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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

A GIFT OF A CAMERA: David Tickell’s cameras

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Advertising stuff from the 1960s for David's cameras

Advertising stuff from the 1960s for David’s cameras

 

In March 2013 I was contacted by David Tickell who wanted to meet with me to talk about a proposition he had in mind. I had known David for many years – he had been a writer and critic for the local press and had written the text for a book by my photographer friend John Elliott. In the early 2000s David had enrolled in photography studies at the college I taught at in Toowoomba. He was always an enthusiastic contributor to the classroom as he sought to learn and master digital photography. It became evident to me at the time that David had a considerable interest and capability in photography from his past career activities.

 

When David came by to visit he brought an aluminium case covered with the patina of travel and use. Inside the case were the things that David had wanted to talk with me about. We sat in our carport rainforest and talked about what we’ve both been up to and changes in our lives. David spoke about downsizing his life’s goods and chattels and introduced the aluminium case’s treasures to me… a Rollei twin lens reflex with a range of filters and accessories, an Exakta 35mm SLR – all neatly packed with manuals and other ephemera. It was all in immaculate condition. He told me that he had purchased it in the Middle East at a time in his journalism career that needed quality photographs.

 

With David Tickell on the day of his gift to me in 2013

With David Tickell on the day of his gift to me in 2013

His dilemma now was that with digital photography he had no need for the equipment and he wanted to pass it on to someone who would appreciate it and perhaps even use it – he proposed that I was that person. I appreciated his gesture and felt honoured by his offer. I mentioned that Vicky and I had a Rollei in our possession and that we would look after the gear and pass it on to an individual, perhaps a student, who we considered would value this equipment and use it to extend their analogue photography work. We made photographs of our meeting with the cameras and David left feeling excited that his gift was well received and would be looked after.

For some time I’ve been looking out for a suitable person to receive David’s gear. Quite a few years ago I’d come across a Brisbane band webpage called ‘Something from the scene’, and a little while later I had a student who was interested in contemporary band photography who had found the same site as an inspiration. In June 2015 we met Thomas Oliver at the Siganto Artists Book Forum in Brisbane. He was the guy from ‘Something from the scene’. We both connected with Thomas who we found out was a Queensland College of Art Bachelor of Photography student. Our paths have crossed many times since including his involvement in exhibitions and projects I’ve curated include a Skype artist’s talk that he participated in at Maud Gallery in March for the In situ documentary show.

Recently Thomas has completed his Bachelor of Photography and was the winner of the John Mckay Award for the student going into honours, and a Saint Margaret School’s internship award. He is continuing his studies with an Honours year at QCA. I was particularly interested in Thomas’ engagement with analogue photography. Extensive project work while on study tour to Europe, the UK and Canada was shown at Maud in the ‘In situ’ show and his graduating BP work featured an involvement in the variants and deviations possible from the printing of the singular black and white film negative.

 

PHOTO: Thomas Oliver from his 'Disconnection' series

PHOTO: Thomas Oliver from his ‘Disconnection’ series

PHOTO: Thomas Oliver from his 'Disconnection' series

PHOTO: Thomas Oliver from his ‘Disconnection’ series

Thomas Oliver giving his floortalk by Skype

Thomas Oliver giving his ‘In Situ’ floortalk by Skype from Canada

Thomas talking about his work at the Maud Gallery 'Dark Love' event in November 2016

Thomas talking about his work at the Maud Gallery ‘Dark Love’ event in November 2016

 

For his enthusiasm for photography and his dedication to analogue photography I chose to pass on David’s gear to Thomas. We met at Maud Gallery at the end of November and the exchange made. He was excited to be the recipient of David’s equipment legacy and excitedly talked about how the gear could be used in his future photographic research work.

 

Thomas Oliver and me

Thomas Oliver and me

 

David’s equipment has found a new life with Thomas and as long as he has a need and a interest it will reside with him – until he wishes to pass it on to a new custodian…

Thomas Oliver with David's gear

Thomas Oliver with David’s gear

 

Words about David Tickell from John Elliot’s photographic documentary book The Last Show published in 1986. The book was about the last Toowoomba Agricultural Show held on the inner-city site bordering Bridge, Campbell and Lindsay Streets. Elliott’s photographs were complimented by a text telling the story of the show written by David.

From John Elliott's book 'The Last Show' 1986

From John Elliott’s book The Last Show 1986

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Written by Cooper+Spowart

December 17, 2016 at 1:47 pm

NOCTURNE ARMIDALE: a community photo project

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

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

 

NOCTURNE ARMIDALE: Capturing Armidale in a new light          

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

 

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

 

Doug presenting his workshop on file optimisation

Doug presenting his workshop on file optimisation

A group shot of some of the Nocturne Armidale participants

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

 

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

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

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

 

Hanging the Nocturne Armidale exhibition

Hanging the Nocturne Armidale exhibition

Part of the Nocturne Armidale exhibition at the Armidale Art Gallery

Part of the Nocturne Armidale exhibition at the Armidale Art Gallery

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

 

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

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

Vicky presenting a floortalk about the Nocturne show

Vicky presenting a floortalk about the Nocturne show

 

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

Here is a selection of the Nocturne Armidale project images…

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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Regtta Hotel, Brisbane - rephotography DUO

Regatta Hotel, Brisbane – Rephotography DUO

ABOUT NOCTURNE PHOTOGRAPHY

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

 

Nocturne Armidale Logo

Nocturne Armidale Logo

MORE ABOUT COOPER and SPOWART NOCTURNE PROJECTS

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Cooper+Spowart shooting Nocturne

Cooper+Spowart shooting Nocturne

 

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

 

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

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OUR LATEST BOOK IS IN THE CCP SALON

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CCP Header

CCP Header

 

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

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

 

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

 

You are here...

You are here…

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

‘You are here…” Cover and codex opening

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

'You are here..." detail

‘You are here…” detail

"You are here..." back detail

“You are here…” back detail

'You are here..." detail

‘You are here…” detail

 

 

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

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MAUD GALLERY CAMERA OBSCURA – for one day only

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The Maud Gallery window to become a Camera Obscura

The Maud Gallery window to become a Camera Obscura

 

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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

The Maud camera obscura team – Louis Lim, Doug+Vicky PHOTO: Louis Lim

The Maud camera obscura team – Louis Lim, Doug+Vicky PHOTO: Louis Lim

The Maud camera obscura team – Louis Lim, Doug+Vicky with Maud Director Irena Prikryl. PHOTO: Louis Lim

The Maud camera obscura team – Louis Lim, Doug+Vicky with Maud Director Irena Prikryl. PHOTO: Louis Lim

 

Outside looking in ––– The Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

Outside looking in ––– The Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

Camera obscura viewers sitting on the couch - note two holes... PHOTO: Louis Lim

Camera obscura viewers sitting on the couch – note two holes… PHOTO: Louis Lim

Inside the Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

Inside the Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

Inside the Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

Inside the Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

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The Maud Gallery toilet was also converted into a camera obscura

The camera obscura in the Maud toilet PHOTO: Louis Lim

The camera obscura in the Maud toilet PHOTO: Louis Lim

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Vicky standing before the two pinhole projection – someone came in and let the light in…

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Photographer Neil while making a photograph becomes a camera obscura imaging surface…

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Gallery Director Irena takes a tea break…

 

 

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.

 

Bedroom Camera Obscura 2000 (Y2K)

Bedroom Camera Obscura 2000 (Y2K)

 

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Avochie Bathroom Camera Obscura

Avochie Bathroom Camera Obscura

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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.

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City of Dreams – Ibis Hotel sunrise over Sydney

City of Dreams – Ibis Hotel sunrise over Sydney

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The Travelodge camera obscura 2008

The Travelodge camera obscura 2008

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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.

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Setting up the room

Blacking out the room

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We were watching TV ...

We were watching TV …

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OUR MOST RECENT CAMERA OBSCURA: ORPHEUS ISLAND BEACH TENT

(A collaborative event with John de Rooy, Spyder Displays and the Orpheus Is Photo Workshop)

Our Spyder Camera Obscura

Our Spyder Camera Obscura

A DUO View of the scene and the Camera Obscura image

A DUO View of the scene and the Camera Obscura image

TO VIEW OTHER CAMERA OBSCURA WORK BY COOPER AND SPOWART SEE THE LINKS

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Our Website:

http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/4_PROJECTS/RoomCameraObscura-Project.html

Our car converted into a camera obscura and driven across Australia:

http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/4_PROJECTS/CarCamera-Project.html

Two New Zealand Camera Obscuras in the the Queenstown Rydges Hotel:

https://wotwedid.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/two-new-zealand-camera-obscuras/

A public Camera Obscura performance and live video:

https://wotwedid.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/camera-obscura-pinhole-event-foto-frenzy-a-report/

YouTube videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyA5QP-mX-E

A camera obscura at the Queenstown Centre for Creative Photography:

https://wotwedid.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/camera-obscura-qccp/

A World Pinhole Day Camera Obscura at Mt Barney:

https://wotwedid.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/world-pinhole-photography-day-our-contribution/

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Closing off the hole

Closing off the hole in the Travelodge Hotel camera obscura

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© 2013 Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart for 16 Years of Camera Obscuras Project

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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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DARK LOVE: Stories of the darkroom @ Maud Gallery

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It seems that in the digital age many photographers still pine for the days past when the darkroom was familiar territory. While older photographers may have fond memories, today they share their darkroom love with new-comers, mainly younger and digitally native photographers. To honour the past and to celebrate the future of the darkroom we worked with the Director of Maud Creative Gallery Irena Prikryl recently to host a series of events and workshops to recognise analogue photography in contemporary photographic practice.

 

On November 8 a group of photographers responded to the call to attend an event at the gallery called DARK LOVE: Stories of the Darkroom. They were asked to come along with something special about the darkroom and tell a story associated with it. On arrival at the gallery their photographs were prepared and then hung on the wall.  The presentations were timed at around 5 minutes and were quite fascinating.

 

Part of the Dark Love exhibition at Maud Gallery

Part of the Dark Love exhibition at Maud Gallery

What follows is a photo of the attendee, their print and a brief comment about their stories …

 

Alex Buckingham

Alex Buckingham

Alex spoke about working with Liquid Light emulsions

 

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Victoria Cooper

Victoria Cooper discussed the making of this pinhole biscuit tin photo and the challenges of printing the 6x18cm negative

 

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Thomas Oliver

Thomas spoke about his current academic research in the multiple printing of a single negative.

 

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Tammy Forward

Tammy discussed the making of a studio portrait.

 

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Sandy Barrie

Sandy spoke of the dangers of shooting large format in busy Sydney traffic.

 

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Robyn Hills

Robyn told the story of the making of this award winning print – from its origins from a point-n-shoot camera to darkroom high contrast printing ‘Tipp-ex” and a little bit of marker pen…  A great animated performance….

 

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Rob Crapnell

Rob discussed his interest in the darkroom and work with a 6×7 Pentax documenting how old heritage buildings in Brisbane are being cramped by the skyscraper…

 

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Peter Pescell

Peter discussed his use of an ‘ancient’ bellows camera and reloaded 120 aerial film on spools to make this image… the old and the outdated still have currency in analogue…

 

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Michael Stephenson

Michael discussed his modern printing of a series of lantern slides that represented a panorama of Brisbane made in the 1870s(?) by the photographer a Mr Wilson(?).

 

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Louis Lim

Louis spoke of a camera obscura that he made in a children’s hospital as part of an artist in residence. He described the view of Vulture Street in Brisbane on the ceiling of the room and how children visiting the space were enthralled by the images on the ceiling and walls…

 

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Jeff Ryan

Jeff discussed the taking of this photograph and its connection personal connection with he and his brother’s lives. The photo was made relatively recently at a place where Jeff and his brother played as kids 40 years earlier.

 

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Irena Prikryl

Irena’s story related to buying her first serious camera – a Hasselblad and then taking some photos in Grand Central Station in New York. The camera was balanced on a railing and the shutter speed was long…  The photo was recently printed in a Fine Art Print workshop at Maud with Doug+Vicky.

 

 

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Chris Bowes

Chris Bowes was unable to attend but had come by earlier to install his personal investigation of self and sweat by placing un-exposed B&W photopaper against his body. The prints are then process yield a ‘Chemigram’.  Chris will present a floortalk at the gallery. Check the Dark Love page for details…

 

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David Symons

David discussed that the origins of his 1980s photographic series was a response to the work and photobooks of David Hamilton. Hamilton was well known for his ‘soft-porn’ photos of young girls. Symons spoke about how he appropriated Hamilton’s photos by double printing copy negatives through a cracked mud image. Texts from Hamilton’s book were adapted by Symons using a redactive process to reveal an alternative story….

 

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Doug Spowart

I commented about how a recent re-connection with pinhole photography during the Pinhole workshop last weekend had helped to resolve a need for a new project that Vicky and I will be working on next year. I passed around an 8″x10″ film pinhole negative that had revived my interest and love of the darkroom.  PHOTO: Victoria Cooper.

 

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Edwin Wecker

Edwin discussed his experiences with film photography whilst on tour to India with his friend Russell Shakespeare.

 

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Gail Hoger-Neuman

Gail showed some photographs from her early 1990s exhibition ‘Hollywood Stills’ that was shown at Imagery Gallery.

 

Sandy Barrie demonstrates ancient portable daylight enlargers – the oldest was made before 1859.

Sandy Barrie demonstrates ancient portable daylight enlargers – the oldest was made before 1859.

 

Conversations continued after the presentations

Conversations continued after the presentations

The DARK LOVE works were enjoyed and discussed

The DARK LOVE works were enjoyed and discussed

 

CHRIS BOWES FLOORTALK  – 26 November – details to be confirmed

A FINE ART PRINTING WORKSHOP WILL TAKE PLACE ON – Postponed to 2017

A CYANOTYPE WORKSHOP – Details HERE

AND THE FRONT GALLERY WILL BE CONVERTED INTO A CAMERA OBSCURA on November 26 (to be confirmed)

 

 

 

Festival of the Darkroom logo

Festival of the Darkroom logo

 

All portrait photographs and gallery documentations unless credited otherwise ©2016 Doug Spowart

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STUDIO WEST END: REPRISE

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Adele Outtridge

Adele Outtridge photographed in the new Studio by Doug Spowart

Wim de vos

Wim de Vos photographed in the new Studio by Doug Spowart

 

Adele Outteridge and Wim de Vos are like ‘family’ for many artists and creatives in Queensland, and I’m sure around Australia and beyond. Their Studio West End has provided a space for artists to access printing technologies, be supported by mentoring and teaching provided by Adele and Wim, and also connect through the social meeting place that the studio was.

 

Over the years both Vicky and I have connected with them in many different ways; as co-teachers in an art college, as collaborators on art projects, attending events that each other had organised, learning and sharing skills and, at times, just sitting around – as other do – talking about art and artists…

 

Helen Cole opens the Studio West End artists book show Photo: Doug Spowart

Helen Cole opens the Studio West End artists book show Photo: Doug Spowart

 

Adele and Wim have for many years operated their business Studio West End in the suburb of West End in Brisbane in an old soft drink and later and ice-cream factory. They made these places little palaces of art, inspiration and creativity. The workshop was often converted into an exhibition space and example of which would be the project launch of EX LIBRIS: WHO OWNS THIS BOOK

However the creeping menace of gentrification and the scourge of massive high rise development meant that earlier this year they had to pack up and leave their premises in the ABSOE building.

Vicky and I attended the last day party on the 23rd of April and I made some photographs of the state of the studio and its conversion into neat stacks of crates on pallets. What follows is a small selection of the ABSOE Studio West End wake…

 

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Invitation to the Farewell Party

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The farewell Absoe Building wake…

 

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Moving out of West End

 

On October 30 Adele and Wim re-opened STUDIO WEST END at a new location –

241F Station Rd, Yeerongpilly 4105. Come to Gate 4, YCP (Yeerongpilly Corporate Park)

A large opening party was held on Friday evening with the new consecration of the new studio being performed by artist and raconteur Janet de Boer OAM. Acquaintances and friends were invited to visit the studio over the weekend and we went along for lunch the next day. We wish them all the best for the Studio’s continued operation.

What follows is a documentation of the new space and its migration into a new space for art making, teaching and mentoring artists…

 

The NEW Studio West End

The NEW Studio West End

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In the new Studio West End

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ALL photographs and text ©2016 Doug Spowart

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Written by Cooper+Spowart

November 5, 2016 at 5:23 pm

ANA PAULA ESTRADA’s new book “MEMORANDUM”

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Brisbane City skyline

Brisbane City skyline

 

Brisbane is not a place not known for its photobook makers… there’s not much happening.  Occasionally a gem from Dane Beesley, a few college student publications made for assessment and, every now and again, artists’ books/photobooks from yours truly and Victoria Cooper. So it is an exciting time when a new book is made as a total production from concept to printing and binding in Brisbane. That book is by photographer and photobook self-publisher Ana Paula Estrada and is entitled Memorandum. The book was completed as a project associated with Estrada’s Siganto Foundation Creative Fellowship in the Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland.

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Memorandum is a conceptual bookwork and is concerned with concepts of aging and memory, remembrance and the recounting of stories. In this book Estrada presents evocative associations where the photograph infers a memory or moment re-called.

At a first glance Memorandum could seem to be just a book of straight portraits featuring old people. The are multiple images on successive pages occasionally interspersed with a range of other photos and ephemera. Each of the people pictured in this book have been interviewed by Estrada and shared with her stories of their lives. Fragments of their memories, exhumed from the depths of memory, or in some cases, from lost recesses of the mind caused by age-related memory impairment or varied stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Estrada’s portrait sequences present the subjects with subtle expression changes. Turning the pages of the book are like a conversation with the person – animated and suggesting a dialogue is taking place.

Page opening – Memorandum

Page openings – Memorandum

 

Facing pages are sometimes blank to create a punctuation or pause in the conversation. Sometimes images and other ephemera are on the verso pages. These act as windows to the conversation – they need no caption, they are physical evidence of existence, substantiating the memory. They act as memory maps placed before the reader as additional information. Many of these images have been sourced from the person in conversation. Other photographs have been sourced by Estrada from the archives of the State Library of Queensland to illustrate the memory relayed to her in conversation with the subject.

Memorandum has achieved the notice of the world-wide photobook community:

Harvey Benge comments on the book https://harveybenge.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/ana-paula-estrada-memorandum-new.html

The Royal Photographic Society’s curated photobook exhibition https://issuu.com/bjsdesign/docs/photobook_exhibition_2016_catalogue

Shortlisting for the Artspace Mackay Libris Artists’ Book Awards 2016-librisawards_illustratedlistofworks

Shortlisting for the Encontros da Imagem Festival (Braga, Portugal)

A review by Gabriela Cendoyo (in Spanish) can be seen HERE

The State Library of Queensland BLOG about the development of the book can be read HERE

The Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland and the National Library of Australia have both bought copies.

 

I was honored to have Ana Paula approach me to write an essay to accompany the book. My text is printed as a broadsheet page folded and inserted into a pocket in the book’s cover. My essay is as follows….

 

PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY

Sitting here, I’m trying to recall the earliest memories of my life as a child. In this process of reflection I attempt to delve back into my memory searching for images, thoughts, experiences and feelings. What I find are personal, unique and fragmented memories that seem to have the appearance of photographs.

As I remember more of my childhood, I wonder if there is another way of visualising memories? But what emerges again in my mind are stilled photographic moments in particular, one of a family group. These photo memories have no colours, just black and white and slightly sepia. Wide white borders surround each memory and the corners are slightly bumped showing the patina of being handled. It even seems plausible to me I could even turn the memory over, and there would be a caption there in someone’s handwriting.

How could I, at 3 years of age, have known the significance and the outcome of my father’s posed group – my brother, mother and me? Other aspects of the photograph, like how youthful my mother appears, or how my father was not yet bald, give me something to base what I think should be my memories of that time. Could it be that I remember the photograph and have forgotten the moment of its making?

Writer and critic John Berger claims that, ‘All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget.’[i] Does this mean that because we have photographs, we allow ourselves to forget? What I do know is when we want to remember – we look at photographs. And when it comes to remembering there are social rituals that help us do this. Every family, for example, at some time or another, gathers together and the musty pages of photo albums are turned, old yellowed Kodak print packets thumbed through and the slides are held up to the light with everyone squinting to see some glimmer of recognition in the tiny frame. We have seen the archived baby photos, the wedding couple, holidays and kids playing at the beach, the new house and the other treasures that vernacular photography presents as a personal record. Through this ritual we encounter the rich archive of our family and ancestor’s lives. These now become ‘conditioned memories’, whether real or fiction. When we next see these photos we will think we remember the moment of their making and not necessarily our moment of first encountering them.

This conceptual bookwork by Ana Paula Estrada is concerned with the human condition of memory. Perhaps more specifically this work deals with concepts of ageing and memory, remembrance and the recounting of stories. The work also comments on the interpretation of stories and the retelling of what could be referred to as meta-stories in the form of a book.

As the pages of Memorandum are turned – people will be met. There will be conversations through the sharing of photographs, documents and news-clippings of these people’s lives. Through the process of making this book, memories have been revisited, refreshed and retold anew. These stories are offered for reader’s contemplation, perhaps even for future remembering. Memoranda, such as these, may be about other people’s stories – but in many ways they may stir our memories and become part of our stories as well.

Doug Spowart

[i] Berger, John. Keeping a Rendezvous [in English]. Granta in association with Penguin, 1992.

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Memorandum‘s book specifications and price:
  • Black soft cover, Section Sewn (Exposed Spine), 21 cm x 15 cm Stock: Ecostar Uncoated It contains a small 8pp booklet, fold out pages and a tipped in 112gsm translucent page
  • 170 pages and 86 photographs
  • Selling price $80

Other details about the book:

Photographs & Text:

Ⓒ2016 Ana Paula Estrada

Subject´s personal photographs.

John Oxley Collection, State Library of Queensland.

Design & concept: Ana Paula Estrada

Essay: Dr. Doug Spowart

Artwork: Linda Carling

Colour management: Martin Barry

Printing: Allclear in Brisbane, Australia

Typefaces: Chronicle Display and Aparajita

Paper stock: 120gsm &140gsm Ecostar

First edition, 2016

Print run: 200

More information about the book and how to purchase a copy can be found on Ana Paula’s website.

http://anapaulaphotography.com.au/

 

 

Ana Paula Estrada’s Memorandum makes a significant contribution to the contemporary photobook genre in her ability to resolve the conceptualisation, capture – in photographs and recorded interview, the design and coordination of a complex concept into the simple form of of a book. And in doing so give us an opportunity to consider contemporary issues of our time through the photobook.

 

Doug Spowart

October 31, 2016

 

 

PHOTOS OF THE BOOK LAUNCH

AVID READER IN WEST END BRISBANE

Louis Lim bought a book

Louis Lim bought a book

Annette Green and Ana Paula

Annette Green and Ana Paula

Looking at the book

Looking at the book

Doug Spowart reading his essay from the book

Doug Spowart reading his essay from the book

Ana Paula and husband Guille

Ana Paula and husband Guille

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