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PETER EASTWAY – The New [Photography] Tradition

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A box in the mail

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A box came in the mail the other day and in the box was a book from the photographer Peter Eastway. I have known Peter for over 35 years and have followed his many and varied careers – as a photographer, editor and publisher, darkroom and digital Guru, AIPP advocate, photography commentator, judge, lecturer and mentor.

 

Our paths crossed many times as our interests, activities and creative pursuits were very similar. Over the years Peter published more than a few stories about my work as well as articles I wrote for his magazine Better Photography. Around 1990 Peter was invited to come on my Imagery Gallery Photo Tours to central Australia and Africa to enthuse and inspire the photographers on the tour.

When monochrome photography and the darkroom re-emerged in the 1980s as an exciting ‘new’ trend in the professional photography awards scene Peter became interested in my work. At the time my B&W photographs had on two occasions won the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards ‘Highest Scoring Print in Australia, one of them was a 10”x8” contact print. I had also won categories in the Australian Hasselblad Masters Awards.

Peter came to my darkroom in Toowoomba, witnessed my technique, and published a Better Photography story about my technique. One of the main aspects of my work at the time was my use of Leica 35mm cameras and a printmaking style that employed what I called ‘dramatic theatrical effect’ by utilising very heavy burning-in and local dodging.

From the ICONS series ….PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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Within a short time I found my entries in the AIPP Awards coming up against Peter’s prints and some of his images were even made on photo tours that he had undertaken for Imagery. One year he won the AIPP Professional Photographer of the Year – I was the runner-up. Since then my partner Victoria Cooper has referred to Peter as #1 and me, #2!

AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards with one of Peter’s Professional Photographer of the Year award winning photos of Africa on the cover

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Eastway photographing on tour in Bhutan PHOTO: Roger Skinner

 

When you get to know Peter you quickly understand his capacity for grasping ideas and knowledge, assimilating into his process and then to make images that are uniquely his own.

 

 

 

Back to the book… I turned the opening pages and read Peter’s introduction for ‘generational change’ in photography. He challenges those who have fixed ideas about emulating the great past masters like Adams and Weston and how digital photography has transformed the photographic image and the possibilities available to enhance the way the subject is presented. What follows in the book are very detailed reviews of the ‘making’ of Peter’s images over the years including his transition from analogue to digital. This book is a handbook on Peter’s process and also a manifesto where he claims the establishment of a ‘new tradition’ in photography.

 

Ephraums’ book cover

I turn a few more pages to the first photograph he discusses and dissects. To my surprise Peter acknowledges Eddie Ephraums‘ and my technique as having a significant influence on his B&W work. As I have already said Peter’s way is to grasp, master and go far beyond the initial inspiration. In this way he has come to lead a whole new representation of the lens-seen reality and created for the viewer images of the mystical and sublime. Whether it’s a landscape photograph, an ancient architectural form or a portrait Peter makes images that are seductive to behold, ponder and visually explore.

There is no doubt that he now inspires new a generation of photographers and created disciples and followers for whom this tome will be a ‘book of revelations’, a Bible for those whose wish to understand the eye, the process and the aesthetic of the photographer.

If there is a new tradition and Peter’s work will no doubt continue to influence photographers but his never-ending exploration of the visual world and how the idea of the human seen reality can be transformed through capture and rapture in processing will continue to advance the art of photography.

What interests me is that when I look back at the photographs I was making in the 1980s and 90s I didn’t think at the time about being a follower of a particular ‘tradition’. I just did, as I still do now, what seemed appropriate at the time. Perhaps Peter’s motivation is the same and the only ‘tradition’ that we follow is the constant renewal of the discipline by progressive practitioners…

Thank you Peter for a copy of your book … and for the opportunity to appreciate and consider your work.

 

Doug Spowart

May 20, 2019

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To read more and order Peter’s New Traditions Book –
CLICK THE LINK: Better Photography Online Shop New Traditions Book

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HERE’s SELECTION OF MY MONOCHROME WORK FROM THE LATE 1980s and EARLY 1990s …

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Images and text © Doug Spowart

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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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ROGER SKINNER: A Life in Light – the book

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Roger Skinner and the blog author at the APSCON book launch

Roger Skinner and the blog author at the APSCON book launch

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Roger Skinner is a prolific image maker, artist, photobook maker and poet. Skinner has won many of Australia art photography awards yet he also pursued an interest in the camera club movement. Celebrating 50 years of his photography Roger has compiled a weighty book divided into the subject themes that he chose to explore. Earlier this year he spoke with me about his self-published folly – 500 books, over 300 pages of colour and black and white photographs, every page a picture with consideration for the double page pairings. He also asked me to write a foreword to the book. In September Roger visited the printers in Canberra, picked up the proofs and brought them around to our house-sit in Queanbeyan with his print coordinator and brother Ian. What a moment to witness as the table before us was covered with the uncut pages of the book … A few suggestions and some corrections were made – then the presses rolled.

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Ian Skinner, Vicky, Roger and Doug looking at proofs

Ian Skinner, Vicky, Roger and Doug looking at proofs

 

For many years Roger was a director of the ‘Contemporary Group’ in Australian Photographic Society. Although he resigned his membership of the Society many years ago he was invited back to the APSCON convention at Tweed Heads to launch the book and make a presentation about self-publishing. As the proverbial ‘prodigal son’ Roger gave the 100 or so attendees the back story to his life in photography from the first photograph to those made relatively recently. He alluded to the complexities of self-publishing and the anxiety associated with committing to a personally funded book project in the many thousands of dollars. However his presentation was not intended to dissuade others from considering making their own books, but rather the realities of such an undertaking.

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Roger Skinner presenting his book story @ APSON Conference

Roger Skinner presenting his book story @ APSON Conference

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Towards the end of Roger’s lecture he asked me to come forward and officially launch the book. As I stood before this APSCON audience I was reminded of my first experience as a presenter in 1977 as a young budding photographer. Then, as now, the audience contained some of my mentors and heroes. These included Bill Smit gave me my first experience of a properly setup darkroom and printing techniques. And Graham Burstow, the Toowoomba photographer who inspired me in the late 1960s, and who is still as lively as ever with a new show just opened at the Gold Coast City Art Gallery. Like Roger my APS membership has now lapsed – I first joined in 1967 – perhaps I digress.

I spoke of Roger’s A Life in Light book as being a brave venture. Of how all photographers have libraries and that they learn principally from the books of others. I told them about the great variety of Roger’s work: was he a pictorialist? A photodocumentist? An abstractionist or a poet with a lens…? It gave me great pleasure to launch the book and I encouraged those present to support Roger, and their interest in photography to buy a book that very day … many did.

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Doug Spowart launches Roger Skinner's 'A Life in Light' PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

Doug Spowart launches Roger Skinner’s ‘A Life in Light’ PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

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If you have an interest in seeing a collection of inspirational work created over 50 years then A Life in Light may be an ideal book to have in your library – to purchase:

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Book $40.00 each

Postage and packing in Australia $13.40

Email address is rojpix@ipstarmail.com.au

Direct Deposits to Newcastle Permanent BSB 650 000 Acct No 915531504

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SOME SAMPLE PAGES FROM BOOK

.Roger Skinner's book 'A Life in Light'

Roger Skinner's book 'A Life in Light'

Roger Skinner's first photos

Roger Skinner's book 'A Life in Light'

 

 

HERE IS MY FOREWORD TO THE BOOK ‘A LIFE IN LIGHT’ by ROGER SKINNER

 

The life and work of the regional artist

I have known Roger Skinner for over 30years and I can say that in the art of photography, he is a regional artist who cares little for his farawayness from the city. Spending a lifetime devoted to the camera and its image Skinner has pursued a range of activities in the camera club movement, professional photography associations and the photomedia art scene. Although he has an interest in the photograph as a historical document, Skinner’s practice also includes investigations into the nude, landscape, light painting, the self-image and environmental portraiture. His work has been extensively exhibited in solo and group shows, he has won numerous awards in every field of photographic endeavour, and his work is held in major private and public collections.

Not only is Roger Skinner the consummate artist, he is an organiser, facilitator and committee member. He is a builder and champion of networks that provide opportunities for others. Many will know him for his coordination of the Muswellbrook Art Photography Prize, an award won by major Australian photographers and judged by elite Australian curators, critics and commentators of the art. As a conference presenter, teacher and mentor, he has inspired and enthused many to extend their photography activities. For some time he was Education Officer at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Gallery, and has also served as the Director of the Contemporary Group of the Australian Photographic Society.

But has the remoteness of his practice affected recognition for his own work? Apart from significant urban artists who have taken to living fashionably in the country after they have achieved their fame – how many regional artists have well deserved recognition in this country? Not many … not many. Recognition or not Roger Skinner just gets on with making his art and pursuing his other activities.

The regional space, people and their stories have revealed themselves to Skinner. His eclectic visual style exudes a kind of poetic response to the subject and life. Roger Skinner’s photographs tell us not only something of his interest and his eye for the world, but also how these photographs can touch with our experience of life and tell us something about ourselves.

Proximity has located Skinner in regional New South Wales, and despite a modicum of national infiltration of his work, this isolation may have served him well. However one could ponder the broader recognition and opportunities for his work had he lived in the creative networked proximity of a big city. Perhaps the extensive body of work presented in this book may enable a repositioning of his work within a pantheon of significant Australian photographers.

Dr Doug Spowart

Co-Founder – Centre for Regional Arts Practice

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IMAGES OF THE BOOK FOLLOW…

 

Roger Skinner's book 'A Life in Light' Roger Skinner's book 'A Life in Light' Roger Skinner's book 'A Life in Light' Roger Skinner's book 'A Life in Light' Roger Skinner's book 'A Life in Light'

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All texts and photographs except that by Victoria Cooper  ©Doug Spowart

 

 

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