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Archive for the ‘Place-Projects’ Category

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

A TASMANIAN CYANOTYPE: Untitled Found Objects by Victoria Cooper

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Untitled found objects a cyanotype by Victoria Cooper

 

Untitled Found Objects is created from a collection made of invasive starfish species colonising parts of Tasmanian waters and a map-shaped beer coaster found discarded in the streets of Hobart. In this work I play with these found objects and speculate on their relationship with Place.

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Found objects: Starfish and Tasmanian coaster map

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When I take the time to study a place through photography and Material Thinking* history is unearthed, reconsidered and reordered. As I walk in each place, I identify and collect objects for further study. Some objects are commonplace or endemic while others may be discarded or dislocated dissonant interventions. I then utilise the cyanotype process as a site-specific medium to record these collections using sunlight and other environmental conditions as experienced in-situ. In this work the cyanotype forms a blue matrix in which these objects are imaged as their shadows. The shadowy imprints inhabit the blue as white ghostly forms referential of their solid origins.

The final work of blue and white is a paradox between its fiction and truth, the featureless blueness only revealing form by its absence. To think about the cyanotype in this way ushers in many questions: Is the cyanotype blue a political or aesthetic statement? Do the white shadows speak of absence or are they the essence of a presence? Does the reader need an exegesis to understand a poem?i

 

Victoria Cooper

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Untitled found objects exposing the cyanotype

 

*The concept of an aesthetic methodology proposed by Paul Carter in his book, Material Thinking, defines my art, and underpins the making of my work. Through a psychological dialogue with materials, subjects and objects, my work evolves reflexively and in concert with the response to physical experience of time and place. In this process I am taken in new directions and presented with unexpected outcomes for the work.

 

Just as human collaborators needed to suspend an irritable desire for control of the project, substituting instead a lover’s readiness to be plastically moulded by the other’s (intellectual) desire, so with materials: they self selected, those of especial value to enquiry displaying gifts of amalgamation and self transformation analogous to the emotional environment characteristic of the human exchange. (Carter 2004:xiii)

 

Paul Carter, 2004, Material Thinking, Melbourne University Publishing Ltd, Melbourne.

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©2019 Victoria Cooper

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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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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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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OUR 2019 FIELD STUDY Submission: Tidal fire debris

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Each year artists from around the world submit 100 copies of an artwork and mail them to an address in Geelong, Australia. Coordinator of the Field Study International mail art project David Dellafiora works with a team to collate and assemble the A5 sized artworks into books. Copies of the Field Study International are sold to collectors and institutional libraries around the world to raise funds for the workshop and to cover project costs. Contributing artists are also sent a copy.

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This has been a great yearly project for us for over 10 years. What follows is the story of our submission for 2019. At the end of the post there’s a brief story about Dellafiora’s Field Study Projects. David is also involved in many other mail art projects… LOOK HERE

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Narrabri roadside PHOTO: © Doug Spowart

Narrabri roadside PHOTO: © Doug Spowart

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Surrounded by fire

Recently we drove through central western New South Wales and southern Queensland. The country was dry and hot with willy-willies and dust storms lifting and moving the precious soil across the landscape. There was little or no green and the dams were dry- even rivers that would normally have some water were just sand and dry dirt. Travelling on further we witnessed the great Brigalow forests of southern Queensland seemingly quivering under the heat of the summer sun.

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Overall the country was brittle and broken from the endless dry. Not even summer there was a concern for the future as country towns not used to running out of water were in dire situations. Coastal areas where fire is a part of environmental regeneration there was also widespread concern for this now unusual extended periods of dry. This was not a normal cycle… The country was about to explode… all it takes is a dry thunderstorm with lightning, a careless smoker driving past or sadly a deliberate act from criminals.

So then the fires started so much earlier than expected… the many brave souls rallied to fight for their community. But these were not just the normal local bush fires… They grew and joined to form huge firestorms, the fighters used all they could find from buckets to the fire fighting trucks… But much of the land was inaccessible and many areas of forest could not be saved from the onslaught of wind and heat… Some forests that had survived through the millennia without fire in unique and protected ecosystems were now potentially changed forever.

Fired forest near New Italy, northern NSW PHOTO: Victoria Cooper ©

Fired forest near New Italy, northern NSW PHOTO: Victoria Cooper ©

We then came to stay at a friend’s family retreat on the coast of Northern NSW… The road to this place passes through huge areas of swamp and eucalypt forest that rarely burns as it is usually has good rain. But now we drove past kilometres and kilometres of burnt and dry country… We soon found that the regional area where our destination is located was surrounded by blackened country. The atmosphere, as with most of the coast in NSW was chocking with smoke and dust.

Even though we were assured that our town was safe these were not usual times and we felt uneasy and depressed by the enormity of this disaster.

We decided to dedicate our field report work to record this devastation. Our dismay was deepened when we walked along the beach and witnessed lines of leaves and twigs and other blackened material washed up with the tide .. like the dead bodies of victims discarded by criminals. Down the length of the entire coast of NSW where other fires raged, these waves of blackened and broken forests were appearing – the sea has returned the evidence to the place of the crime.

We began by gathering small samples of the material as symbolic references to vast amount of evidence left behind from these black tides. This Field Report is our first response as part of future substantive work on the contemporary condition of indifference, arrogance and ignorance towards a deteriorating environment.

Victoria Cooper

Ashed beach, Wooli northern NSW PHOTO: Doug Spowart ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR SUBMISSION

COOPER+SPOWART 2019 Field Study submission

 

Signing the 100 prints…

100 prints...

100 prints…

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SOME BACKGROUND TO FIELD STUDY REPORT

 

Field Study International 2019 Call for Entries

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2011 Field Report cover

2011 Field Report cover

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2011 Field Report pages

2011 Field Report pages

2011 Field Report

2011 Field Report

2011 Field Report pages

2011 Field Report pages

A page of participants - 2011 Field Report

A page of participants – 2011 Field Report

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Look out for the 2020 Call for Submissions …

 

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A RE-PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT Revisited at TRAG

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Doug in the exhibition space PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

SAME SITES HINDSIGHT – Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery

 

For me rephotography is a way of re-viewing place and change through a comparative documentation using the perspectives of earlier photographers. I have always enjoyed the challenge to re-align the contemporary view with the past to see visual narratives of change either subtle or profound. At this time I discovered the work by Mark Klett and others published in their 1984 book Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project. Their approach to the reimaging of the photographs of the American west by William Henry Jackson, Timothy O’Sullivan and others in the 1860s was methodical and scientific. Although I was informed by this seminal work as a record of social and historical change, in some of my work I also enjoyed questioning the notion of the original photographers as a kind of truth.

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In the mid 1980s I rephotographed tourist postcard scenes in outback Australia and reimaged tourist camera photos placing them in the context of a wider-angled view. These projects were presented at the Araluen Art Gallery in Alice Springs in 1986 in the exhibition Tourists Facts, Acts, Rituals & Relics.

Other projects emerged including a commission from Di Baker, Director of the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery to locate the subject matter of artworks from the Toowoomba Gallery’s collection and to re-image the subject by photography.

The artworks that were my source reference covered a range of approaches to the artist’s vision imbued with the appearance of the painting techniques that they employed. Working with Victoria we travelled around the region to find the matching locations and met with some success finding the exact location. On occasion however we were only able to create a general locational view.

I chose a 4×5 large format camera and a black and white film made by Polaroid. Called Type 55 the film gave a black and white print and also a negative that, after in-field processing could be printed in a conventional enlarger.

The 1996 the exhibition NEW SIGHTS – SAME SITES was opened at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery and installation of the selected artworks were paired with our photographic interpretation of the same scene.

Now 23 years later the Gallery has re-presented the work for reconsideration by a new generation of art gallery visitors.

 

Don Featherstone (L) Golden Tree (Corner of Kitchener and Herries Streets)1959 watercolour Spowart+Cooper (R) Corner of Kitchener and Herries Streets 1996 silver gelatin fibre print

 

 

The Gallery wall sheet for the Same Sites Hindsights exhibition states:

In 1996 photographer Doug Spowart assisted by Victoria Cooper undertook a project called New sight-Same sites which re-imaged Downs landscapes and other regional sites depicted in selected works from the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery Toowoomba City Collection.

The project compared and contrasted the direct recording of a site using photography with the painter’s vision of the same location. One of the biggest challenges for Spowart in making these images was to replicate the painters’ viewpoints and, in some instances, even finding the locations proved problematic.

From the time of the initial recording to now, almost 25 years later, these photographs indicate constants and change. Time is transformational. In 1996, the Gallery challenged the photographer to identify these locations and in 2019 we challenge the viewer to explore Toowoomba and surrounds in response to these works.

 

The exhibition is on show from 14 September to November 3, 2019.

 

A selection from the subjects presented in the exhibition

C. G. S. Hirst  The New Court House 1879 watercolour and ink on paper

Spowart+Cooper  The Old Court House 1996 silver gelatin fibre print

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Herb Carstens   Sunday Morning (Street scene Toowoomba) 1961 oil on comp board

Spowart+Cooper  Sunday morning 1996 silver gelatin fibre print

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Brian Williams Near Drayton 1960 oil on comp board

Spowart+Cooper  Near Drayton 1996 silver gelatin fibre print

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Ruby Spowart Clifford Gardens 1986 photograph Polaroid SX-70

Ruby Spowart Clifford Gardens 1986 photograph Polaroid SX-70

Spowart+Cooper  Clifford Gardens 1996 silver gelatin fibre print

 

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TRAG Display

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OTHER REPHOTOGRAPHY PROJECTS BY Doug Spowart & COOPER+SPOWART

 

 

LINK: SEEING DOUBLE Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery 2001

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MAKING BLUEPRINTS TODAY–Our World Cyanotype Day Australian Submission

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Making cyanotypes in Tasmania

 

We created some cyanotypes yesterday to contribute to the Australian World Cyanotype Day (WCD) travelling exhibition. Setting up a coating studio inside a friend’s house in Cygnet Tasmania we exposed the sensitised material on the front veranda and washed-out on the shadow side of the house. It all sounds rather an impromptu affair and in some ways it is, as travelling artists we have encountered these challenges before making-do with the site-specific needs of each art-making opportunity.

 

But what is difficult in Tasmania right now is the weather. We’ve been ready for weeks to make cyanotypes and yet the pervading conditions have been overcast or scattered heavy clouds between sunny gaps, rain or fog. And as cyanotypes work best with clear, bright and directly overhead sunlight it has been difficult. Added to this mid-winter’s low angle of sunlight at 43°south means exposure times have to be extended 3-4 times that commonly achievable up the east coast of Australia.

Making cyanotypes is a process that takes place over time. Chemicals are mixed, the substrate coated with a brush. On this occasion we were printing on cloth and due to the ‘flow-through’ the material we coated a few sheets sitting on top of each other. These super wet sheets then needs to dry. Cloth takes quite a while to dry due to the large amount of chemical absorbed in the fibers although drying can be accelerated by using a blow heater or hair dryer.

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Coating the material…

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Next a series of test exposures may need to take place to know, in the specific sunlight conditions you may be working in. After exposure the material is washed-out in running water – we add a little citric acid. And for an accurate density check the sheet needs to be dried a little. Then you can make your first exposure. At the moment in Tassie we’ve been working with 15 minute exposures!!

 

BOM – looking for gaps between the clouds

All this means that you may start out with sunny skies, do your tests and then start you exposure and the clouds come in – the Bureau of Meteorology website is regularly monitored to make sure that you have an adequate time over which to work.

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Making the exposure…

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Washing out after exposure…

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Finally it’s hung up to dry …

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10 starfish that are an invasive species with 8 bones of a Tasmanian wallaby by Victoria Cooper

Vicky’s work is a response to contemporary land and sea issues in Tasmania. The image is a double-sided cyanotype – shown here is the transparency of the work with the blending of the two images.

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Swatches of blue: a colour of Tasmania by Doug Spowart

Doug’s cyanotype continued his experiments in direct light-strike on cyanotype sensitised materials. On this occasion the folding and refolding over the duration of the exposure creates a pattern of different blue densities. These emulate, like colour swatches, the different hues and tints of blue in the Tasmanian landscape. This is also a double-sided cyanotype that in this photo is still quite wet and yet to dry down.

Both cyanotypes have been made on linen material and are about 30 centimetres square. The linen was purchased at a local charity shop as second-hand white pillowslips. The A Smith Gallery presentation of these fabric squares has them pegged to lines running across the gallery ceiling where they appear like flags.

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In The Maud Street Photo Gallery

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The cyanotypes that we have made will be included in an exhibition of Australian cyanotypers at The Maud Street Photo Gallery in Brisbane during August 2-15. The exhibition is being co-curated by The Cyanotype in Australia team Gail Neumann and us (Vicky+Doug), and will bring together works from all over the country. It is a follow-up exhibition to the WCD exhibition In Anna’s Garden’ curated by Stephanie Richter, Gillian Jones and us at Monash Gallery of Art last year.

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In Anna’s Garden

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This year’s show is entitled ‘Land/Sea/Sky’ and the show at The Maud Street Photo Gallery is just the beginning as the works will be forwarded to the A Smith Gallery in Johnson City Texas for showing on World Cyanotype Day along with other works from across the world. At the end of the A Smith Gallery show the works will be sent on for exhibition in New Orleans at the PhotoNOLA Festival.

Participants in the exhibition will make a contribution to the costs of the Maud show as well as courier delivery to the U.S.A. and back home to Australia.

 

AN INVITATION TO ALL AUSTRALIAN CYANOTYPERS

An invitation has gone out through various networks inviting cyanotype makers to participate in the Australian WCD Travelling exhibition. If you make cyanotypes please consider being a contributor to the show. If know someone who does please let them know about the exhibition and pass on to them the AUST_WCD_SUBMISSION.

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For information about The Cyanotype in Australia and to join the the group’s FACEBOOK page: CLICK HERE

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To Download a PDF copy of the catalogue for the MGA exhibition click the link: In_Anna’s_Garden-CATALOGUE-FINAL-INT

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