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IAN POOLE: AIPP On the Lounge

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Ian Poole addressing the audience @ Photo Frenzy

Ian Poole is well placed to have an opinion about fine art photography and collecting photographs. He has been a major player in professional photography in Brisbane for nearly 40 years and is a respected AIPP judge with yearly invitations to also judge the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography awards. Despite his professional photography connection he has been a part of a sector of the Queensland photographic art scene that extends from the early 1980s with Imagery Gallery, later with the Photographer’s Gallery and more recently with the Queensland Centre for Photography. He has completed a Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts from the Queensland College of Art and has been awarded an Australia Council residency in Tokyo. Adding to this he has curated photographic exhibitions in Japan (of Queensland photographers) and exhibitions in Australia (of local and Japanese photographers).

So when Poole offers commentary on aspects of the photographic art world of Brisbane and Queensland it should be something of an opportunity to connect with his extensive knowledge of the genre. Recently as part of the AIPP ‘On the Lounge’ lecture series Ian Poole presented to an assembled audience of around 40 a dissertation entitled, ‘Have you ever wanted to collect photographic art, or be collected as a photographic artist?’

Ian – getting his message across with passion

Ian Poole began his presentation by reviewing recent art auction records for photographic artworks including those by Adams, Sexton and Dupain. Thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions will change hands for well-known and rare works. The recent phenomena of Nick Brandt’s African work,which had been shown only weeks earlier in Brisbane, attracted some discussion. Perhaps some in the audience felt a little inspired by the possibility that, if they could enter the fine art field, that there was recognition and the possibility for a significant income to be made.

Poole introduced his collection of images that were hung on the walls and laid out on tables before the audience and discussed their histories and stories. For him the concept of ‘provenance’ elevated the importance of each work. A small Dupain image of the interior of the National Gallery in Canberra made during its construction was linked to his encounter with the work in a Brisbane gallery where it was purchased for a few hundred dollars. His most exuberant discussion related to a Joachim Froese diptych acquired when he swapped it with Joachim for a 4×5 enlarger. An expanded provenance trail led to it being loaned back to Joachim so that it could be displayed a QUT exhibition of his work.

A long-term friendship with north Queensland photographer Glen O’Malley presented some interesting provenance stories. O’Malley is not fully recognised for the significance of his practice in Queensland – he could probably claim to have had the first ‘photographic art’ exhibition in this state in the mid 1970s. Poole presented to the audience an image from O’Malley made as part of the Queensland Art Gallery’s 1988 Journeys North commission. The 20×24” black and white photograph showed a scene in Poole’s home where the O’Malleys were having dinner. The image was part of the accepted images for the Journeys North show and was subsequently published. Somehow Poole’s own life had become art photography itself.

Another photography collaborator presented by Poole was John Elliott. Well known for his documentation of country and western music and its heroes and doyens including Slim Dusty, Chad Morgan and Jimmy Little, Elliott is an enigmatic character of the photography scene. Ian spoke of John’s most recent show Gifted Country at the Caboolture Regional Art Gallery and his photobook publishing ventures. A recent journey to Townsville that Poole had shared with another of Queensland’s enigmatic photographers, Maris Rusis, resulted in a body of work by Rusis that dealt with the décor of budget north Queensland motel rooms. These small and fine gelatin silver fibre B&W prints presented to the audience the fact that traditional values remain key to some workers who continue to practice analogue photography in a digital world.

Question time brought up some difficult truths – Why does the Queensland Art Gallery/GOMA not seem to be collecting photography generated within this state? Did they ever collect? Some discussion related to the archival needs for conservation framing and presentation.

As a conclusion to the presentation Poole spoke of the way in which he and his photography acquaintances swapped and shared their works, and how much of his collection was built around the generosity of fellow photographers and their desire to share. He held a bundle of his own gelatin silver images up before the audience and made an offer that ‘you can have one of my prints this evening – and send a print to me as a swap. Start your collection this evening …’

While Ian Poole began his presentation with a review of the overtly mercantile auction scene, it seemed that his passion about photography, photographs, friends, shared experiences and the meaningfulness of the provenance of the works, that these things could not be commodified. He spoke of his collection of photos, books and ephemera as being an entity that would be bequeathed to his daughter Nicola, also a photographer and present at the talk. Through the audience he directed to Nicola to ‘treasure and look after these things … they were important, valuable – not only as the stories they depicted through their image on the front-side of the print, but also of the back-story of their origin and collection.’

There is no doubt that Ian Poole’s passion for photography and his understanding of how it operates at a personal and cultural level is something that was shared and communicated on this evening. And those present will be inspired to develop a new appreciation of what photographs are and what they can say about the human condition.

Doug Spowart  May 20, 2012

Ian talking with OTL attendees at the end of his presentation

An unusual meeting – Face-to-Face with an early portrait of one’s self – circa 1982 found in Poole’s collection

AIPP ON THE LOUNGE: SQIT Toowoomba April 11, 2012

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AIPP – On the lounge SQIT, Website invite

On this evening the SQIT Photoimaging team hosted two events for visiting AIPP members and invited guests. The visit began with a ‘High Tea’ catered for by the SQIT Hospitality team – sumptuous treats were accompanied by tea and coffee. Those attending settled down to conversation with each other in the convivial atmosphere of the ‘Futures’ Restaurant. Coffee Shop

At 5.30 stage two of the visit began with the open of an exhibition of photobooks and artists’ books made by SQIT Photo students over the last 5 years. The show was opened by Queensland Division President Jan Ramsay, who as a past student of an art photography unit, and also part of the end-of-year professional assessment team at SQIT, had experienced the Toowoomba TAFE Photo team at work.

Doug thanks Jan Ramsay for opening the ‘Brought to Book’ show

The books on show ranged from Shanea Rossiter’s ‘Inspiring Women’ book of portraits to Cathy Smith’s book ‘Junked’, a documentary comment on our disposable society and Lorraine Seipel’s political message in the book ‘Song for the future’. The exhibition was curated by Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart for the Queensland Festival of Photography.

‘Brought to Book’ opening @ Futures Gallery SQIT Toowoomba

The third stage of the program included presentations by the three full-time staff of the photo team – Rachel Susa, Alison Ahlhaus and Doug Spowart. Each spoke of their connection with photography from both the personal and professional context. Doug spoke of the 20-year history of the photo Diploma and Certificate courses at SQIT and the Photoimaging teaching methodology.

The session concluded with a PowerPoint show presenting a selection of images and comments from past students. It was interesting to hear of the experiences of these past students about studying at SQT as well as their achievement in photography. The past students included: AIPP Chairman of the Board Alice Bennett, Nicola Poole, Katie Finn, Lisa Mattiazzi – National Gallery of Australia imaging specialist, Lydia Shaw who works in many areas including photography and teaching in Dubai, nationally acclaimed commercial photographer Damien Bredberg, Sue Lewis – APPA Team Manager and recent graduate Shanea Rossiter who is establishing a business in Warwick.

The Past Students PowerPoint show (PPS) can be downloaded from the www.cooperandspowart.com.au website – It’s a 30.9 mb download but presents an interesting overview of where SQIT students go to and the amazing achievements that they have.   CLICK <http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/2_PLACES/OtherBooks/index.html> Then select the PowerPoint AIPP OTL picture.

The evening concluded with the video fusion show “Dance-on’ by 2011 SQIT Diploma Student of the Year. “Lindsey’s video represents the future of photography” said Doug, and added, “that the stilled image is dead!” The point was not debated, but in the context of an industry that has gone from wet darkrooms to light rooms and digital output in the last ten years everyone left knowing that anything is possible.

Cheers   Doug

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