Archive for the ‘Imagery Gallery’ Category
From 1990 to 2001 I edited and published a journal called PHOTO.Graphy (ISSN 1038-4332 and earlier called ‘News Sheet’). This journal was created to fill a gap in the discussion, critique and commentary about a segment of the photography discipline within Australia. Occasionally I would engage guest editors to add their voice to the conversation. Ian Poole was the Guest Editor for Volume 4 #5 – Here is my Editorial introducing to Ian’s view of the art photography scene in Queensland in 1993.
Ian’s survey of the Queensland art photography scene makes for interesting reading nearly 25 years on… Mentioned in the survey are; Rod Buchholtz, Andrew Campbell, Ray Cook, Victoria Cooper, Marion Drew, John Elliott, Peter Fischman, Craig Holmes, Andrew Hurst, Chris Houghton, Susan Leway, Kerry James, Gail Newmann, Glen O’Malley, Charles Page, Graeme Parkes, Ray Peek, Howard Plowman, Rhonda Rosenthal, Maris Rusis, Doug Spowart, Ruby Spowart, Richard Stringer, Carl Warner, Jay and Younger. Charles A. von Jobin is also featured in the issue.
A PDF of the full issue is available HERE: PHOTO.G-Vol4n5r.
EXPO’88 – A conceptual photographer’s document
At this time twenty-five years ago, January 1989 – the people of Brisbane were beginning to lament the passing of EXPO’88. While the six-month adventure opportunity to encounter the world and its cultures and cuisine was to form lasting memories for some, others may have recollections of the crush of interstate and overseas visitors, the nightly flamboyant fireworks displays and the inevitable queuing to visit everything from food stalls, to exhibitions and toilets. EXPO’88 is often seen as a watershed in the transformation of Brisbane as a sleepy backwater into a vibrant cosmopolitan city of the world and, most certainly part of the 21st Century.
I had a season pass for EXPO’88 and created a personal body of work as a response to my experience of the event.
Here is the back-story behind my 1988 project … The First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW
In the EXPO’88 event I recognised an opportunity for the creation of a new body of work investigating emerging approaches to my work methodology. For varied reasons I had introduced to my practice the creation of alias identities to which my work was attributed. These identities were quite complete in that they had refined working styles, subject matter, presentation forms, a photographic portrait, signatures and artists statements. As a gallery director it was easy to slip the work of these ‘photographers’ into group shows for commentary and critical acclaim. These personae enable me to play a little game on a system that at times, from my perspective at times, was biased, exclusive, nepotistic and overly critical. It also enabled me to explore ideas and concepts relating to my photography and the presentation of photographs.
When EXPO offered season passes I attended the passport portrait session with pair of fake glasses and a fictitious name, Eugene Xavier Pelham Owens, the initials and the signature spelled ‘EXPO’. The deception had begun. In time this project grew into an extensive body of work from 5 different personae all representing their manufactured personal responses to the EXPO experience. The exhibition was opened on April 1st 1989 (April Fools Day), it was reviewed positively in the Courier Mail and sales of work resulted from people who found the photographs reconnecting them with their experience of the event. The deception went undetected and after the exhibition the body of work passed into obscurity, as do so many exhibitions of photographs, and was slipped into archive storage boxes in my studio.
Whilst, at the time of the fieldwork on this project I called myself a ‘conceptual photographer’ as I felt that my work was driven by the overarching idea of personal experience documents rather than the photodocumentary reportage principles of truth and reality. I was aware of the term ‘conceptual artist’ and recognized that it had all kinds of baggage attached to it based on art theory and movements, however my work as a photographer at this time has simpatico with Sol Lewitt’s 1967 manifesto on conceptual art. He states:
In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art. (Lewitt 1967)
Recently Melissa Miles has discussed the term ‘Conceptual Documentary’ in her 2010 paper The Drive to Archive: Conceptual Documentary Photobook Design. The discusses in reviewing the photobooks of Stephen Gill, Mathieu Pernot and Matthew Sleeth. She asserts that this mode of photography is based on a theory that photographers want to collect and respond to a kind of ‘archive impulse’, making and arranging image sequences of daily life into photobooks. What appeals to me is that, as a Conceptual Documentary photographer I, as Miles defines, ‘seek[s] out and frame[s] their subjects according to a pre-determined idea or scheme. Processes of repetition and categorization are central to Conceptual Documentary’ (Miles 2010:50). For me, what I was engaged in was to make a commentary from a personal viewpoint and to create a contemporary record for public presentation and, ultimately archiving. While Miles’ contemporary Conceptual Documentary practitioner including the likes of Martin Parr freely publish their photobooks in the 1980s trade published productions were beyond the reach of most photographers including myself.
What I find interesting now is that the 1980s was a particularly productive period for me as I created a trilogy of exhibitions: Tourists Facts, Acts, Rituals and Relics, Icons & Revered Australiana and The First & Last Photo Expo Show. These were essentially social documentary projects based on a personal directorial premise. I found that the limited opportunities for presentation of the framed exhibition format of these shows led me to initial experiments with boxed sets of images and ultimately to self-published photobooks, the first of which was completed in 1992.
These days I’m not so concerned about any tag as my work is often so interdiciplinarian it is hard to define. What for me is interesting is that at the time I made work that may now be able to be defined and categorized using contemporary terms and definitions. What is also important now is that the EXPO’88 photographs, some 5,000 of them, exist as an archive not necessarily as a document of the place but rather as a personal, conceptual documentary photographer’s response to the EXPO’88 experience.
Doug Spowart December 26, 2013
Lewitt, S. (1967). Paragraphs on Conceptual Art. Artforum 5: 8.
Miles, M. (2010) “The Drive to Archive: Conceptual Documentary Photobook Design.” Photographies 3, 49-68.
HERE IS A SELECTION OF WORKS FROM MY EXPO’88 PSEUDONYMS
A PDF PRESENTATION CONTAINING MORE IMAGES IS AVAILABLE HERE: EXPO-SPOWART-v3
Images and text © Doug Spowart Design of the Poster: Trish Briscoe
From the Doug Spowart Personal Art Archive 1953-2014
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
SEE UPDATE ON FUNDING: https://wotwedid.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/qcp-funding-cut-statement-from-the-qcp-board/
Beyond everything else in contemporary life we all need creative stimulation and engagement with things bigger than ourselves – Photography does that better than just about anything else, and the QCP is the most important centre of photographic thought and activity in Queensland, and perhaps even Australia. We need this organisation to be supported by private and public institutions to match the acclaim and recognition that it has rightfully earned through darn hard work and its dedication to artists and those who appreciate the beauty, and the expression, that can be found and shared through the photograph.
The QCP funding provided by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland is about to be reviewed. Over the last few months the QCP and its supporters have been gathering evidence of their activities and the important and necessary service that they provide to photographers and the photographically interested public in Queensland. Despite the support that the QCP gains from private donors, the income derived from exhibitions and publications and other activities, as well as substantial in-kind volunteer support, the additional funding provided by AQ enables so much more to be achieved.
QCP Director Maurice Ortega contacted me in July to provide a personal support letter to the minister – the text of which is listed below. Recently I have received a response from the minister, which I have attached for your information.
You can support the QCP by adding your name to the online petition that is listed below – but be quick, as the numbers need to be tallied soon.
A LETTER TO THE MINISTER SUPPORTING THE QCP
August 6, 2013
The Honourable Ian Walker
Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts
Level 5, Executive Building
100 George Street
BRISBANE QLD 4000
Subject: A letter of support for the Queensland Centre for Photography
In 1980 I co-founded with my mother Ruby a facility in Brisbane to provide a focus for the people of Queensland who were interested in all facets of photography. This included: exhibitions, their display and curatorship; a training and workshop facility; and a meeting place. The gallery was called Imagery and operated essentially as an artists-run initiative until 1995. The activities of Imagery Gallery were considered so significant that its complete archive was accepted by the State Library of Queensland, and as such, has become part of the history of this state.
In 2004, a proactive group of academics and practitioners, recognising the absence of a dedicated facility like Imagery for the support and development of photography in Queensland, founded the Queensland Centre for Photography (QCP). Over the nine years of operation, the managing team headed by Director Maurice Ortega and Deputy-Director Camilla Birkeland, have developed the QCP into an internationally recognized centre for the art of photography.
The costs associated with the QCP operation not only comes from government grant funding but also through the valuable support of corporate sponsors and the work of an energetic committee of volunteers and interns.
QCP initiatives include the following key programs:
- The exhibition program
- The educational program
- The publication program
- The international program
- The QCP collection
- The biennial Queensland Festival of Photography.
With the biennial Queensland Festival of Photography (QFP) the QCP gathered together a statewide coverage of exhibition venues and the QFP travelling series of lectures and forums placed the organisation’s commitment firmly within the regional space of Queensland. Further to this they have taken Queensland photographers and their works to international venues and gained significant recognition for Queensland themes and stories.
I am a regional artist, a TAFE teacher of photography, a critic and commentator on art and photography, and a member of many photography organizations including the Australian Institute of Professional Photography with service as chair of national subcommittees. It is my opinion that the QCP’s contribution to the practice and art of photography is significant and vital to the fabric of cultural activity and its growth in Queensland.
Photography today is ubiquitous; it permeates every aspect of society, every age group and interest. People employ photography in science, in information and communication technology. Most importantly photography is universally the medium of story telling and the QCP’s activities across the state provide support for Queenslanders to create and present these communiqués to national and international audiences.
The Queensland Centre for Photography has made a proven contribution to the state of Queensland in supporting and fostering the important practice and art that is photography and its contribution to cultural development. I therefore ask that you positively consider the ongoing support funding to enable this important Queensland initiative to continue doing its work for Queenslanders into the future.
Dr Doug Spowart M.Photog, FAIPP, HonFAIPP
Dr Doug opens the FOTO FRENZY Photographic Centre in Brisbane
The much awaited reopening of the expanded FOTO FRENZY Photographic Centre in Coorparoo took place on Friday, January 18, 2013. Attended by a crowd of around 100 well-wishers the event heralded a new beginning for dilettantes of a wide range of photography interests including:
- photography workshops
- photographic gallery
- fine art printing, mounting and framing
- photographic darkroom hire
- studio hire
- one-on-one consultations
The Foto Frenzy team includes Brisbane photo identities Ian Poole, Cam Attree, Tony Holden and Darren Jew. All four are photographers and have specialist areas of activity from photography as art, to location and underwater photography, nude and glamour photography and photography as personal expression. Darren Jew is well known in photo workshop circles for the ‘Faces and Places’ workshop that he established with Jim McKitrick in the late 1980s.
The Foto Frenzy team have been together for twelve months in a modest facility just a short distance away from the new home. Now with the larger facility and the linkup with Susan & Jacob and Brisbane Camera Hire new and amazing opportunities for the business and the clients that they service are available.
As someone with a history in photography that connects with most of the Foto Frenzy team, as well as being a former Director of the photo gallery and workshop—Imagery Gallery, (that operated in Brisbane from 1980-1995), I was asked to open the new Foto Frenzy Photographic Centre. Some of my comments in the opening speech were…
The other day I was made aware of a TIME magazine article in which the claim was made that 10% of all the photographs ever made in the over 170 year history of photography were made in 2012!! This statement is evidence that with digital photography, including the now ubiquitous mobile phone, means that anyone can take photographs—But does that mean that everyone IS a photographer? My opinion is no—Because there is something special in the blood of the photographer that enables them, or demands of them, that just seeing and snapping isn’t enough.
True photographers want to ‘craft’ and create images that are about significant visual communication. Sometimes powerful, sometimes sublime, sometimes nonsensical or humorous and sometimes, perhaps even bland and boring. We know of these kinds of photographs because they tell us about beauty in the world, of atrocity, of feast, famine and of love and the human condition. These images inspire us and drive us, perhaps even spur us on to be better photographers ourselves—and this is where we encounter the need for networking, training, nurturing support, guidance and technology support. This is where the Foto Frenzy suite of services will link with our lives.
I congratulate the Foto Frenzy team and Brisbane Camera Hire for their vision, entrepreneurship and financial commitment in establishing this photographic centre. And what I see are the great opportunities for those of us interested in being a part of what photography is, and where it is going—to have a place that will be a hub, or should I say, a frenzied hive of activity.
It is with great pleasure that I declare the Foto Frenzy centre open….
Ian Poole in his thank you advised the attendees that Cooper and Spowart were to be, in a couple of months, the Foto Frenzy’s first Artists in Residence.
SPECIAL NOTE: We will be conducting a range of workshops @ Foto Frenzy over the following months. The topics of our workshops and consultations will include aspects of our PhD research into photobooks, creative photography practice, narrative and story telling in the photo sequence and aspects of social media, in particular Linkedin, Blogs and YouTube. We will also be available for one-on-one project/concept development.
To let us know you would like to be advised of the workshops when they become available
Contact us <Greatdivide@a1.com.au>
Cheers Doug and Victoria
RUBY SPOWART: Art Photographer
Around 30 photographers gathered to hear about the life and photographic art of Ruby Spowart in Brisbane on June 13th. Now in her mid 80s, Ruby has over the years participated in a range of photographic pursuits that have led to some quite substantial achievements. She is a triple Master of Photography, Fellow and Honorary Fellow of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography; in her academic studies she has achieved a Certificate in Art from the Queensland College of Art and also an Associate Diploma of Visual Art from QUT. Recognised for her contribution in visual art she was awarded a Don Fraser Fellowship of QUT and, earlier in her career in the camera club movement she was awarded both an SSAPS and an APR Medal by the Australian Photographic Society. She co-founded Imagery Gallery in Brisbane that showed exhibitions of photography for fifteen years from 1980-1995. Her photographs have won major art photography awards in the 1980s and 90s including the Muswellbrook Photographic Award and the McGregor Prize for Photography and is held in major regional art collections and the Queensland Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia.
SEE Ruby’s curriculum vitae
Ruby has created an immense body of work in the following techniques:
- Polaroid 10”x8” colour photograms (1980s)
- Polaroid SX-70 multi-image (joiner-style works) (1980s)
- Massive pseudo-panorama landscapes (1980s & 90s)
- Camera toss mosaics (1980s & 90s)
- Large-scale photo mosaics (1980s & 90s)
- Artists’ books and photobooks (2000-2012)
Her most recognisable works, particularly from the AIPP APP Awards successes, comes from her work with Kodak High Speed Infrared film and a Leica M2. The images are usually of outback Australian landscapes and are heavily sepia toned. SEE a folio of works in Ruby’s Behance Folio
Queensland AIPP President Jan Ramsay enthusiastically introduced Ruby and Marianne Irvine (recently awarded AIPP Honorary Life Membership) who, we learned was to interview Ruby as part of the evening’s presentation. At first Ruby discussed her life and touched upon the following points;
- Her mother was a keen artist who painted in oils
- Her schooling was cut short by World War II, as she had to help out on the farm as her brothers had enlisted
- She had always done things with art-making; enamelling, ceramics, china painting, drawing
- Ruby joined the Numurkah Camera Club (in Victoria) and the Australian Photographic Society in the mid-1960s
- Had served as National Membership Officer in the APS
- Had participated in all levels of the camera club movement in Queensland in the 1980s
- Founded Imagery Gallery with son Doug in 1980 and was a director until the gallery closed its doors in 1995
- Exhibited extensively throughout the 1980s and 90s
- Founded Imagery Gallery Tours with Doug in 1982 and over 17 years undertook around 40 outback safari tours around Australia, as well as tours to New Zealand, Africa and South-Western USA. It was noted that Imagery Gallery Tours may well be the Australia’s first Photo Tour business.
- Ruby became involved with the AIPP and the APP Awards in the early 1990s and served as the administrator for many years
- In the early 2000s Ruby cared for her husband who was in ill health and she moved to the Gold Coast on his passing in 2006.
This presentation was illustrated by examples of artworks and personal images from these recollections. Marianne Irvine then led a lively discussion around the infrared work and travelling in the Australian outback. The concept of taking photographs with film was commented on as many in the audience did not have a significant connection with infrared film, processing, fine print making on fibre papers and the variations of the toning processes that were employed by Doug, who had printed most of Ruby’s work—although she did hold up for the audience to see an image that she announced as her last APPA Gold awarded print, and said that she, ‘had printed that one!’
Doug explained the infrared film process as it existed 20 years ago and connected his knowledge and skill in the darkroom with the prints before the audience. SEE: Doug Spowart’s infrared film ‘How To’
Ian Poole interjected that the images were masterworks made by the photographer Ruby, and the printer Doug, and that the APPA print scores and labels on the print backs provided a wonderful provenance for the work as high quality ‘vintage’ prints.
When asked about her beginnings in art photography Ruby explained the creative space that was created by Imagery Gallery’s presence within the Brisbane photography scene. During its 15 years of operation Imagery Ruby and Doug showed over 200 exhibitions of photography, they curated major exhibitions of Queensland photographers work, some of which were shown in China, New Zealand and Noumea. She had found, as she believed many others had as well, that Imagery Gallery had provided inspiration for new ideas and directions of photography, exploration of themes and the presentation of photography within the gallery context. SEE: IMAGERY GALLERY Biog
Questions from the floor enabled other insights into Ruby’s process and workflow to be revealed. The presentation concluded with everyone being presented with the Patterns in Time catalogue of Ruby’s work and an invitation to visit her on the Gold Coast to see more work from her extensive practice. Ruby advised that she was making her work available to interested purchasers and many attendees eagerly approached her at the conclusion of her presentation.
It’s not often that we can gather together and meet with photographers who have been a part of the recent history of the discipline and who in some way may have helped create that space and opportunities that we enjoy today—this occasion was certainly one of these. Thank you to Ruby for sharing her story and her art, to Marianne for her chairing the meeting, thanks also the AIPP Queensland Division and in particular Jan Ramsay for coordinating this and other events for the benefit of AIPP members and those interested in photography.
Doug Spowart with contributions from Vicky