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The man who photographed every house in Australia

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BACK STORY on the FRANK & EUNICE CORLEY HOUSE PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION

in the State Library of Queensland and the exhibition HOME: a suburban obsession

 

Imagery Gallery – with my mother and business partner Ruby Spowart

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From 1980 to 1995 I was co-director, with my mother Ruby, of Imagery (photography) Gallery (1). The gallery operated in 3 locations in South Brisbane two of them being on the corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets. Although our main business activity was a photographic gallery and workshop we were also suppliers for specialised equipment for photographers – one of them was the famous Leica 35mm camera. As a Leica user myself since the early 1970s my special knowledge of this equipment was not so much from the point of view of a salesperson but rather as a user of the full range of Leica cameras, projectors, enlargers, binoculars and accessories in my documentary and art photography practice.

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In the late 1980s or early 1990s an elderly man visited the gallery and exhibited an interest in Leicas. He mentioned that has had been a professional photographer and that he used the older screw mount Leica gear. Initially I saw him as a potential purchaser, though in time and after many visits I realised that this was not to be the case. His name was Frank Corley and I found him to be a storyteller. With each visit came my understanding that he enjoyed the opportunity to talk with someone interested in his life.

Frank lived in Annerley and dined every evening at Sizzlers – he called it “Zizzlers”. He was a dapper man with a hat and very well dressed. His visits to the gallery were easily accomplished by train as the gallery was situated just over the road from the South Brisbane Railway Station.

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Frank’s camera

At one stage in 1994 Frank indicated that he had some Leica equipment he wanted to sell and invited me to his home. I went with my partner Victoria Cooper to his Annerley home. On entering the house one came in contact with the enormity of Frank and his wife’s life as in every room there was ‘stuff’. His partner in his business his wife Eunice had passed away by this time. Everything had a story – a watercolour painting of Central Australia by Ewald Namatjira (if I remember correctly), Frank recounted was purchased by him when he was photographing homes in Alice Springs. He bought the painting from the artist who presented work for sale at the front gate of the caravan park from which Frank was operating his business. We went from room to room looking for the items he wanted to sell which finally amounted to some very out-dated photographic paper, an enlarging easel and an old Leica Focomat enlarger.

We did a tour of the back yard in which were parked several vehicles. One was the now famous Cadillac (though not pink in colour as often described), another was a little like a Bedford delivery van. We went inside and in the back of the vehicle was a compact darkroom, enlargers, trays, and rolls of processed film in special cardboard gridded boxes. It was cramped but functional – later I was to discover that Eunice was the darkroom operator. I had a lot of respect for that lady and her workspace.

In a lean-to shed at the back of the property Frank reached into a large cardboard box and pulled out a handful of black and white prints of houses. He had already told me of his Pan American Home Photographic Company business of photographing houses from the Cadillac (and other vehicles) as he drove down the street steering the car with his knees taking photos. These photographs were subsequently processed and printed and salesmen, sometime Frank himself, would then call back at the houses and sell prints that could be mounted on cards or calendars. The company brand phrase was From Our Home to Your Home.

I looked around and saw maybe 8-10 boxes the size of which would have been 80cmx60cmx60cm and each box was crammed full of prints. I asked how did he end up with so many photographs? His answer was that at the time the sales tax on photographic materials was 27.5% and as he did not have a sales tax exemption number for his business he paid tax when he bought film and photo paper. At the end of each financial year the value of the tax on the unsold photographs could be claimed as a sales tax credit. The volume of work he was doing that was unsold amounted to a reasonable credit but the prints needed to be retained along with other taxation documents for many years. These photographs came from a time 20-25 years earlier and had not been disposed.

 

Some Corley house photographs    Source: State Library of Queensland

I reached into one of the boxes and pulled out a bundle of photos. What I saw were very ‘straight’ photos of houses all with very similar framing, usually recorded almost as plan elevations. The houses look dated to perhaps 20-30 earlier and I sensed that I was holding in my hands a documentary photography history record. I asked Frank what would happen to these photographs when he moved on… his answer was that they’d probably be sent to a silver recovery plant or dumped. Ohhh! I thought. Before leaving Frank that day he posed for a couple of portrait photos with his trusty Leica IIIg.

Frank Corley circa 1994

At this time in my photodocumentary practice I had undertaken re-photography projects where early photographer’s pictures were relocated and re-imaged as a way of showing the passing of time. My own history making photographs and also from building my own collection of photographs from the beginnings of the invention of photography 150 years earlier meant that to me these images were special and needed preserving. I couldn’t let them be lost, not only because they represented Frank’s life work, but also for their historical value.

On leaving Frank’s home I worked through some ideas with Vicky as to what could happen with Frank’s photographs. At the time I was a valuer for the Australian Government’s Taxation Incentives for the Arts a program where the value of donations to cultural institutions could be used as a tax credit for the donor. I had been involved in valuations for the State Library of Queensland so I made contact with some of the people I knew there. I must have sounded convincing, as there was interest in the work from SLQ Field Officer Niles Elvery. I contacted Frank who said that he would be happy to donate the photographs to the Library and in due course I travelled in a Library station wagon driven by Niles back to Frank’s place.

I’m not sure how we fitted the boxes into the station wagon but I remember it being a tight fit. Frank signed a document that Niles had brought with him and we travelled back to the Library. We reckoned that there were around 12,000 photographs.

A few months later I heard via Frank’s solicitor that he had died and that any items that Imagery Gallery was holding of his pending sale needed to be returned. I was somewhat taken by Frank’s passing and as he seemed to be without friends or family around I thought it appropriate that I write an obituary which I published in a journal I edited called PHOTO.Graphy, ISSN 1038-4332 – The Christmas edition, v. 6, 1995. It reads:

FRANK CORLEY: Obituary

Unknown to most of us Frank Corley, a travelling photographer passed away on October 19, 1995. I suppose we all die eventually and our life’s work, the photographs we make are left to the destinies of those who possess them. In a life full of entrepreneurial activities Frank owned and managed a transport business, caravan parks and a lolly shop. A fascination for photography led to the formation of Pan American Studios. Street photography and in particular photographing houses was his big passion.

I call him the man who photographed every house in Australia because if you ever spoke with him about it he made you believe that he did. Frank Corley won’t be missed by many but his legacy ~ his photographs, will live on in private family archives but most significantly through the donation of around 12,000 prints of Queensland homes presented to the John Oxley Library, Brisbane in June this year. This fragment of Frank’s work would have been lost except for a fluke of meeting with me and his generosity.

I just wish there could have been more time to record the experiences that he so happily shared with me.

Doug Spowart   6/11/95

 

The years went by and memory of Frank and his donation were for me a faded memory. In 2015 I was granted a Siganto Foundation Artists’ Book Research Fellowship at the SLQ. One day I met a volunteer called John Wilson at the library and I found out that he had been working for years in trying to unlock the Corley code for the photographs, what town – what street? We spoke about his method of working which was hindered by limited information available in the bundles of prints and scant markings on the prints. John had street directories from Queensland towns which he had identified street names and had himself been out on the road looking to confirm hunches.

Soon after this meeting I met Denis Peel and became aware of the work that the Annerley-Stephens History Group had done in identifying many of Corley’s home photographs from the Fairfield, Annerley, Yeronga, Yeerongpilly, Tennyson and Moorooka areas. As a volunteer group they held meetings, provided teams and individuals with Corley photos who then went out looking to identify houses. A significant Phase One report was generated by the group in 2015. Additional research was subsequently prepared. By June 2016 they reported that they had located over 3000 matching houses. I visited one of their meetings and was impressed by the energy of the volunteers. In 2017 The Annerley-Stephens History Group were awarded the John Oxley Library Community History Award for their continued and highly successful community project. The activities of the group were supported by the State Library through access to the photographs and later aided by the digitisation of the collection that has only recently been completed.

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SLQ Home Website Banner

With the growing interest in the Corley Collection and the recognition of its value as an extensive and unique record of Queensland houses and suburbs the SLQ scheduled the planning and preparation of the exhibition which they have entitled – Home: a suburban obsession. As the facilitator of the donation and my knowledge of Frank and his work I have assisted Chenoa Pettrup and Adam Jefford from the Asia Pacific Design Library wherever possible in the preparations for this show. As an artist/photographer and researcher I appreciate the efforts by the exhibition coordinators to involve appropriately talented and skilled personnel to give this event the opportunity to capture community interest. Special commissions for inclusion in the show include Ian Strange‘s large-scale charcoal rendition of a Queensland home, an  installation by Queensland artist/designer Jennifer Marchant and an immersive Brisbane virtual reality streetscape by [f]FLAT. Assembled in the exhibition space were artists’ books, books, catalogues and photographs from the SLQ collections that highlighted the idea of ‘home’ and included Ed Ruscha, Bernd and Hilla Becher and Australian photographer John Gollings and his Gold Coast works. Alan Scurr, a Leica camera collector collector from Toowoomba loaned camera items for a display of the camera equipment that Frank used.

 

Entry to the exhibition Home: a suburban obsession

Entry to the exhibition Home: a suburban obsession

 

The Home: a suburban obsession offers many significant opportunities:

(1) It reveals how suburban architecture looked 40 or so years ago,

(2) It provides an opportunity for contemporary Queenslanders to connect with their homes of the era,

(3) The historical nature of the photographs will be a provocative agent for nostalgia and, for some solastaligia,

(4) It enables us to appreciate unusual photographic business activities and the partnership that exists in many small photographic enterprises, and

(5) It celebrates the value of the physical photograph as a time capsule.

 

The Internet may have given us the modern invention the Google Street View but in a way the Corleys were doing it 40 years ago – the evidence is in the nearly 62,000 photographs in the collection. Though it is interesting to consider how the digital age and the Corley Explorer Webpage will provide the key to unlocking the code to enable every one of the Corley’s houses to be located and revisited anew.  The process has started and according to SLQ sources the Corley Explorer in the first few weeks has enabled a further 14% of the collection to be identified. SEE the Stories webpage HERE.

Back in Frank Corley’s shed nearly 25 years ago I could never had imagined how those boxes of house photos could provide the amazing opportunities that we are just now encountering with this exhibition and other uses yet to be discovered. But I did know one thing and that is I could not allow them to be lost. I’m sure that Frank would feel quite chuffed that his unsuccessful unsold photographs have finally found success and have made the journey from his home to a their rightful home in the history of Queensland.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

(1) LINK TO: The Imagery Gallery Archive is held in the State Library of Queensland

In the exhibition – I muse that this man was Frank looking at the interest his work has now received…

 

Various links and associated reports and reviews of the Corley Collection follow:

 

The SLQ website for the exhibition:   http://home.slq.qld.gov.au/

SLQ Home Website Banner

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Photographs of the exhibition’s opening event on December 6, 2018

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My video of the exhibition opening


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2 Special commission video projects produced, directed and edited by Shih-Yin Judy Yeh. These videos present the story of Frank and Eunice Corley and the SLQ work with the Corley Collection.

 

SLQ The Corley story Video

 

 

A video describing the SLQ’s  story about the Corley collection, includes information about the donation, conservation and investigation

 

 

A link to the Annerley-Stephens History Group’s Corley project HERE

 

An SLQ event with Denis Peel and Kate Dyson talking about the Annerley-Stephens History Group project HERE

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Frank Corley Wikipedia HERE

 

ArchitectureAu article HERE

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Brisbane News / Sydney Morning Herald Article HERE

 

 

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All photographs © Doug Spowart unless othervise credited. The copyrights in other material and website resides with their relevant copyright owners.

 

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THE QLD PHOTOBOOK CONSORTIA – SUBMISSION National Gallery of Victoria ART BOOK FAIR 2019

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The Queensland Photobook Consortia

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Over the last few weeks we’ve put together a submission from Queensland photobook authors and self-publishers for next year’s National Gallery of Victoria ART BOOK FAIR. The Fair is a huge event attendances of 12-16,000 over the three days of the event have been recorded. The who’s who from collecting institutions, private collectors and fellow exhibitors all view, read – and sometimes purchase books…!  Apart from networking and selling or trading books the Fair has associated with it a program from the Melbourne Design Week.

To celebrate photobooks and to bring together Queensland authors, designers and self-publishers we have formed a group called THE QUEENSLAND PHOTOBOOK CONSORTIA.  Over the next week or so we will find out if our submission has been successful – In the meantime we are interested in hearing from any Queensland photobook maker that we can add to our list of contacts.

HERE IS SOME MORE INFO about the Fair and the Consortia’s submission…

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BLURB FROM THE NGV

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About the Melbourne Art Book Fair

Melbourne Art Book Fair returns for its fifth year in 2019. Since the event began, the publishing and broader creative landscape has undergone many shifts. MABF 2019 asks: what is publishing now? What is encompassed by the term and how can publishing bring about positive change on multiple fronts?

Featuring diverse emerging and established local and international publishers, artists and writers, Melbourne Art Book Fair 2019 presents a four-day program of ideas, discussions and book launches at the National Gallery of Victoria. The 2019 program explores ideas around experimental and discursive publishing, challenging how we think about the publishing field. Guests ask the question: what can books do? How might the form change? How might publishing provoke and influence other creative and social phenomena such as fashion diffusion lines, capsule collections, event spaces, activist movements and community development?

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The submission is only the first stage of the process. If successful we will seek some extra participants – HERE ARE THE MAIN ANSWERS IN OUR SUBMISSION….

 

 

QUESTION: Please tell us what you do, and why:

The Queensland Photobook Consortia is a group of photobook and artists’ book makers and self-publishers from Queensland who, through their publishing projects, provide comment on contemporary issues relating to life and times, not only of their home state Queensland but also Australia and the rest of the world.

The opportunity to present Queensland photobooks within the premier event of the NGV Art Book Fair will enable this substantial group of artists to share their creativity and visual stories. It is our proposal to showcase this group of contemporary emerging and established Queensland practitioners and their latest works.

Their backgrounds are many and varied and include the following:

 

Ana Paula Estrada

ANA PAULA ESTRADA is a Mexican–Australian artist based in Brisbane. For the last seven years her art practice has focused mainly on the documentation of life stories of older Australians by combining photography, oral history, and the artist book. She is currently completing a Master of Visual Arts by research degree at the Queensland College of Art. In 2016, she self-published an artist book called Memorandum in an edition of 200, which has been recognized and exhibited broadly nationally and internationally.

http://www.anapaulaestrada.com

 

Tammy Law

TAMMY LAW documents stories that are reflective of her experiences of being a child of Chinese migrants, and the bubble of Asian/Australianness within which she lives. Her travels through Asia—mostly in Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma—and the differences between Asia and the West propel her to focus on concepts of migration, home and belonging. This book’s development and production has been supported by the celebrated Tokyo based Reminders Photography Stronghold.

http://www.tammylaw.com/

 

David Symons

DAVID SYMONS is a Brisbane based artist. The idea that the photograph sits precariously on the edge of the real and imagined is the great appeal of the medium to David. Born in Scotland, he studied photography in Western Australia in the 1980s. David has exhibited locally and nationally and has been a finalist prizes including The Olive Cotton Award and the IRIS Award. His photographic work is held in The Art Gallery of Western Australia Collection.

http://www.davidsymons.com.au/about-2/

 

Louis Lim

LOUIS LIM is a Brisbane-based photographer and photobook-maker whose work explores the diversity in human conditions, specifically those that are under-represented in mainstream media. His work has been exhibited in several Australian galleries and presented internationality.

Lim has exhibited his photobook with live bookbinding demonstration in Central Embassy Open House as part of Photo Bangkok Festival. Lim has attended the highly regarded Reminders Photography Stronghold Masterclass and is currently developing his personal photobook project in a collaboration with Beth Jackson.

http://louislzm.com/contact/

 

 

Dane Beesley

DANE BEESLEY is an Australian photographer who has created photography books, exhibited widely, and his photographs are held in public and private collections. Beesley has been described as a “leading Australian rock photojournalist” by Melbourne street press Beat Magazine. Marei Bischarn, photo editor at Rolling Stone Australia, described his work as “honesty in photos; nothing planned or fabricated – just pure energy and great times”.

http://danebeesley.com/

 

 

Victoria Reid

VICTORIA REID is a freelance photographer based in South East Queensland. She is interested in documenting the human condition and provides a voice for injustices in society. Reid is about to graduate from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, with a Bachelor of Photography (Honours) with a major in Photojournalism and Social Documentary.

https://www.victoriareidphotography.com.au/

 

Victoria Cooper

VICTORIA COOPER’s work traverses both personal and political territories in the investigation and representation of an Australian “site” and “place”. She creates visual narratives in response to, and informed by, contemporary social and environmental issues intertwined with historical, scientific and mythological insights intrinsic to each site. Her books are held in major artists’ book collections including the National Library of Australia, the State Libraries of Queensland and Victoria and Artspace Mackay.

http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/

 

Doug Spowart

DOUG SPOWART has an extensive involvement in Australian creative industries as an artist, educator, curator, commentator and reviewer. For over 25 years he has made photobooks and artists’ books. Many of these books are held in private, regional and state public galleries, national and international photography and artists’ book collections.

http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/

 

What are some of your recent titles?

 

SOME RECENT TITLES FROM MEMBERS OF THE QLD PHOTOBOOK CONSORTIA

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I was there V.I by Ana Paula Estrada

I WAS THERE V. I & II by Ana Paula Estrada consists of a two-volume artist book that tells the life stories of Kevin and Esta, two participants aged over eighty, with whom she has been collaborating. Merging the fields of documentary practice, oral history and fine arts, and influenced by visual poetry, her books explore the combination of text, image and the blank space of the page.

http://www.anapaulaestrada.com/book-preview/

 

The shadow inside by David Symonds

THE SHADOW INSIDE by David Symons is a noir photobook.  The book stylistically revisits the visual languages of the pulp noir genre and police evidence photograph of the mid 20th Century.  A low-voltage current of psychoanalytical and surrealist themes run through the pages weaving the narrative in and out the real and imagined. This is a game constantly played out in the viewers mind. For the author the mystery is where the door is between the two states.

https://tinyurl.com/ycx9tdws

 

Permission to belong by Tammy Law

PERMISSION TO BELONG by Tammy Law explores themes of migration, home and belonging through the everyday lives of refugee families from Myanmar. Living against the backdrop of decades of repressive rule and civil war, countless families live between a place of home and homelessness, belonging and unbelonging. The negotiation and renegotiation of identities is as complex as the history and future of Myanmar.

http://reminders-project.org/rps/permissiontobelongsaleen/

 

Yelseeb Enad by Dane Beesley

YELSEEB ENAD by Dane Beesley deals with the mythic place that the road occupies in the American west. It is a romanticised Kerouac/Dylanesque view of the road captured in small moments and big cars invested with meaning. There’s an honesty, a quest for truth, perhaps a naiveté in the images reminiscent of cinéma vérité that captures the adolescent wanderlust it seeks to document.

http://danebeesley.com/book/

 

… There is no end by Louis Lim and Beth Jackson

… THERE IS NO END a collaboration between Louis Lim and Beth Jackson deals with grief, loss and upheaval from two separate encounters that intertwine through the process of photobook making. The book was shortlisted in the Singapore International Photography Festival Photo Book Showcase 2018, and the 2018 Libris Award with acquisition by Artspace Mackay.

The final version of the book is in current production for release in early 2019.

http://sipf.sg/photobook/there-is-no-end/

 

liberté by Victoria Reid

LIBERTÉ by Victoria Reid is her first self-published book. This book of photographic work examines the search for sexual freedom in a society in which tightly prescriptive sexual norms prevail. This project focuses on people who create meaning in their worlds outside of what is considered ‘normative’ behaviour. Exchange of power, consent, trust, role-playing and gender identity are explored. The intention of this project is to promote dialogue around existing sexual stereotypes and stigmas.

https://tinyurl.com/y8puyzho

 

 

We’ll keep in touch to let you know how our submission got on….

AND, If you are from Queensland and have a book do get in contact with us….

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The Queensland Photobook Consortia.

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ADVANCE NOTICE: WORLD PHOTOBOOK DAY Brisbane Event

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WPBD Header

 

To mark the 175th anniversary of what is recognised as the first photobook – Anna Atkins’ Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions‘ we invite photobook lovers/collectors/makers to a Brisbane celebration of World Photobook Day 2018.

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Green Anna Logo

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This year the theme of the WPBD is ‘Anna goes green’ and is intended to focus on the concerns of:

       – Global warming

       – Environmental change and destruction

       – Books about natural history topics including plants and nature

       – Books with links to planet earth

The theme originates from Atkins’ activities as a scientific illustrator of flora and other specimens.

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At this year’s event you will have the opportunity to:

  • HEAR: Special guest speaker: Dr Paolo Magagnoli from the UQ School of Communications and Arts
  • VIEW: Photobooks from the Fryer Library collection
  • DISCUSS: “My favourite photobook”
  • BRING: Along your favourite photobook to share.

VENUE: Fryer Library University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus from 11.00 am Saturday the 13th of October.

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David Symons

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This event is being coordinated by David Symons – we thank David for taking on this task while we are away in Tasmania.

We also wish to acknowledge that the World Photobook Day has been set up as a collaboration between the organizers of Photobook Club Madrid and Matt Johnston the founder of the Photobook Club network.

PLEASE NOTE: World Photobook Day is October 14 – This event is scheduled on the 13th due to the availability of the venue.

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FOR MORE DETAILS & TO REGISTER>>>    https://www.facebook.com/events/247464655970747/

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Photobook Club Logo

BUNDANON Residency 2018 – WHY ARE WE HERE?

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WHY ARE WE – documentation of a page from the Island Book

 

WHY ARE WE … Here at Bundanon?

In 2007 we were successful applicants for a Bundanon residency that enabled is to realize a major component of our individual PhD research. However we still needed to resolve many issues raised by this work and to return our finished works to be documented in the site that they were created. So in 2009 we were granted a second residency to complete this part of our studies.

While we were deep in our research other interesting and unanswered questions arose that have haunted us since this time. Although our itinerant life in the last few years has been exciting and constantly changing, we have missed the opportunity to be in a studio and a place devoted to just working on our practice.

Now this latest residency will give us time to work again at the boundaries of our practice and create the new work that has been gestating in our minds over these few years.

See our COOPER+SPOWART website for further info. (Please note the content of this page are Adobe Flash driven presentations)See relevant aspects of our past Bundanon residencies relating to our PhD research here Victoria COOPER ThesisDoug SPOWART – Thesis.

FOLLOW OUR WORK over the next 3 weeks on our FACEBOOK Page

 

A SELECTION OF IMAGES

From artists’ books, photobooks, experimental projects, artwork documentation and our collaboration made during our 2007 & 2009 residencies.

 

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SINGLE MEN’S QUARTERS CAMERA OBSCURA

 

Documentation of the Camera Obscura image in the Single Men’s Quarters

 

PROJECTIONS

‘CLICK’ to enlarge

 

SOME IMAGES FROM DOUG’S WORK

‘CLICK’ to enlarge

 

SOME IMAGES FROM VICKY’S WORK

‘CLICK’ to enlarge

 

 

TO FOLLOW OUR ACTIVITIES OVER THE NEXT 3 WEEKS “LIKE” our FACEBOOK PAGE and in “Follow” – click “SEE FIRST”

 

FB-Follow

 

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Please join with us in this exciting project…

 

 

 

GRACIA+LOUISE: A whisker of light @ Maitland Regional Art Gallery

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A Whisker of Light ………PHOTO:  a hold-up of a cut-out from the exhibition’s activity table

 

A Whisker of Light

An exhibition by Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison @ Maitland Regional Art Gallery March-April 2018

Along with the recent work of artists book shown in the vitrines, there was a few wall installations of Haby’s collages and Jennison’s pencil drawn birds.

The books are based on the layering of image fragments into a visual form of poetry and shown under glass much like museum specimens. These books when time is taken to ‘read’ can stir the imagination beyond the space of words.

The wall works, All breathing, all right, are a breathtaking 446 collages constructed on to antique postcards by Haby from 2006 to 2015. Overwhelming to take in on one visit these transformed postcards are regimented into columns that disrupt a formal ‘reading’ by left to right or of the entire work at once. Instead one discovers them individually, up close and at random bringing a kind of child play or ‘I spy’ to the engagement of this work.

Across the room in a free flowing formation is a flock of birds and one butterfly in flight, All flying, all right, drawn by the sensitive hand of Louise Jennison. Serendipitously, in the gallery space at certain times of the day, a streak of sunlight falls across the wall and seems to guide the birds as a reference to the exhibition title. In this gallery space these works form a kind of habit for the reimagining of the fragile relationship between humans and animals.

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All breathing, all right by Gracia Haby

Gracia Haby
All breathing, all right
2006–2015
Postcard collages

All breathing, all right (detail) by Gracia Haby

Gracia Haby
All breathing, all right (detail of 2 components)
2006–2015
Postcard collages

 

All flying, all right, by Louise Jennison

Louise Jennison
All flying, all right
2011–2014
Pencil on paper

 

3 books by Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
Disrupted and rumpled
Dim wood, spark bright
A warmed pebble in my hand

 

For further information about Gracia & Louise’s exhibitions see:

http://gracialouise.com/a-whisker-of-light

http://gracialouise.com/all-breathing-in-heaven

http://gracialouise.com/unwinking-night

 

Maitland Regional Art Gallery

 

 

 

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THE EXPO 88 PHOTO SHOW – 30 years on

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First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW Poster

First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW Poster

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EXPO’88 – A conceptual photographer’s document

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At this time thirty years ago the people of Brisbane were beginning their EXPO’88 six-month adventure opportunity to encounter the world and its cultures and cuisine. EXPO’88 is often seen as a watershed in the transformation of Brisbane as a sleepy backwater into a vibrant cosmopolitan city of the world and, most certainly part of the 21st Century.

I had a season pass for EXPO’88 and created a personal body of work as a response to my experience of the event. As celebrations are beginning to hit the social media space I thought I would recollect on my EXPO’88 work.

 

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Here is the back-story behind my 1988 project … The First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW

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Ethyl Stevens (USA)

EXPO 88 Crowd Crush ………..PHOTO: Ethyl Stevens aka Doug Spowart

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In the EXPO’88 event I recognised an opportunity for the creation of a new body of work investigating emerging approaches to my work methodology. For varied reasons I had introduced to my practice the creation of alias identities to which my work was attributed. These identities were quite complete in that they had refined working styles, subject matter, presentation forms, a photographic portrait, signatures and artists statements. As a gallery director it was easy to slip the work of these ‘photographers’ into group shows for commentary and critical acclaim. These personae enable me to play a little game on a system that at times, from my perspective at times, was biased, exclusive, nepotistic and overly critical. It also enabled me to explore ideas and concepts relating to my photography and the presentation of photographs.

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When EXPO offered season passes I attended the passport portrait session with pair of fake glasses and a fictitious name, Eugene Xavier Pelham Owens, the initials and the signature spelled ‘EXPO’. The deception had begun. In time this project grew into an extensive body of work from 5 different personae all representing their manufactured personal responses to the EXPO experience. The exhibition was opened on April 1st 1989 (April Fools Day), it was reviewed positively in the Courier Mail and sales of work resulted from people who found the photographs reconnecting them with their experience of the event. The deception went undetected and after the exhibition the body of work passed into obscurity, as do so many exhibitions of photographs, and was slipped into archive storage boxes in my studio.

Whilst, at the time of the fieldwork on this project I called myself a ‘conceptual photographer’ as I felt that my work was driven by the overarching idea of personal experience documents rather than the photodocumentary reportage principles of truth and reality. I was aware of the term ‘conceptual artist’ and recognized that it had all kinds of baggage attached to it based on art theory and movements, however my work as a photographer at this time has simpatico with Sol Lewitt’s 1967 manifesto on conceptual art. He states:

In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art. (Lewitt 1967)

Recently Melissa Miles has discussed the term ‘Conceptual Documentary’ in her 2010 paper The Drive to Archive: Conceptual Documentary Photobook Design. The discusses in reviewing the photobooks of Stephen Gill, Mathieu Pernot and Matthew Sleeth. She asserts that this mode of photography is based on a theory that photographers want to collect and respond to a kind of ‘archive impulse’, making and arranging image sequences of daily life into photobooks. What appeals to me is that, as a Conceptual Documentary photographer I, as Miles defines, ‘seek[s] out and frame[s] their subjects according to a pre-determined idea or scheme. Processes of repetition and categorization are central to Conceptual Documentary’ (Miles 2010:50). For me, what I was engaged in was to make a commentary from a personal viewpoint and to create a contemporary record for public presentation and, ultimately archiving. While Miles’ contemporary Conceptual Documentary practitioner including the likes of Martin Parr freely publish their photobooks in the 1980s trade published productions were beyond the reach of most photographers including myself.

What I find interesting now is that the 1980s was a particularly productive period for me as I created a trilogy of exhibitions: Tourists Facts, Acts, Rituals and Relics, Icons & Revered Australiana and The First & Last Photo Expo Show. These were essentially social documentary projects based on a personal directorial premise. I found that the limited opportunities for presentation of the framed exhibition format of these shows led me to initial experiments with boxed sets of images and ultimately to self-published photobooks, the first of which was completed in 1992.

These days I’m not so concerned about any tag as my work is often so interdiciplinarian it is hard to define. What for me is interesting is that at the time I made work that may now be able to be defined and categorized using contemporary terms and definitions. What is also important now is that the EXPO’88 photographs, some 5,000 of them, exist as an archive not necessarily as a document of the place but rather as a personal, conceptual documentary photographer’s response to the EXPO’88 experience.

Doug Spowart  December 26, 2013

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Lewitt, S. (1967). Paragraphs on Conceptual Art. Artforum 5: 8.
Miles, M. (2010) “The Drive to Archive: Conceptual Documentary Photobook Design.” Photographies 3, 49-68.

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HERE IS A SELECTION OF WORKS FROM MY EXPO’88 PSEUDONYMS

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John (Jack) Dorf (United Kingdom)

John (Jack) Dorf ………(United Kingdom)

John (Jack) Dorf (United Kingdom)

John (Jack) Dorf ………(United Kingdom)

Eugene Owens ......... (USA)

Eugene Owens …….(USA)

Eugene Owens (USA)

Eugene Owens …….(USA)

Malenky Davotchka (Russia)

Malenky Davotchka ……. (Russia)

EXPO 88 © Doug Spowart

Malenky Davotchka …….(Russia)

Y Regami (Japan)

Y Regami ……(Japan)

Y Regami (Japan)

Y Regami ……. (Japan)

Hanna Rhetzik (Czechoslovakia)

Hanna Rhetzik …….(Czechoslovakia)

Hanna Rhetzik (Chezekolvakia)

Hanna Rhetzik ……(Czechoslovakia)

Ethyl Stevens (USA)

Ethyl Stevens …….(USA)

Ethyl Stevens (USA)

Ethyl Stevens …….(USA)

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A PDF PRESENTATION CONTAINING MORE IMAGES IS AVAILABLE HERE: EXPO-SPOWART-v3

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First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW Poster

First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW Poster

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Images and text © Doug Spowart   Design of the Poster: Trish Briscoe

From the Doug Spowart Personal Art Archive 1953-2014

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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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

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Here’s an image of the book:

SKOP PHOTO artists’ book by Doug Spowart

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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..

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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.

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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…

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