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NICOLA POOLE’s ‘Lost Girls’ @ Gallery Frenzy, Brisbane

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Image from Nicola Poole's 'Lost Girls' exhibition

Lost Girls by Nicola Poole @ Gallery Frenzy, Brisbane.

Image from Nicola Poole's 'Lost Girls' exhibition

Image from Nicola Poole’s Lost Girls exhibition

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Excerpts from my opening address:

Doug Spowart opens Nicola Poole's 'Lost Girls' exhibition

Doug Spowart opens Nicola Poole’s ‘Lost Girls’ exhibition

This morning on checking my Facebook news feed, there was a message from Darren Jew, of Brisbane’s Foto Frenzy Photography Centre, in which he described the ‘Oh My God’ moment at the age of 12, that inspired his life in photography. That moment was watching a black and white print develop in a tray in a darkroom. I was reminded of my same experience. From other posts there seemed to be quite a few others who were also seduced by the darkroom’s red safelight and its mysterious stinky chemicals.

I posted back to Darren posing the question: ‘how many 12 year olds are out there making digi images today and missing out on that OMG darkroom moment?’ Later, during a conversation with my partner Victoria, we made the interesting observation that in the old darkroom days we ‘MADE’ photographs in every sense of the word. Film was handled in darkness and loaded into tanks–chemicals added, agitation, water washes, hanging up to dry–negatives placed in the enlarger carrier, paper touched and slid into the easel, exposed to light, paper slipped into chemicals, trays rocked… etc. Photography was something that extended well after the shutter was fired. It took time and trouble for an image or two to emerge–made–from the process.

We thought that today with digital photography we just TAKE images–with rapidity and ease. Just click, add a filter effect or two and share. And we may take many, many images. In contemporary image taking the picture has a very transient and superficial value. Quickly taken and distributed they are even consumed faster on social media and quickly lost from view–particularly if you have lots of friends who post with the rapidity of a machine-gun. What is missing today is the time spent with an image realising it as a physical object. Digital imaging is like visual ‘fast food’. We, as consumers, end up fat, lazy and with pixelated indigestion.

What excites me about Nicola Poole’s Lost Girls exhibition is that Nicola has assembled a collection of cohesive thematic image work and formed it into a physical and tangible MADE thing. Over the last week at Foto Frenzy I have witnessed her making this show. Photographs handled, selected and compared, prints emerging line by line from the printer, matted/mounted/framed, placed in the gallery space shuffled–moved, re-ordered and hung. I know that selecting, preparing and presenting work in an exhibition is complex and demanding. The artist embeds their energy and time in it and we the viewers are rewarded in proportion to the care and effort expended in its making.

I congratulate Nicola Poole and applaud her energy, enthusiasm and vision. As a younger girl herself, it is appropriate that she should make photographs the comment on her own experiences and on her generation. As we engage with these photographs questions might emerge: are the subjects looking into memories of the past, or are they facing an uncertain future? These images evoke a sense of, or a time of, waiting–a kind of anxiety or anticipation for something or someone. As viewers we may ponder and be drawn into the narrative.

As to the Lost Girls–What I do know is that in the making of this exhibition, somehow they have all been ‘FOUND’.

And, as Nicola’s first solo exhibition, it is indeed my please to formally announce it open …

Dr Doug Spowart

Nicola Poole and Me

Nicola Poole and Me

Image from Nicola Poole's 'Lost Girls' exhibition

Image from Nicola Poole’s Lost Girls exhibition

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