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National Works on Paper submission – not shortlisted

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As an artist there is a need for affirmation and justification for one’s life in the activity and practice of artmaking. Artists prepare and curate their work in gallery exhibitions to present work – and then there are awards and competitions.  Each year, as the call for entries comes around, we like many artists around the country, look at recent work and consider its appropriateness for specific awards.

There are of course thoughts of winning an award but perhaps more importantly is the opportunity to be shortlisted for exhibition and considered for purchase or collection. Equally important for us is the opportunity to connect with fellow artists in the curated exhibition that represent the judge’s opinion of what constitutes the most relevant works based on the competition’s criteria.

This year I submitted to the National Works on Paper Award an artists’ book that I had made during our Skopelos Works on Paper workshop in Greece last year. The book is an exploration of the idea of a montage of light capturing the performance of reading a book. Simultaneously the reader, the location where the reading took place and the page-turning action of reading is imaged in light sensitive cyanotype on the watercolour pages of the book.


Doug Spowart opens SKOP PHOTO after its creation in Greece     PHOTO: Victoria Cooper


Here’s an image of the book:

SKOP PHOTO artists’ book by Doug Spowart


Other images of SKOP PHOTO folder, cover and details


ARTIST’S STATEMENT: SKOP PHOTO an artists’ book by Doug Spowart

This book is created using the cyanotype (sun print) process as part of the author’s ongoing investigation on the ontology of reading.

The book was folded into a concertina form to eventually allow for a variety of potential readings; either extended or page after page. The author then coated the light sensitive cyanotype emulsion onto the pages of the book.

The pages were slowly turned and extended over several minutes allowing the sunlight of the Greek island of Skopelos to strike the emulsion as author performed reading.

After washing in a bath of water, an image of the Aegean light was formed in Prussian blue on the pages of the book. Alternatively, where the light had not fallen on the page – there seemed to be no image formed. But this apparent absence was a “shadow” – a kind portrait of the artist reading the book in its moment of creation.


Today I received an email advising that my submission was not shortlisted..


Not a big problem for me as only 1 in 16 artworks were accepted for the 2018 awards and those names on the list are a fine group of artists.


If you are interested the 2018 National Works on Paper finalists were:
Raymond Arnold, Peter Atkins, Alec Baker, Martin Bell, Ray Besserdin, Solomon Booth, David Bosun, Godwin Bradbeer, Kate Briscoe, Jane Brown, Jon Campbell, Susanna Castleden, Danica Chappell, Hua Cun Chen, Sam Cranstoun, Lesley Duxbury, Robert Fielding, David Frazer, Ian Friend, Dana Harris, Katherine Hattam, Pei Pei He, Kendal Heyes, Mark Hislop, Deanna Hitti, Anna Hoyle, Natalya Hughes, Alana Hunt, Locust Jones, Jennifer Joseph, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Brian Martin, Georgie Mattingley, Mish Meijers, Viv Miller, Helen Mueller, John Nixon, Open Spatial Workshop, Elena Papanikolakis, Louise Paramor, Hubert Pareroultja, Jemima Parker, Riley Payne, Dan Price, Lisa Reid, Louise Rippert, Cameron Robbins, Brian Robinson, Elissa Sampson, Emily Sandrussi, Geoff Sargeant, Jo Scicluna, Liz Shreeve, William Smeets, Kylie Stillman, TextaQueen, James Tylor and Laura Wills, Trent Walter, Rosie Weiss, Mumu Mike Williams, Puna Yanima, Yvonne Zago, Tianli Zu.


Exhibition details at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Art Gallery:

The opening event and award presentations will take place on Saturday 21 July from 4-6pm. An electronic invitation will be sent to you closer to the date.


Now I’m looking forward to 2020

In the meantime I’ll be pursuing some more cyanotype documentations of the act of reading – maybe during our upcoming Bundanon Artists Residency in June…






VICTORIA COOPER: Loud & Luminous – Women’s Day Exhibition

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Loud & Luminous invite



LOUD AND LUMINOUS the exhibition, a celebration of Australian Women photographers, has been on show at Brunswick Street Gallery in Melbourne from 28th February – 13th March 2018 linking with International Women’s Day.

The Loud and Luminous mission concieved by Mel Anderson and Hilary Wardhaugh was to recognise and celebrate the contribution of contemporary women in the photographic arts in Australia. The exhibition has 56 emerging and influential Australian women photographers, referencing a women’s symbol in their finished work. Australian women from 9 years to 90 years contributed, with the goal to empower women of today and tomorrow.

The brief was completely open to interpretation. Artists used the figure of a woman literally or referenced it by shape or to make a statement. Each artists’ interpretation is quite unique and as a collective there is a strong message revealed.

This is a timely project and will educate and inspire women of all ages, backgrounds and disciplines by recognising the extensive cultural contribution women photographic artists make. It aims to empower the girls and women of today and tomorrow to chase in their dreams.


Victoria Cooper portrait


Artists Statement: Dreaming a River by Victoria Cooper


Influenced by Gerhard Richter’s enigmatic painting ‘Betty’, I was drawn to this photograph I made of a friend while travelling along the Danube River in Austria. It is an everyday moment but yet I find myself drawn into the reverie.

At first I struggled with the intervention of the exhibition symbolic motif, but as I contemplated my time walking beside this iconic river it was transformed through the thinking process. The motif multiplied: a thought pattern; a metaphorical weaving into a psychological fabric; or the confluence of symbolic women becoming a river.

Rather than a message or a memory of time and place, this work is embedded in the story of everyday life– of being in the world, and moments of dreaming …


Digital photomontage created for the Loud and Luminous Project World Women’s Day 2018 exhibition


Victoria Cooper talks about her work



Who is in the show…?


The opening event

The Loud+Luminous opening PHOTO: Hilary Wardhaugh

The conference



A book about the exhibition made by sponsor MomentoPro




Thank you Melissa Anderson and Hilary Wardhaugh for coming up with the idea and coordinating the project through to its conclusion.

Thanks also to the Sponsors…





Written by Cooper+Spowart

March 14, 2018 at 11:27 pm

CYANOTYPE: Working the ‘blues’ in Greece

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A cyanotype print on rice paper hung out to dry on Skopelos


The azure blue of the Aegean Sea perfectly matches the prussian blue of the historic process cyanotype. The ancient stories of Ulysses and Jason’s Argonauts lend themselves to the contemporary narratives that can be made through photography and the photobook. In May we sought to explore these creative possibilities through a collaborative workshop coordinated by artist Steph Bolt and Skopelos Works on Paper on the island of Skopelos located in the Sporades north-east of Athens.


Six participants worked with us over a two-week program of structured lectures, practical sessions and photo forays to explore the possibilities for image taking and art making on the island. Staying in the main town on the island we worked out of the purpose-built printmaking studio with a view out over rocky headlands, distant islands, blue waters and skies. The studio sits atop of the town next to the remains of a castle with steps and paved pathways leading to the harbour and the Paralia. Tourism is a significant industry for the island however its impact does not destroy a feeling of being within an authentic experience of Greece.


The workshops started with breakfast daily at 8.30am with a studio start at 9.00am. By 2.30pm the formal program finished enabling personal exploration of the diverse subject matter available. Everyday participant’s day concluded in the restaurants of the Paralia partaking in the culinary delights of rustic Greek food supported by ouzo, retsina and aspro krasi (white wine). We ate fantastic squid, octopus, anchovies, little fishes, rabbit, goat, traditional foraged foods like the succulent kritima, local cheeses, Skopelos pies and gyros. Some members of the group formed relationships with the restaurateurs and towards the end of each meal extra wine and special desserts were presented as gifts by the host.

At regular intervals in the program Steph and her husband Robin took us on photo adventures: to the ancient graves at Sendoukia for sunrise, the Roman bathhouse ruins of Loutraki, the hillside town of Glossa and the classic white rocky cliffs and beaches of the island. The island is also famous for providing the setting for the Bronson and Streep film, Mama Mia so we visited the famous church on the rock Agios Ioannis. As part of most of these forays we had more opportunities to dine in tavernas, coffee shops and seaside restaurants.

Agios Ioannis

Key to the program was the concept of ‘place-making’, that is making photographs and forming them into themes and photo-essays that told of the personal experience of place by the photographer. The process of the cyanotype was explored employing traditional ‘shadow’ imprint of objects collected from the island to some very experimental work with multiple materials and exposures and double-sided printing. We worked not only with art papers but also with rice paper, various cloth materials event kitchen paper towelling. We had also gathered some special objects like a range Greek laces and linens, local rocks and a diverse range of plant material. Connecting direct photography with the cyanotype process was achieved on-site by the making of enlarged inkjet negatives.

Photobooks were developed at first as mini-book projects that could lead to online projects with MomentoPro software. MomentoPro supported the project by accrediting our program as part of the ‘Club’ services giving the participants 40% discount on their first book and 10% on each of their future books.

A local cat keeps Gail amused while she exposes a cyanotype

The participants were accommodated near the studio at the top of the town – one group had extensive views of the Aegean Sea sunrise with the other group overlooking the town. As mentioned earlier the distance to the shops and restaurants in the harbour required the negotiation of several hundred bespoke steps of local stone and concrete all with their leading edge painted white. The steps meandered past mainly two storied whitewashed houses with ornate doors and grilles. Ancient churches some built with reclaimed stones from other building provided an experience of place that was quite memorable. Coming home from shopping or dinner meant a steep climb up through the paths, sometime dodging motorcycles although many steps are so narrow that even they are footpaths alone. On one early evening return we encountered a church group with candles being led in a song procession with a Greek Orthodox priest leading the way – a memorable moment indeed.

The weather was very changeable requiring some program shuffles, as cyanotypes are direct sun exposures for many minutes. Ah! Today is sunny – we’ll make cyanotypes then… Once participants grasped the technique each took the process in their own directions. Many sophisticated books were made based on other workshop classes in book binding and finishing. Some went BIG making full sheet (55x76cm) cyanotypes.

Morning review

At the beginning of each workday a review of the previous activities was undertaken. The specific needs of each participant could be covered and ideas shared.

On the final day each photographer presented their best work – what an amazing body of work that represented – although within hours each had said their goodbyes and had caught ferries off the island and were flying homeward. We were all jealous of Steph and Robin who have a house in the town and stay there for about half the year. Their knowledge of the island and networking with island people was invaluable for the success of the workshop. Works were shared and a folio set of eight small books were made in multiple so everyone ended up with a memento from each of other individual experiences …

All of us were touched by something special on the island – our photographs and books act as evidence of experience but also a touchstone to relive and share those experiences…


Here are some photos of the final presentations…



Copyright in the text and all photographs are the copyright of Doug Spowart+Victoria Cooper unless otherwise indicated. The copyright of the artworks is held by the artists.







DIGGING FOR GOLD: Nocturne Castlemaine+Chewton

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The memorial cairn celebrating the discovery of gold at this place in 1852

The memorial cairn celebrating the discovery of gold at this place in 1852


For about a month now we have been house-sitting in Chewton in the midlands of Victoria – the locality includes Castlemaine and Bendigo with Daylesford and Ballarat just down the road.

The region is famous for gold that was discovered in 1851 – with three months 30,000 diggers were working the alluvial gold fields. While initially a tent city very quickly buildings for every purpose where built many of which still stand today – although, some could be considered barely standing… Just up the street is The Red Hill Hotel that was built in 1854, the Chewton Town Hall in 1858 and the local post office was first opened in 1857.

By the end of the 1800s underground mining and dredging became the preferred methods to extract the precious metal. Companies that could undertake the industrial, technical and financial backing required replaced the independent digger. Populations shrunk and the architectural legacy of the boom times remained.

We have been out doing some night photography work to extend our Nocturne project further. Our nocturne photographs follow our usual methodology although we have added in the Day/Night duo image concept explored in the recent Nocturne Armidale project.


Castlemaine: Downes Road industrial scene

Castlemaine: Downes Road industrial scene

We have found that the Castlemaine and Chewton are thriving creative and cultural communities bolstered by artists, academics, writers and adventurers who have moved to this region. You can be surprised who lives around the corner…


Chewton Post Office

Chewton Post Office

The Chewton Community & Senior Citizens Centre. At the gate is an amazing life-sized sculpture of Alice Dennis by sculptor Richard Yates.

The Chewton Community & Senior Citizens Centre.
At the gate is an amazing life-sized sculpture of Alice Dennis by sculptor Richard Yates.

Pyrenees Highway and moon rise, Chewton

Pyrenees Highway and moon rise, Chewton


Elevation of the Old Castlemaine Jail...

Elevation of the Old Castlemaine Jail…

The 9.35pm to Melbourne leaves the Castlemaine Station...

The 9.35pm to Melbourne leaves the Castlemaine Station…

Castlemaine station detail... Poster says "When it's hot – Trains slow down". It was 41 degrees C max today - the train was running late. It was still 34 degrees when the train left the platform.

Castlemaine station detail… Poster says “When it’s hot – Trains slow down”. It was 41 degrees C max today – the train was running late. It was still 34 degrees when the train left the platform.



St Mary's Church with shadows

St Mary’s Church with shadows

TOTAL FIRE BAN TODAY - Chewton CFA, Mount Street.

TOTAL FIRE BAN TODAY – Chewton CFA, Mount Street.

You know when you hit the 50kph zone coming into Chewton when you pass the Shell servo ...

You know when you hit the 50kph zone coming into Chewton when you pass the Shell servo …

Just down the side of Mo's Antiques Chewton

Just down the side of Mo’s Antiques Chewton

Castlemaine Post Office – Telstra telephones... who uses them now...?

Castlemaine Post Office – Telstra telephones… who uses them now…?

The Old Castlemaine Jail...

The Old Castlemaine Jail…

Castlemaine Town Hall – lights all out 9.30pm.

Castlemaine Town Hall – lights all out 9.30pm.

Phone Box DUO at the Chewton Post Office

Phone Box DUO at the Chewton Post Office

You could almost write a novel about this Chewton scene...

You could almost write a novel about this Chewton scene…

PHOTO: Cooper+Spowart ©2017

Antique, antique shop Castlemaine

Castlemaine Midland Hotel just over the road from the station. The lights are out ---- Is anybody home...?

Castlemaine Midland Hotel just over the road from the station. The lights are out —- Is anybody home…?

The Chewton Town Hall...

The Chewton Town Hall…

Castlemaine Presbyterian Church

Castlemaine Presbyterian Church

Opposite the Red Hill Hotel DUO

Opposite the Red Hill Hotel DUO

Under the veranda of the Red Hill Hotel

Under the veranda of the Red Hill Hotel


Cooper+Spowart – on the nocturne street, Chewton

Cooper+Spowart – on the nocturne street, Chewton




Written by Cooper+Spowart

February 14, 2017 at 5:24 pm


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Signing the Field Studies 2016 contribution

Signing the Field Studies 2016 contribution


We have been busy the last few days completing our contribution to the 2016 Field Study International report project. Led by David Dellafiora in Geelong the Field Study project is now in it’s 22nd year. Field Study Report contributions are called emanations and can include all kinds of things including: ‘documentations of performances, actions and exhibitions, tracts, rants, instructions, manifestoes, reflections and experiments.’ They are a mashup of Fluxus, DaDa, Surrealist inspired, zine-ish paste-up, rubber stamps, torn up letter ransom notes and concrete poetry. The Field Study Report becomes a snapshot of artistic, social and/or political commentary at the time of its publication.


Our submission for 2016 is a commentary on our present nomadic lifestyle. Since moving from Toowoomba 2½ years ago we have been house-sitting, doing artists in residence projects, staying with friends and renting – we have lived in approximately 15 places.

For our submission we made a diptych of original cyanotype images recently while staying on the beach at Wooli. One print represents a starry night above a line of houses. The other print is a selection of of different keys –referencing all the houses we have stayed in. The two cyanotype prints were copied, scaled and arranged on the one sheet with the captions: ‘Keys to the homes where we have lived …’ and, ‘A Field Study Emanation for 2016 by Victoria Cooper + Doug Spowart’.

Each A5 print is numbered and signed and the edition is 100. Each contributor gets a copy of the assembled works and some copies are sold to support the project and the group that helps make it happen.


Cooper+Spowart Field Studies 2016 contribution

Cooper+Spowart Field Study 2016 contribution


Submissions for 2016 are now closed however, get ready for 2017. For more information about Field Study and other projects see: https://daviddellafiora.blogspot.com.au/

About Field Study:

Field Study began in 1993 as a way of reclaiming the negative spaces between art and life. Activities stemming from Field Study are emanations and group emanations are manifestations. Field Study sees each work as a manifestation of a collective spirit. Everyone is welcome to become a member of Field Study, irrespective of their arts practice, and contribute to the Field Report. Field Study also produces the assembling publications WIPE and ReSite, and, in collaboration with Karingal, KART.


An earlier WOTWEDID Blog post has more detail… Check it out:





NOCTURNE ARMIDALE: a community photo project

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Sam Walkom's Imperial Hotel through the Post Office's arche

Sam Walkom’s Imperial Hotel rephotography DUO taken through the Post Office’s arches


NOCTURNE ARMIDALE: Capturing Armidale in a new light          

In our latest Nocturne project we worked with a group of photographers from the Armidale region to document the change of light from day to night. The special theme we developed for the Nocturne: Armidale project was to capture the town in both the early evening’s nocturnal light with a second photograph of the subject during daylight. This ‘re-photography’ approach resulted in a comparative pairs of images revealing the evocative nature of nocturne light and how it transforms everyday places.


The project began in mid-September when we conducted a workshop at the New England Region Art Museum (NERAM) in re-photography and nocturne light capture. This included practical shoots around Armidale from which images were then optimized and uploaded to Nocturne: Armidale project Facebook page to share with the wider community. Another aspect of the project was the digital processing and optimising of nocturne photographs. This was accomplished in a mentored section of the workshop with the participant’s images.


Doug presenting his workshop on file optimisation

Doug presenting his workshop on file optimisation

A group shot of some of the Nocturne Armidale participants

A group shot of some of the Nocturne Armidale participants PHOTO: Neil Burton


Les Davis from the National Trust Home Saumarez, provided project participants with a unique opportunity to photograph this magnificent historical homestead. Over two separate nights images were made to highlight the home’s colonial architecture.

It was suggested in our original proposal that the work produced could be at some later stage be exhibited. And during the workshop Greg from the New England Art Society Armidale Art Gallery came forward with the offer of an exhibition space in their gallery.

In the two months following the workshop we finalised the optimisation of 25 pieces from the workshop – most of them re-photography Duos, and printed them for the participants. Other print coordination took place with workshop participant Neil Burton who provided access to his wide-format printer for large images to be made. At the end of November we returned to Armidale with Neil and his partner Lindy Osbourne to hang the shows.


Hanging the Nocturne Armidale exhibition

Hanging the Nocturne Armidale exhibition

Part of the Nocturne Armidale exhibition at the Armidale Art Gallery

Part of the Nocturne Armidale exhibition at the Armidale Art Gallery

The project’s main exhibition was shown at the Armidale Art Gallery in Beardy Street and we presented a floortalk on December 3rd that was attended by around 25 visitors as well as most of the project’s participants. The exhibition of images from the Saumarez shoot-outs was officially opened by photographer and publisher Terry Cooke on December 2 and will remain on display at Saumarez until January 29th, 2017. A third exhibition of photographs included our images and works by Neil Burton will be on show in the Armidale Council Chambers until March 5, 2017.


With Terry Cooke, Les Davis and Neil Burton at the opening of the Saumarez show

With Terry Cooke, Les Davis and Neil Burton at the opening of the Saumarez show PHOTO: Lindy Osbourne

Vicky presenting a floortalk about the Nocturne show

Vicky presenting a floortalk about the Nocturne show


The Nocturne: Armidale exhibitions include photographs by Paul Bayne, Sue Burgess, Neil Burton, Victoria Cooper, Les Davis, Ross Jenkins, Jeni Mackenzie, Doug Spowart, Sam Walkom and Jim Walmsley.

Here is a selection of the Nocturne Armidale project images…

Click on image to open a gallery viewer for author and subject details.



Robert Heather, the Director of NERAM described us as a ‘nomadic photographic duo’ and acknowledged that we had, with our group of local photographers, had ‘braved cold, wet and windy conditions to create some beautiful and dramatic images of places which we all know well such as the old Courthouse, Saumarez Homestead, the cathedrals, hotels and railway station.”


The New England FOCUS Magazine published a story on our work and background to the Nocturne Armidale project – Download a PDF focus-nocturnearmidale-red (20Mb)

NE 38_.indd


The Nocturne: Armidale project was coordinated by the New England Regional Art Museum in partnership with the New England Art Society and supported by Saumarez Homestead and Armidale Regional Council.



Regtta Hotel, Brisbane - rephotography DUO

Regatta Hotel, Brisbane – Rephotography DUO


Nocturne photography captures a time of day where the afterglow of sunset and the glow of streetlights can transform the everyday experience of place. In these photographs, street scenes and buildings that may be familiar in normal daylight take on the dramatic appearance of movie sets. Some photographs created at this time can require long camera exposures and therefore produce images that can capture blurred movement of people and car headlight trails. These images offer to the community a different perspective to their daily experience of place.


Nocturne Armidale Logo

Nocturne Armidale Logo


NOCTURNE: ARMIDALE, the project is part of continuing series, conducted by Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart, across Eastern Australia including past events in Muswellbrook, Grafton, Bundaberg and Miles.

Through our Nocturne documentary photography and Facebook social media projects, we have explored connections with Place in urban and regional communities throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. For us the phenomenon of nocturnal light transforms these everyday spaces. Buildings, busy street corners, quiet alleyways all become filled with the dramatic light of a movie scene. In 2013 and 2014 we were given the opportunity, through funded Artists-in-Residence (AIR) programmes, to undertake Nocturne projects in the regional communities of Muswellbrook, Grafton and Bundaberg.


The photographs in themselves have no intrinsic meaning – it is the viewer, with their experience and memory that brings life to the image. In this moment of connection they may recount a personal narrative or connect with the historical significance of the place. This collaboration between photograph and viewer is exciting and vibrant – expanding the potential for the documentary image to go beyond the vision of the photographer.


Examples of other Nocturne Projects and Facebook responses can be found at: <www.nocturnelink.com>



Cooper+Spowart shooting Nocturne

Cooper+Spowart shooting Nocturne


Our arts practice is informed by our ongoing and evolving connection with Place. Our Place-Projects are influenced by the context and the consequences of living within a constantly changing landscape. We work with a range of photographic concepts, from the camera obscura, through analogue processes to the digital forms of the medium. Our work is presented as visual narratives in artists’ books, photobooks, exhibition images and and on blogs and social media.





Copyright in all Nocturne Armidale project images is retained by the author – any use of these photographs must be approved by the copyright owner.




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CCP Header

CCP Header


Australia’s largest open-entry exhibition and competition, CCP Salon, is now in its 24th year and our photobook “YOU ARE HERE…” is in the show.

Presented by Leica and Ilford, with support from Affinity, this annual event celebrates the latest developments in photomedia practice around the country, and provides an exciting opportunity to exhibit work in a professional, high-profile context. Supported by 21 national leaders in the photographic industry, CCP Salon awards up to $20,000 worth of prizes over 26 categories, and visitors are invited to vote for their favourite image in the Michaels People’s Choice Award.


JUDGES: Janina Green – Artist, Dylan Rainforth – Writer, Michelle Mountain CCP Program Manager, Naomi Cass, CCP Director – Non-voting Chair. Winners of the different categories will be announced at the opening on November 24th. The exhibition continues until December 17.


You are here...

You are here…

'You are here..." Cover and codex opening

‘You are here…” Cover and codex opening


“You are here” a collaborative artists’ book by Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart


This book is inspired by many years of travelling through the Pilliga Scrub along the Newell Highway in central western NSW.

On this major highway there is another journey for the road traveller that can take them metaphorically into outer space. This tourist attraction is called the “Solar System Drive” and extends from Belatta to Dubbo. The planets placed on signs along the highway lead to the “sun” which is located in the centre of the array at Siding Springs Space Observatory in the Warrumbungle National Park.

You are here traverses the liminal space between these two journeys, playing with the philosophical questions of place, space and time.


Details of the book: Pigment inks on cotton rag inkjet paper, 14 x 20 x3cm – extends to 6.3metres.


'You are here..." detail

‘You are here…” detail

"You are here..." back detail

“You are here…” back detail

'You are here..." detail

‘You are here…” detail



Planning the narrative of “You are here…” earlier this year.





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