Archive for the ‘Regional arts’ Category
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.
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…
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” 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.
Planning the narrative of “You are here…” earlier this year.
As a final event for Maud’s Festival of the Darkroom on November 26 between 12.00 Noon and 4.00pm we worked with Louis Lim to convert the Maud Gallery front room into a public Camera Obscura. We invited members of the Brisbane photo community to join with us for a look back to the origins of photography.
What follows are photos from the event…
Set-up day with Louis Lim, Ana Paula Estrada and Gillian Jones
Cooper+Spowart: 16 years of Camera Obscura Collaborations
In our collaborative work, we are interested in both the physical construct and cultural conventions that inform and shape us. This includes the common rituals and structures that surround, support and transport us in our everyday lives. In this work we have extended the context of documentary photographic methodology to include the narrative potential of the camera obscura and architectural projections.
In the camera obscura work the viewer’s perception of the everyday is spatially challenged. The structures that can form camera obscura are everywhere, but some spaces present themselves as clearly suitable for the making. This could be a city office, a motel room, a country bathroom or even a car. Our work attempts to contextualize the experience of the camera obscura within a concept, space or site. Upon entering the darkened space, the viewer is initially displaced, as the familiar image of the everyday is dim and unrecognizable. Then after time spent in the camera obscura, the image becomes clearer and the familiar is re-established ultimately resulting in a relocation of the observer’s awareness of place.
Some background on the set-up for the Travelodge camera obscura:
Simple black garbage bags and some black electrical tape from the local 711 store. An aperture cut from a ‘found’ piece of aluminium – size around 8mm … we don’t use sophisticated glass lenses – these are direct light projections. A digital camera bares witness to our experience by capturing the image of the camera obscura projection.
OUR MOST RECENT CAMERA OBSCURA: ORPHEUS ISLAND BEACH TENT
(A collaborative event with John de Rooy, Spyder Displays and the Orpheus Is Photo Workshop)
TO VIEW OTHER CAMERA OBSCURA WORK BY COOPER AND SPOWART SEE THE LINKS
Our car converted into a camera obscura and driven across Australia:
Two New Zealand Camera Obscuras in the the Queenstown Rydges Hotel:
A public Camera Obscura performance and live video:
A camera obscura at the Queenstown Centre for Creative Photography:
A World Pinhole Day Camera Obscura at Mt Barney:
© 2013 Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart for 16 Years of Camera Obscuras Project
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
ARTLANDS DUBBO CONFERENCE: Regional voices missing
Today we were to present a paper at the ARTLAND DUBBO REGIONAL ARTS AUSTRALIA CONFERENCE. Earlier this year we made a submission based on one of the conference themes and were excited to learn that our submission was accepted and that we were going to be able to add our story and project activities in regional arts in Australia to the conference.
However, then we found that the conference fees, despite ‘early bird’ and presenter discounts, combined with the costs to get to Dubbo and be accommodated were enormous. We had to look at support options for grants in Arts Queensland and the Regional Arts Fund and we found that none either ‘fitted’ with our needs or could be responded to in time to register. We therefore withdrew our presentation.
As regional artists, although we’ve been in Brisbane of late, and also independent researchers we have noticed many opportunities at conferences and seminars now require presenters to fund their place in the program. Now that might be affordable to academics, those employed in arts management or facilitation or those who have taxable incomes where such can be an allowable income tax deduction, but others just cannot afford to bear such costs.
It seems to us that many voices in the field of art in Australia are being kept out of the conversation by the cost of participation and the lack of grant support.
There is no doubt that ARTLANDS DUBBO will be a success and all who attend will benefit greatly from the shared experience and networking possible but for us, on this occasion, we stayed at home and worked on our art.
For those interested what follows is our proposal that related to the conference theme – REGENERATION: Exploring arts and cultural development using creativity that positively impacts on community vitality and well being.
Artists in residence programs provide unique opportunities for artists to explore their practice while contributing to the community’s cultural development. We will discuss ‘3 tiers’ of community engagement in our Nocturne AIR Projects: artist as creator, community as creator, and social media as a creative flux for interactive engagement.
We will present a background on the Centre for Regional Arts Practice (Centre) that we formed in 2007 as a response to the circumstances and challenges of artists living in regional Australia. From the beginning the ‘Centre’ has engaged in advocacy, representation, commentary and the development of projects for regional artists and the communication of regional art perspectives.
The ‘Centre’ engages in artist in residency programmes that enable the development of community based Nocturne Projects. These projects have been sponsored through the regional galleries of Muswellbrook, Grafton, Bundaberg, Miles and Armidale. We have also self-funded Nocturne documentary projects across eastern Australia and Tasmania.
3 Tiers of Engagement
In developing the methodology for our AIR Nocturne Projects we identified 3 tiers of community engagement, these are:
- artist as creator;
- community as creator: artist as facilitator; and
- social media as creative flux for interactive engagement.
Artist as creator:
We will talk about how our AIR work allows us to explore themes, both personal and collaborative, in the investigation and representation of “site” and “place” in the Australian landscape. We work to connect contemporary social issues with historical, scientific and mythological insights intrinsic to each site. Critical to, and inherent in, this work is these visual narratives that are deeply rooted in the recording and interaction with each place.
Community as creator – artist as facilitator:
Beyond our own work Nocturne AIR Projects we develop, in conjunction with the local gallery education officers programmes that provide creative development to suit each community’s needs. Included in these programmes may be workshops, practical digital photography shoot-outs and assignment work, image enhancement and file optimisation, one-on-one mentoring, developing social media skills as well as photobook and zine making.
Participants, whether they use hi-tech DSLR cameras, point-n-shoot cameras, tablets or smart phones, connect through meetings and workshop sessions. To provide a continuous stream of inspiration, feedback, instruction and support we establish closed Facebook groups for participants.
Social Media as a creative flux for interactive engagement:
All of the major Nocturne AIR Projects are connected to the broader community by a Facebook page. It enables an online space for sharing and presenting the project work. In the more recent projects, where there was an issue of distance for the regional community members to participate in the project, we managed two FB pages: one for those closely involved in the creative development of the Nocturne Project and another for the gathering and sharing stories through the broader community.
Using the methodology of the three tiers of engagement we believe we explore arts and cultural development using creativity that positively impacts on community vitality and well-being.
Western Downs Regional Council’s Community Development Officer Carollee Murphy stated the following about our Nocturne Miles Project:
Thank you for empowering our community with practical photography and book-making skills. Nocturne Miles installed a greater sense of shared space and community pride. The multi-modal outcomes of this project have been far-reaching, especially through social media and have painted Miles and district in a new light.
A LINK TO OUR NOCTURNE PROJECTS CAN BE FOUND HERE
We came to Orpheus to share our knowledge, skills and experience of photography and the book. We were ready to assist and encourage – motivate and create with the participants… We had plotted and planned for months – but nothing could have prepared us for the Orpheus experience we were to have!
We were amazed with the boundless energy and enthusiasm for all things photography. In particular:
• Everyone’s participation in the lecture presentations
• The amazing camera obscura that John de Rooy & Spyder Displays had made
• The fun everyone had with pinhole imaging, lumen printing and other ‘photo play’ projects
• The playful and the deeply considered work made by everyone
• The individual creative development towards making books
• The joy that everyone expressed from making and crafting fine images and books
We appreciated the special access to the incredible equipment from Kayell, Hasselblad, Nikon, Epson and ProPhoto.
The support workers and organisers were photo experts, construction workers and logistical whizzes while always with a smile and good humour. So much happens behind the scenes of the great Orpheus Drama. But there was another endless creative space – the kitchen. And it was those that worked from dawn to well after we all had dined that we owe our sustained creative energy, fed our bodies and delighted our taste buds.
All this made the working environment possible as we, with the amazing Les Walkling, worked together to share our knowledge, passion and inspiration for photography. It was inspiring for us working with Les – his dedication to sharing his great knowledge and experience. He is truly unique in Australian photography. Thank you also for your words about our contribution to the Orpheus Photo Workshop …
… I loved every minute of the ‘Doug & Vicky Roadshow’, and I even ‘re-named’ the main lecture theatre the ‘Doug and Vicky Studio’. What memorable times were had in and around that space. Every aspect of Doug and Vicky’s presentations were informative and entertaining, and I don’t think I have ever loved photo books so much, nor ‘played’ so joyfully with my photography. What a difference it makes working with skilled presenters who are at the top of their field and not afraid to share their love and devotion to what we all adore; our photography. I can’t thank them enough for their contribution to Orpheus 2016, their generosity and tireless expansiveness, and the difference they have made to our photographic lives.
WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN ALBUM OF PHOTOS FROM THE WORKSHOP
The ‘staff’ take a break in a pinhole time-lapse movie made by Ross Eason…
Special thank you to:
John and Pam de Rooy our hosts and organisers – the rocks that underpin Orpheus
Tutors Murray, Ross and Rod for their ever-present support
Brenda, Dave and Nikolaj – an amazing Chef team
Marta and Jimmy from the JCU Research Facility – where would we be without their support?
Libby and Geoff from MomentoPro for their enthusiasm and collaboration in the book projects
Epson, Kayell and Canson for the fabulous papers and printers
William from Hasselblad and John from Kayell for the exceptional access to the gear
Nikon and the wonderful range of quality professional camera equipment.
AND… A very special thank you to all the photographers, now new friends, with whom we shared the experience of Orpheus 2016 …
We are now getting ready for our next island workshop: on the Greek island of SKOPELOS
May 2017 for 2 weeks of art photography about ‘place’ making cyanotypes and photobooks + Greek culture, wine and food. SEE HERE FOR MORE INFO
A COMMENT ON THE 2016 LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARDS
In his announcement speech for the 2016 Libris Awards at Artspace Mackay judge Sasha Grishin makes the observation that: ‘The contemporary artists book is characterised by boundless freedom’, and adds that: ‘… it has absorbed many conceptual frameworks, many art mediums and technologies and goes across the spectrum of the senses.’
Visitors to Artspace and the Libris Awards encounter an open space with islands of book presentation devices. Plinths of all sizes – some encased, others at floor level, there are shelves on walls, books as mobile installations hung from the ceiling and other books with ‘pages’ covering large expanses of wall. This is not an easy walk-through exhibition as each work beckons, siren-like, calling for the extended gaze of the reader.
On this occasion the winners were:
- Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists Book Award $10,000 Acquisitive Award went to George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, for Europa to Oceania.*
Grishin’s comments about the work were:
After much soulsearching I decided to allot the winning entry for the major prize to a collaborative and fabulous artists book by two Melbourne‐based artists, George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by the novelist and playwright Antoni Jach, titled Europa to Oceania. The three linocuts are by Angela, the three collographs are by George and there are another two collaborative foldout prints. The two artists, one of Greek extraction, the other from Calabria in Italy, with wit, profundity and beauty explore the migrant experience at a time when the Australian social fabric is under stress with the question of refugees and migration.
Highly commended in this award were:
Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison’s Closer to Natural
Monica Oppen’s Metropolis
Tim Moseley’s Kange pholu wanda
Peter Lyssiotis’ Blind Spot
- Mackay Regional Council Regional Artists Book Award for a local artist went to May‐Britt Mosshamer for Tapping the knowledge.*
Grishin’s comments about the work were:
As much as one fought the temptation, the $2,500 award had to go to the local artist, May‐Britt Mosshamer and her effective piece Tapping the knowledge. In art you can say very important things with a bit of humour in your back pocket. This work is all about the flood of information and the drought in knowledge.
The highly commended, or runner‐up entries in this category were:
Denise Vanderlugt’s I used to wrap rainbows
Jo Mitchell’s For Mary
- Artspace Mackay Foundation Youth and Student Artists Book Award (under 26years), went to Brooke Ferguson and her The Small Garden (for M.S.).*
Judge Grishin’s comment on the work:
This is an award that is about taking risks, a punt and choosing the unexpected, the promising and the challenging. It is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for an emerging artist to gain national recognition plus a handy fistful of dollars. I selected the work by the 25‐year‐old Brisbane‐based artist, Brooke Ferguson and her The Small Garden (for M.S.) The MS stands for the wonderful veteran artist, Madonna Staunton, where young Brooke Ferguson was inspired by a poem by Staunton and with gouache, pen and ink and pencil has created a fragile concertina – a beautiful sensibility from a promising young artist.
In my opinion some books call for special mention. Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition is transfixing. The suspended brown paper sheets with a hand printed letterpress phrases from poetry by Angela Gardner are animated by the flow of air and movement in the space. Forever moving, the oscillation of the pages becomes a machine for the generation of concrete poetry… phrases twirl and merge, poetic moments where new meaningful/less messages materialise.
The individual pages of Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution are pinned to the wall making what may seem like a vast wallpaper pattern. However, Stayt’s work invites a closer reading of the cipher hidden within the layers of the image. He presents some big questions where contemporary notions of tradition are challenged and rapidly changing technology has intertwined agency in the evolutionary pathway for humanity.
Julie Barratt’s Blair Athol recut refers to Solastalgia: a theory on the contemporary human condition for a deep loss of place. In one part of the installation there is a book of dark photolithographs where maps are encroached upon by black inks. For the reader this growing blackness evokes a gloomy absence. Facing the dark pages in the clamshell container are vials of coloured soils, plant fragments and found objects. Although collected from this disturbed place, these samples are vibrant and alive – perhaps they are the vestiges of childhood memories that recall a different time before the destruction of the physical place by coal mining.
Many books feature photographs as the primary carrier of the narrative. Ana Paula Estrada’s Memorandum employs the medium to document elderly people and their connection with life through personal photographs and how their memories are re-lived through viewing these photos. The book, conceived and made through the Siganto Foundation Creative Fellowship in the Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland, is a complex assemblage of contemporary portraits, photo-glimpses from family albums and a narrative conveyed through the turning of pages.
As usual the artists’ book as exhibition defies direct touch and the turning of pages for narratives to be revealed and for the book to speak of what it has allowed the artist to create. But for the 72 books in the exhibition to be read the visitor would need to stay for the duration of the exhibition, working through the night with white gloves and torchlight. The exhibition reconnects and continues the significant contribution of the Artspace Mackay’s Libris Award to inspire artists and create a space discourse on the book in all its forms. In doing so the assembled exhibition represents cutting edge survey of Australian artists’ book practice.
Some works will become part of the Artspace Mackay collection; others will be re-packaged and returned to their makers. While the exhibition is dispersed its spirit will continue in the form of the gallery’s excellent illustrated catalogue, the text of Grishin’s speech, reviews, videos and other commentaries such as this, as well as the memories of the readers who viewed the show.
In two years time – the next iteration of this important event in the Australian artists’ book calendar will take place again. Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole collection could be purchased and held in perpetuity as a record of the discipline? Until then …
Dr Doug Spowart
16 October 2016
A VIDEO FLY-THRU OF THE EXHIBITION
OTHER BOOKS FROM THE EXHIBITION
All photographs and videos ©2015 Doug Spowart. Main text (except Judge Sasha Grishin’s words) ©2015 Doug Spowart With thanks to Victoria Cooper for her suggestions and edits.
We are travelling up to north Queensland at the end of September for a month of artists’ book and photography projects, workshops and lectures.
Our Journey …
September 27 ROCKHAMPTON: CAPRICORNIA PRINTMAKERS
We will present an evening talk about our artists books/photobooks and the Siganto Foundation Research Fellowships work we have been doing in the Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland.
September 29 MACKAY: ARTSPACE MACKAY as part of the LIBRIS AWARDS PROGRAM
Here are the details…
October 2-8 ORPHEUS ISLAND
Here are the details…
October 16-22 WINTON: NOCTURNE WINTON – To be confirmed
See our other Nocturne Projects … HERE
A few images like those we could be making at Winton follow…
CONTACT US FOR DETAILS OF ANY OF OUR JOURNEYS NORTH ACTIVITIES