s backgrounds, manifestos and techniques.

I thought further about the proposition of looking at photographs in the gallery and prepared a script for the talk. To make the talk more interactive and personal, I decided to hand make a little booklet for each attendee to refer to during the talk and as take-home information source. In the 2015 Artists’ Book Brisbane Event, I did a similar process where I made a booklet of my talk for each of the 60 attendees of the conference and rather than an electronic presentation, I performed the book …

The gallery staff member assisting me for the day, Claudie Frock, had printed up 25 A3 sheets of my 8-page fold booklet the evening before so that Joanna Kambourian, Vicky and I could make up the books.

 

The Looking at Photos in the Gallery booklet

The Looking at Photos in the Gallery booklet

 

Overnight before the talk Lismore, and South-East Queensland and North-East New South Wales were drenched with flash-flooding rains so I was pleasantly surprised in the morning when 25 people came along to the talk. There was also a small group of deaf people attending the talk and I was supported in my presentation by AUSLAN interpreter Bronwyn. After the acknowledgement of country and an introduction by Claudie we began the talk.

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Participant involvement is a necessary part of my presentation style and the question/answer format gave ample opportunities for attendees to interact in the talk. One of the gallery’s curators that attended, Fiona, added special insights about gallery installation, copyright and image conservation. The booklet process worked well and we managed to cover a diverse range of topics within the 1-hour time allotted.

 

You can download a PDF of the little A5 booklet LRG-Booklet

 

Vicky and I stayed on after the talk to connect with attendees who wanted to chat further and also to re-connect with two local photographers Jacklyn Wagner and Peter Derrett OAM who were associated with workshops that we had presented in Lismore at the Gasworks Art Centre and the Southern Cross University in the early 1990s. They presented us with a copy of the catalogue for a documentary project called Heart & Soul that featured people from around the region.

On leaving the gallery the rain had cleared to a sunny day…

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Vicky + Doug with the catalogue for the Heart&Soul exhibition by Jacklyn and Peter PHOTO: Peter Derret

Vicky + Doug with the catalogue for the Heart&Soul exhibition by Jacklyn and Peter PHOTO: Peter Derrett OAM

 

Doug with Jacklyn Wagner + Peter Derrett PHOTO: Dr Ros Derrett OAM

 

 

 

Please note the Booklet and the lecture are a work in progress to be added to in future versions – and it’s ©2020 Doug Spowart.

 

 

VICTORIA COOPER: Scroll works 1998-2003

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Victoria Cooper: Portrait

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Victoria Cooper talks about her early montage works in the form of 10 scrolls made in the period 1998-2003

The text below begins with a discussion about the first five scrolls, three from Mt Buffalo and two of Phillip Island clouds. This is the first public viewing of these early scroll works.

Following this is a short statement about the next five scrolls, The Five Stories of the Gorge. There is a separate blog post about these scrolls that presents more details and exhibition history along with an image of each scroll.  HERE

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For those who can see, existence takes place in an unfurling scroll of pictures captured by sight enhanced or tempered by other senses . . . Building up a language made of pictures translated into words and words translated into pictures, through which we try to grasp and understand our very existence. (Manguel, 2001, p.7)

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Montage and digital narratives

Timothy Druckrey (1994) discusses the montage early in digital era: One of the central considerations in the emergence of electronic montage is the redefinition of narrative and the single image is not sufficient to serve as a record of an event but, rather, that events are themselves complex configurations of experience, intention, and interpretation. Nearly 30 years of the digital evolution, the montage and the collage in all its forms both traditional and analogue continues to shape perception and narrative of the human condition.

 

About my digital montage scroll works

My first major digital body of work in the late 1990’s was a series constructed visual narratives from photo-documentation in sites significant in my development as an environmental visual poet. In the digital medium, I then cut and blended my collected data/ resource of photographic elements into the multiple perspectives that visually tell my story through the form of rice paper scrolls. The sites were Mt Buffalo, coastal Victoria, and a small area of original forest near Toowoomba.

When I first encountered the landscape at Mount Buffalo, I was filled with a sense of awe. The most significant memories that remain with me are of the journeys from the valley to the summit. Over the years I have undertaken many walks that meander through or climb impressive granite landforms and rich stands of native flora. The Buffalo Scrolls were constructed from many individual elements of the analogue photographic material gathered on site and woven together in the computer later. Although initially informed by the tradition of Chinese and Japanese scroll making, I could not conform to the strict rituals of Asian art school but rather was guided in the production of these works by material thinking and the reflective/reflexive response to memory and corporeal experience.

 

Victoria Cooper (August, 1999), Buffalo Scrolls, Waterfall,
inkjet on rice paper in acrylic boxes,
Image: 107×27.5 cm, Scroll: 250×30 cm.

 

The digital environment provided me with a psychological space in which images could be combined, manipulated and layered in the shaping of my story. I utilised image manipulation software to ‘grow’ and distort the landscape. Through this process I found that I was directed to imaginative places beyond any original intent or pre-visualization. Although the work originates in my direct recordings of place, the fluidity of digital space allowed for experimentation and new work to transform and evolve any fixed idea I may have had. So in creating The Waterfall scroll, a large boulder became a precipitous mountain to emphasis the terrain encountered. The trail up to the waterfalls was a seemingly endless rock-formed staircase that proved to be a challenging path.

 

 

Victoria Cooper (August, 1999), Buffalo Scrolls, The Cathedral,
inkjet on rice paper in acrylic boxes, Image: 107×27.5 cm,
Scroll: 250×30 cm. Collection of the artist.

 

The Cathedral scroll journey across a watery marsh dotted with fragile alpine daisies is at times a precarious rock hop. Taking care not to step onto the vegetation beneath. In another of the Buffalo scrolls the ominous granite corridor of The Pinnacle defines the way through expanses of rock to the summit of the mountain in the distance.

 

 

Victoria Cooper (August, 1999), Buffalo Scrolls, The Pinnacle, inkjet on rice paper in acrylic boxes, Image: 107x27.5 cm, Scroll: 250x30 cm. Collection of the artist.

Victoria Cooper (August, 1999), Buffalo Scrolls, The Pinnacle, inkjet on rice paper in acrylic boxes, Image: 107×27.5 cm, Scroll: 250×30 cm. Collection of the artist.

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Victoria Cooper (August, 1999), Phillip Island Storm Cloud, left and right views,
inkjet on rice paper in acrylic boxes, Image: 107×24 cm, Scroll: 250×30 cm.
Collection of the artist.

 

My work with digital scrolls continued with the production of the diptych, Phillip Island Storm Cloud. These two images relate to the sense of anticipation felt when observing an approaching storm.

At Mount Buffalo and Phillip Island, I wrestled with both a fear of taking risks when encountering new and difficult terrain and a strong curiosity to explore the unknown. The scrolls reflect the memories of conflict and fear together with a sense of wonder I experienced within this sublime landscape and, in some ways more broadly, my life.

 

 

Installation of Victoria Cooper's Five Stories of the Gorge
Installation of Victoria Cooper’s Five Stories of the Gorge

The virtual to the physical

The digital montages can only be seen in the electronic medium through the action of ‘scrolling’. Therefore, as some of my early inspiration came from the Asian form of presenting narratives, I utilised the rice paper scroll transformed the virtual to physical, tactile form. The scrolls are displayed in the vertical format and unravelled from their acrylic container to reveal the entire image. The viewer can enter the scroll at any point as with the initial perusal of a written story and, if engaged fully, can follow the narrative through from beginning to end.

 

The Five Stories from the Gorge Scrolls

Following this initial work I became more interested with the concept of small and intimate spaces found in everyday life. Five stories from the Gorge, presents a more intimate connection with the environment than the Buffalo series. Instead of trekking up precipitous climbs of distant mountain regions, I followed forgotten pathways and looked into the small, enclosed spaces of this gorge environment near where I lived. I made many journeys into the gorge and on each occasion I took time to absorb many sensory impressions as well as creating a digital photographic record.

As with the Buffalo work, I found that the single viewpoint photographic image did not give me the dynamic reading I sought. So again I created a series of montage scroll works synthesised from my collected visual recordings and sense-memory.

The physical environment of the gorge presented me with some complexities when blending the changes of photographic perspective into a seamless passage through the landscape. Central to this work was to attempt, by the use of scale and viewpoint changes, to reconstruct how the eye scans a scene. As the eye of the observer focuses on single viewpoints then moves to another it not possible to take in an entire scene with a single perspective. With this characteristic of visual perception in mind, I set out to recreate the landscape visually from multiple viewpoints. So in this body of work I seamlessly combined disjointed and sometimes perceptively conflicting views to form images that go beyond the static visual document.

During my visits to photograph the gorge, I also collected objects from the site. For me, the found elements provided a different narrative opportunity. In the scrolls Chaos and Order I investigated these natural elements presented in groupings as a kind of language. These pictographs form poems made up from a natural vocabulary associated with the visual form of the written word.

Each element was scanned into the computer to obtain a replica of their likeness, the objects themselves were later returned to the site to continue their natural cycle. The scroll, Order, begins the dialogue by suggesting the elements of a genetic code. The arrangements of the seeds and leaves and other fragments are seemingly organised and uniform but, on closer observation, there are subtle differences to the repeated segments.

Chaos came as an answer to the cyclic relentless processes that continually ebb and flow through time in nature. It is the interruptions, upheavals and the process of change that nurture and ensure survival. Though these scrolls are without the scenic detail, they are the essence of the region, a distilled manuscript of the cycles and disruptive events in nature over time.

The Chaos and Order scrolls alongside the Hillside scroll

The Chaos and Order scrolls alongside the Hillside scroll

 

Five Stories from the Gorge, investigates the idea of wilderness and nature that exists in or on the edges of these human inhabited spaces.

 

The Gorge – from the series Five Stories from the Gorge 2001

 

Throughout the process of image collection and construction I was informed by the influences of visual poetry, environmental art and my scientific background. The landscape paintings of William Robinson and Lin Onus have both innately influenced the way I see and work over my career. These reconstructed spaces are as fictional as a Tolkien novel but at the same time provide the evidence of existence as if collected in a Darwinian exploration.

 

Victoria Cooper

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SEE A BLOG POST ABOUT The Five Stories of the Gorge: HERE

Bibliography
Timothy Druckrey (1994). ‘From Dada to Digital, Montage in the twentieth century’, Metamorphoses: Photography in the Electronic Age, Aperture, 136, Summer, pp 4-7.
Timothy Druckery (1996) editor. Electronic Culture, Technology and Visual Representation, New York, Aperture Foundation Inc.
Alberto Manguel (1996). A History of Reading, London, Harper Collins Publishers.
Alberto Manguel (2001). Reading Pictures, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WOTweTHINK: Joe Ruckli’s ‘LIGHTNING WITHOUT FLASH’

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Walking into Joe Ruckli’s exhibition Lightning Without Flash at the Queensland College of Art’s Web Gallery was a little like entering into the subject of his documentary work.

The white walls of the gallery evoke the opal miner’s white clay tunnels of Lightning Ridge in northern NSW. Here and there the glimmer of what opal miners call ‘colour’ appear in the form of photographs arranged in rows and in one random gallery hang.

In the center of the room on plinths sit piles of ‘potch’ – miners slang for junk opal in the form of Keno tickets, fractured clay clods, crumpled beverage cans, machinery debris and a ‘roly-poly’(tumble weed).

 

Lightning Without Flash QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… Installation QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Gallery visitors at the exhibition opening ... PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Gallery visitors at the exhibition openingPHOTO: Doug Spowart

 

In traditional documentary style Ruckli’s ‘miner’s tunnel’ presents visual material that tells or invokes stories about place.

Ruckli’s human inhabitants live hard lives working in difficult conditions.

  • A hand holds a wallet in which a well-handled 1960s b&w portrait of lady looks out of the frame – the thumbnail of the hand is damaged and cracked and a fly sits on the knuckle…
  • A 50s+ lady stares challengingly at the camera, hand on hip the other resting on the doorway to her ‘home’ – behind her head a circular dark shape, perhaps a window, acts like a halo. There are layers of meaning here…
Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

 

The human occupied space where people live and work is depicted as a run-down, rough and inhospitable place.

  • A caravan surrounded by assorted re-purposed corrugated iron sheeting hides within a barren withered land.
  • A ‘room’ of walls made of bits of bags, iron sheets, wood and bush poles seems like an abandoned hermit’s lair laid dormant for a century.
  • A shop in the street ‘Peter’s Opals’ presents a stark elevation despite the beauty of the stones inside for sale.
Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

 

The natural space is tough enough for plants and animals without it being overlaid by the detritus of human habitation and exploitation.

  • Bushland slashed by the track of grader blades, scattered bleached kangaroo bones and shrubbery covered by powdered bulldust giving the appearance of a snow scene.
  • A kangaroo skeleton lies in profile, its running pose is gradually being smothered by wind-blown dust to perhaps one day to be found as a fossil of this time…
Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

 Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

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Ruckli has selectively, through his image and ephemera collecting, presented us with a first-hand experience of Lightning Ridge. It’s an alien space that few of us will ever encounter. But for one moment, in this white ‘tunnel’, we came to experience something of what lies behind the opal’s seduction. So powerful that it drives human endeavour to live, work and endure the hardships to strike the illusive and lucky find.

And we wonder about the gem – once extracted from its hiding in the claystones and then polished – destined for another place to adorn, as a jeweled accessory, the lifestyles of another world …

 

Doug Spowart with editorial support by Victoria Cooper

13 Jan 2020

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What is WOTweTHINK?

We attend many exhibitions and lament that these shows rarely have personal or reflective commentaries published about them. Our concept is to condense our thoughts into an Instagram-like short/sharp rought draft post. We hope that WOTweTHINK may encourage a broader discussion …

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A SELECTION OF OTHER IMAGES FROM THE EXHIBITION

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