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Posts Tagged ‘Graham Burstow

EULOGY: GRAHAM BURSTOW – A personal view

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BURSTOW-Self Portrait for Viewer & the Viewed exhibition QCP 2006

Graham Burstow – Self Portrait – Viewer & the Viewed show at QCP 2006


Recently I have been working through my extensive archive, and Graham Burstow‘s name kept surfacing. I found a piece of correspondence from nearly 20 years ago when I was asked by the Australian Honours Secretariat to support a nomination for Graham for an Australia Day Honour. At the time I was the chair of the AIPP Education Sub-committee and had previously provided letters of support for photography related nominations.


Even though 20 years has elapsed since being written, the words still hold true. We should recognise that Graham continued and expanded his connection with the great love of his life – photography.


I am honoured to be able to present this commentary on our friend – Graham Burstow OAM



LETTER DATED: August 3, 2003

Australian Honours Secretariat,
Government House,
Canberra    ACT  2600

Subject: Graham Burstow

Dear Secretariat,

I have known Graham Burstow since the late 1960’s. He has been a significant inspiration due to his dedication to the art of image-making, but also his support of many structures that shape photography in this country. While I make mention of this man’s influence on my life, his works and work have touched and inspired thousands of Australian and international photographers for nearly 50 years.

Graham Burstow’s main sphere of interest is in the camera club movement. He has held numerous positions within the Australian Photographic Society including national President, Chairman of the Print Division, keynote speaker and mentor. Since 1959 he has held positions within the Toowoomba Photographic Society (one of the oldest such groups in Australia). Burstow has been Chairman of no fewer than 6 national and international exhibitions of salon photography.

In his hometown of Toowoomba he has each year coordinated several national art photography awards including the McGregor Prize for Photography at the University of Southern Queensland, and the Heritage Photographic Award at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery since 1977. In my opinion Graham Burstow has a hand in, and a hand to offer, for anything photographic from presenting lectures or judging awards for students at the Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE where I work, or assisting community groups including senior citizens groups and Lifeline.

Burstow’s work appears regularly in magazines and publications including his self-published book “Touch Me”.  In 1984 I curated a substantial survey of his work at Imagery Gallery in Brisbane. His work has been shown in salon exhibitions world-wide and in major institutions like the Queensland Art Gallery.

Graham Burstow has received significant honours for his photographic work and his service to photography including the following: Associateship and EFIAP(service) of the International Federation of Photographic Art, Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society, Associateship of the Photographic Society of America and a Fellow and Honorary Fellow of the Australian Photographic Society.

In a review of his book “Touch Me” I commented that:

Burstow’s work is about sharing his vision with the world.  It represents a lifetime of photographic exploration of the art.  Burstow’s work is not just about camera club pictorialism but also aspects of the human condition and the humour of everyday situations.  This book is not intended as a catalogue for purchase, it is rather a communique, the photographer reaching out with the world in his photographs inviting the viewer to touch the experience portrayed.

Diversity of style and subject is apparent in Burstow’s journey in photography.  It seems as if he had walked alongside Max Dupain at the beach, been with Wolfgang Sievers at the building site, shared an impromptu moment with Henri Cartier-Bresson, a portrait session with Arnold Newman, some personal introspective moments with Nan Goldin, and an adventure with Frank Hurley.

Australian photography would be greatly diminished if it were not for the contribution of this generous and modest man – I have great pleasure in supporting his nomination for the Order of Australia.

Yours faithfully,

Doug Spowart  M.Photog, FAIPP, Hon.FAIPP   Chair of the AIPP Education Sub-committee




Click on the image to enlarge the view and see the full caption



Australian Cultural Library presentation media Cobb & Co Toowoomba 2021 PHOTO Doug Spowart

ACL presentation media at Cobb & Co Museum Toowoomba 2021 PHOTO Doug Spowart


For an insight into how he felt about his life in photography, an event in 2021 at the Cobb & Co Museum recorded by the Chronicle Newspaper (paywall) might provide an answer. Graham was being awarded a Life Membership of the Australian Cultural Library (ACL) by the director Steve Towson. In a video interview he was to comment that he had been photographing for 73 years. He also added:

When you look at the things you can do to keep your mind occupied and increase the length of your life, photography is nearly always near the top of the list.

It keeps your mind busy and even when you are not photographing you are probably thinking about something you want to photograph.

I think it’s worked in my case … I enjoy it, met a lot of wonderful people, it’s been great to get to go to a lot of interesting places… *



In my collection I have a Graham Burstow photograph entitled No 2 The Day Ahead. For me, at this time it is a poignant image …


NO 2 THE DAY AHEAD by Burstow







*Tribute for Toowoomba photographer icon Graham Burstow Stephen Burstow John Elliott | The Chronicle  (Paywall story)

Thanks to Bev Lacey for the ACL quote and photograph and Zigi for the gift of the Noosa 10×8 photograph







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APS Travelling Print Exhibition 2012 @ Atelier Gallery Toowoomba

In 2012 the Australian Photographic Society celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its formation. One of the three remaining foundation members from 1962 is Toowoomba’s own Graham Burstow. Graham and other local photographic luminaries Barry Whisson, Alwyn Kucks and Gerry Saide attended an exhibition of 100 prints from the 2012 APS Travelling Exhibition at Atelier Gallery on October 10, 2012.

The APS has come a long way in its 50 years and while I wasn’t around in the beginning I’ve been there since first joining the organisation in 1967. There’s something comfortable about the style of pictorialism that amateur photographers have refined and mastered that is evident in this show. And while some curators and academics may argue that pictorialism is a style of photography that died out a long time ago it’s alive a well an continuing to contribute amazing images of the world we inhabit — a few are selected here.

What for me is exciting is how everyone now can make their own high quality prints.15 years ago in the pre-digital era the projected colour slide was king as everyone could put a roll of Kodachrome in the 35mm camera and make photographs. Those who worked in the specialist technology trap of the darkroom were few and far between. What’s more the predominant genre was black and white as colour papers and processes were not really designed for home processing. Digital photography, computers and inkjet printing has given everyone the equivalent of a darkroom!

Congratulations to APS on its celebration of 50 years and to the members whose work was included in this exhibition.

FOR MORE DETAILS: http://www.a-p-s.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=152&Itemid=214

Vicky and Alwyn Kucks discussing an image

Cynthia Henley-Smith’s “A country road, Victoria

Graeme Guy (Sing.) “Seconds to live”

Tina Deal (Qld) “Aussie bush”

Graham Burstow and Doug @ Atelier Gallery, Toowoomba

75 Years: Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery

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Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery Panorama

Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, the oldest regional art gallery in Queensland, this month celebrated its 75th year of operation. When we consider that Queensland only recently celebrated its sesquicentennial therefore the gallery is half the age of Queensland itself! Other interesting dates; the Toowoomba region was settled in the 1840s and was proclaimed a city in 1904 The Toowoomba Show Society recently achieved a milestone of 142 years of shows in agriculture and industry and the Empire theatre celebrated its 100th birthday last year. It seems that the Toowoomba region was well and truly fired up as a community and perhaps overdue for an art gallery that was finally established in 1937.

The records show that various Governors of Queensland were associated with TRAG over the years and this association continues to this day with the current Governor Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley opening the 75th exhibition on July 2, 2012. In an impressively researched speech Governor Wensley recounted newspaper reports of the day relating to the gallery’s foundation. The 75th opening was attended by around 100 members of the local community including Mayor Paul Antonio, various councillors and members of the trustees or families of significant donors to the gallery.

Gallery Curator Di Baker with Governor Wensley discussing artworks

The exhibition features 75 individual artworks from the gallery’s collection—one for each of the 75 years. Standing in the middle of the main exhibition area one sees a diverse range of visual material. Paintings of bygone and contemporary eras by some very prominent artists, there are ceramics, fine jewellery (from the gallery’s principle collection media—contemporary wearables), and finally photographs and prints complete the veritable visual cornucopia on show. When I came to testing my recollection of the artwork’s titles and artists I was stumped, as the artwork didactics bore none of that information. This presented some confusion until I became aware the curatorial strategy for the show. The 75 works were selected on the basis of the year and the work’s conceptual connection with significant social, political or historical aspects of that year. The key to the sometimes quirky and idiosyncratic curatorial selection is the exhibition catalogue in which the rationale for the selection is linked with the title, media and the artist’s name.

While at first this seems a little strange my reflection on the concept confirms, for me at least, that the strategy is conceptually stimulating. The usual gallery exhibition is about artists and their art—this show IS about the gallery, its PLACE in the community and TIME, or rather the passage of time—75 years in fact. In this exhibition the gallery then assumes the position of ‘artist’ and were the ‘artwork’ is the curatorial team’s strategy.

Doyen of Toowoomba’s photo scene Graham Burstow with a Max Dupain photograph in the exhibition

Bravo to the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery and the team for bringing to us an exhibition featuring the gems of art from its collection that can tell these multiple stories. One, which is about the assiduous collection by the gallery of art stimulated by and/or created by the regional community. And secondly, this show provides recognition of significant art from outside Toowoomba that has been generously donated by benefactors over the years. Through the gallery display of these artworks the local community is able to connect with these wonderful touchstones of artists’ creative practice.

A visit to TRAG to see this show will require much more engagement than usual walk-through, so do plan for extended visits while the 75th year celebration show is on.

SEE more info Toowoomba Regional Council website

Doug Spowart  8 July 2012

Doug next to his photograph of Ruthven Street selected for the exhibition

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