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Archive for the ‘Regional arts’ Category

FOUND: A camera obscura in a storage shed box

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An image is found in a packing box

An image is found in a packing box

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

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

From that moment we stopped all work…

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

 

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A video featuring the performance …

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

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

 

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OTHER COOPER+SPOWART CAMERA OBSCURA POSTS:

 

A collection of camera obscura works

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

 

A porthole camera obscura on the Spirit of Tasmania

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

 

A gallery camera obscura

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

 

Our Tarago CarCamera Obscura

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

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Until the next obscura reveals itself …

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LYSSIOTIS+COOPER+SPOWART: WE ARE LIBRIS AWARD Finalists

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

 

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A statement from the Artspace Director Tracey Heathwood

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

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

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

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

 

 

HERE ARE THE BOOKS we were involved with :

 

PETER LYSSIOTIS:  WHAT THE MOON LET ME SEE

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Peter Lyssiotis: What The Moon Let Me See

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

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

 

 

VICTORIA COOPER:  BEING PRESENT

 

 

Victoria Cooper’s BEING PRESENT

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

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

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

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

 

 

 

DOUG SPOWART:  HOME

 

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Doug Spowart’s book  HOME

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

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

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

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

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Libris_Catalogue pic

 

Download a copy of the Catalogue:

LIBRIS_AWARDS-2020_Finalists_Catalogue

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SEE Other WOTWEDID.COM posts about the LIBRIS AWARDS:

Our FINALIST work from the 2018 Awards

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

A COMMENT on the 2016 Awards

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Museum Project at the Lismore Regional Gallery

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

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

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

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

 

The Looking at Photos in the Gallery booklet

The Looking at Photos in the Gallery booklet

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

VICTORIA COOPER: Scroll works 1998-2003

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Victoria Cooper: Portrait

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

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

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

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

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Montage and digital narratives

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

 

About my digital montage scroll works

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

The virtual to the physical

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

 

The Five Stories from the Gorge Scrolls

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Chaos and Order scrolls alongside the Hillside scroll

The Chaos and Order scrolls alongside the Hillside scroll

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Victoria Cooper

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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On Judging a Regional Art Award

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The Somerset Bendigo Bank Art Award – July 26, 2019

 

I spent most of the day at Esk in south-east Queensland judging a regional art award organised by the Somerset Art Society. The Awards attracted a diverse collection of 337 artworks ranging from re-purposed kitchenalia made into sculptures to delicate fine ceramics, to tapestries, photographs and the traditional oil on canvas. Decisions about what was the ‘best’ art in 4 main categories and 4 other special awards were required to be made with my judging partner Dr Beata Batorowicz, artist and Associate Professor from the University of Southern Queensland. The curator of the event and the judging process was LeAnne Vincent.

 

Beata + Doug Photo: Victoria Cooper

 

Let the judging begin

As a judge I have an interest and expectation that I will receive a story from each artwork. The communiqué could be about the artist’s insight or comment about some idea or issue and it must resonate in some way to transform or challenge my understanding of the world. After a judge’s briefing by LeAnne we individually reviewed the works that had been hung on moveable wall panels and plinths within the expanses of the Somerset Civic Centre. Works from each of the 3 2D categories of (1) painting and works on paper, (2) fabrics and (3) photography were grouped for easy viewing and comparison on the panels. The 3D works were arranged in the central gallery and front gallery areas.

At the end of our first review Beata and I met and discussed the work generally and looked at works that had left a strong impressions with us. We walked around the gallery again this time in conversation gaining an understanding not only about the works but also each other’s point of view, opinions and our perceived strengths or weaknesses of certain works. The selection of Beata and myself as judges brought together an opportunity to utilise the overlap of our individual arts practice and our understanding of artmaking processes and storyteling through art.

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Judges among the display panels PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

The regional artist and their role in community beyond the Awards

Over an afternoon coffee with my partner Victoria Cooper I reflected upon the role of the artist in regional communities. As the viewer of many artworks today I had received and been touched by so many stories and communiqués. I thought about the important role of artists in recording and documenting their lived experience. And how in a changing world these artworks come to be a history of place, a touchstone for the issues, moods and interests of that time.

 

Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery

Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery

 

Art tourism in regional Australia

In the afternoon Vicky and I visited the Somerset Regional Art Gallery at The Condensery in the small town Toogoolawah just north of Esk. Formerly a condensed milk factory it has been repurposed into an art gallery with two exhibition spaces.

I thought about how art tourism is a burgeoning catch cry in regional Australia. Fine examples include Toowoomba’s First Coat Street Art initiative that brings visitors to that community and the Silo art project in Central/western Victoria that has created a boon to local businesses. Tourists now don’t drive through the town; they now stop and stay to take in those large-scale silo mural projects.

Perhaps with this growing interest in art tourism and the wealth of artwork abundantly visible in this exhibition it may be time to consider the The Condensery as a major regional gallery space with the funding for and arts manager/curator to oversee the display and management of the arts facility.

The various sponsors of the art awards including the major sponsor the Bendigo Bank clearly support the artists and their community. The Hon. Shayne Neumann federal member for Blair, and Somerset Mayor Graham Lehman speaking at the awards event both identified and praised the importance of the arts to the community. So perhaps now is the time for the next step.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

 

The formal group at the Awards presentation night…… PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

THE AWARDS

We selected the 3D category first and reviewed personal favourites and their stories – sometimes guided by the title. We were also interested in the techniques employed and the way the artwork operated within the 3D space. A small bronze work entitled Swim Squad by Mela Cooke was selected as the First Prize. The sculpture represents a stilled moment of two figures by a pool. Swimming togs and bathing caps in a greenish patina clad the two young female figures their legs dawn up encircled by arms and clasped by hand.

(Photographs from the SASI website courtesty of LeAnne Vincent)

 

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Next we approached the textiles and I was interested in Beata’s insights into the range of materials and techniques presented. Works I this category included traditional tapestry, contemporary image-making through materials collaged together with extensive over-sewing. The First Prize winner and the inaugural Hetty Van Boven Textile Award was Elisabeth Czaia with her work Afternoon Shadow. The work was the representation of a room interior with the perspective flattened to resemble a two-dimensional space. The colour scheme was a riot of colour predominantly green with accents of purple and tangerine.

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The Photography category consisted of a variety approaches to the discipline from traditional pictorialism to contemporary digital montage. Gerry O’Connor won the First Prize with a portrait entitled Warren Palmer Artist. The monochrome photograph was large in size and was frank in its direct and powerful presentation of the subject.

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Painting/Works on paper was won by a mult-coloured woodblock print by Owen Hutchison entitled The Long Flight…and some stars fell into the sea. This large print suggested a mythical allegory that spoke of flight and a night journey.

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Youth Award was won by a large drawing by Aneldi van Wyck. Entitled My identity that was a self-portrait. The drawing was skillfully and carried out honouring the media of its creation.

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Sharon McKenzie with Woven Destiny 3 won the special prize category of Susan Cory Contemporary Award. Originally submitted in the fabric section this work exhibited a very contemporary use of various materials over layered with hand sewing. There is a feeling of the work being just put down as threads dangle as if there is more work to be done.

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The award of The Best In Show was won by Margaret Underdown with her painting Home Paddock. Though a representational landscape in style this large work captured the emotive spirit of place. For both Beata and I have driven down from Toowoomba that morning where the ranges were enshrouded in mist and the early morning light diffused – that may have contributed to our consensus on that decision.

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One prize was awarded by votes cast by attendees to the exhibition. The People’s Choice was won by Kathy Ellem with her painting of a male horseman entitled Edges.

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President of SASI Betty Williams thanks curator LeAnne Vincent PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

THE FULL AWARDS LIST: 2019 Somerset Bendigo Bank Art Award Winners

 

$5000 Best of Show – Margaret Underdown, Home Paddock

$1000 Photography Prize – Gerry O’Connor, Warren Palmer Artist

Highly Commended PhotographyLinda McPhee The Second Best Café in Town and Wayne Gillis Satin Bower Bird Male

$1000 3D Prize – Mela Cooke, Swim Squad

Highly Commended 3DRussell Solomon, Have They Always Been Here and Carol Forster, Love Not War

$1000 Painting/Works on paper Prize – Owen Hutchison, The Long Flight…and some stars fell into the sea

$750 Painting/Works on paper Prize – Charmaine Davis, Mountain

Highly Commended Painting/Works on paper – Clay Dawson, Ships in the Night and Odessa Mahony de Vries Sea view

$1000 Hetty Van Boven Textile Award – Elisabeth Czaia, Afternoon Shadow

Highly Commended Textile Wendy Houston, Dear Stag and Jodie Wade, Grass Trees

$500 Susan Cory Contemporary Prize – Sharon McKenzie, Woven Destiny 3

$500 Youth Prize – Aneldi Van Wyk, My Identity

$500 Somerset Artist Prize – Marcel Desbiens, Transition

People’s Choice – Kathy Ellem, Edges

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Somerset Bendigo Bank Art Awards sign

Photographs of the artworks are from the SASI website courtesty of LeAnne Vincent

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ADELAIDE HERE WE COME – BEST PHOTOBOOKS & WORKSHOP

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Adelaide Road Trip

 

The Australian and New Zealand Photobook Awards have been to Hobart, Canberra and Brisbane and now we are taking them to Adelaide.

The presentation of the books, a talk about the photobooks by Doug Spowart and a one-day workshop will be hosted by us at Adelaide’s Centre for Creative Photography.

 

ANZ Photobook Awards Finalists

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COME AND SEE THE BEST AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND PHOTOBOOKS

On Saturday September 28 the books will be on show from 10am–4.00pm. The Official Launch, the announcement of the People’s Choice Award and a talk about photobooks by Doug Spowart will take place at 2.00pm.

There is no charge to view the books and attending the talk however we do request that you book via this Eventbrite link: https://tinyurl.com/y225btkx

 

 

 

Arranging photos

ATTEND A ONE-DAY PHOTOBOOK WORKSHOP

On Sunday September 29 photobook road trip co-ordinators Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart will present concepts and hands on practical exercises for working on photobook projects. These are designed to assist the photographer in distilling images from their archives and then structure them into an engaging narrative flow. The workshop includes practical work in hand-making photobook formats and preparing book ideas for Print-on-Demand output.

There is a charge to attend the workshop – Details of the workshop and booking information can be found on this Eventbrite Link: https://tinyurl.com/y2pnpbhu

 

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Victoria Cooper & Doug Spowart acknowledge the support of MomentPro Photobooks and the Centre for Creative Photography in making this event possible.

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BEAUTIFUL FRUIT – Tilley Wood+Linda Spowart

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Beautiful Fruit Invite

 

Beautiful Fruit installation PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Beautiful Fruit installation in the Sidespace Gallery at Salamanca   ……….   PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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A Fruitful Place – a review by Victoria Cooper

 

Place, of course, as opposed to the more generalized ‘site’ or ‘land,’ is a specific collaboration between nature and people, constantly altered and inevitably defined by narratives from the contact zones.[1]

This exhibition is the result of a collaborative interaction between the artists, the cotoneaster tree and its environment. The intent was to create visual responses to observations of the tree and its rhythms over time that forms:

… a dedication to and recording of this tree. Its life is multifaceted, one that connects to and affects the space and people around it. Its vital and variable presence is what they are drawn to and present here. This exhibition is the fruit of the artists and subject together.

Tilley Wood artist with light 4 + light 5, 2019 Oil on canvas ………. PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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Although Linda and Tilley approached the project from two different perspectives both were influenced by the phenomena of light and wind to define the tree, its form and movement. Tilley’s paintings of the tree evoked a poetic place illuminated by memory. Linda’s prints were layered using cyanotype photograms[2] or inks in contact with parts of the tree and its surroundings, then over printed with gesso and drawings were full of detail referencing the visual language of botanical illustration and empirical scientific evidence gathering.

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Debris 1 Linda Spowart 2019Ink, gesso and graphite on cotton .......... PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Debris 1 Linda Spowart 2019Ink, gesso and graphite on cotton ………. PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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As part of their investigation, the artists individually and collaboratively created through direct contact with parts of the tree: leaves, fruit and branches, they made more cyanotype photograms. These prints were more like impressions, rather than the detailed recording of scientific photographs. On one wall at the entrance to the main gallery there was an impressive installation of these blue prints creating a feeling for the tree’s blue shadowy and dappled light space.

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Beautiful Fruit Nos. 3-13 Tilley Wood+Linda Spowart 2019 Wet Cyanotype & gold leaf on cotton

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The cotoneaster tree was both subject and collaborator in this exhibition. As part of their investigations, the artists attached drawing devices to branches of the tree in order that it would self record its movement without the intervention of the artists’ hand. This is an important methodology for many artists as it opens up an inclusive space where the agency or ‘voice’ of objects and other life-forms as collaborators can present new and surprising perspectives. Australian artist, Cameron Robbins[3], presented the drawings that were formed through devices attached to a windmill to record the movement of the wind around Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Tasmania. Robbins intent was

… to connect to landscape, and to the greater dynamic of the whole climate system; how patterns move through a particular location. For me, that’s the most direct way to access the greater energies and forces around us.’ Cameron Robbins[4]

 

Tree Drawings #0001- #0026  ………. PHOTO: Doug Spowart

 

Art when made in collaboration with both human and non-human entities involves a corporeal, sensate empathy that evolves over time spent in contact within their space and place. These are dynamic contact zones where human and nature interaction can stimulate the development of alternative views and knowledge to bring fresh ways of understanding the changing world we share with Others. Both Tilley and Linda have engaged with the Place that is the tree, not to objectify or imitate, but to wonder, imagine, transform and be transformed.

 

Dr Victoria Cooper

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NOTES:
[1] Stuart, M & Lippard, L 2010, Michelle Stuart, Sculptural Objects: Journeys In & Out of the Studio, Charta, Milano, page 11.
[2] The Cyanotype process was developed by Sir John Herschel in the 1840’s and at this time 19 th century botanist Anna Atkins used the process to document her plant specimens. The process: water colour paper or cloth is coated with a chemical made by the light sensitive combination of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate. After drying, objects placed on the material and then exposed in sunlight. Ultra-violet light is required and exposure times may be 8-10 minutes although times may vary depending on the time of year – or day. Many photographer also expose enlarged contact negatives of photographs onto the cyanotype emulsion.
[3] Cameron Robbins, Field Lines, MONA see https://mona.net.au/museum/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/cameron-robbins-field-lines
[4] ibid. an in-text quote from the article by the curators, Nicole Durling and Olivier Varenne

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