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Posts Tagged ‘Queensland College of Art

NEW PHOTODOC SHOW Curated by Doug @ Maud Gallery

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In-situ - Frontispiece

In-situ – Frontispiece

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IN SITU: New Photodocumentary Work

 

At the end of 2015 I was the external assessor for the Queensland College of Art Bachelor of Photography Documentary stream. The work that I encountered from their recently completed documentary photography projects was inspiring. The projects that they had engaged in employed an ‘embedded’ methodology. Each photographer created stories expressing concepts and ideas that I felt deserved a wider audience. As some of the projects crossed-over into the slippery areas of art and concept documentation I felt that presenting the work in this context would encourage comment and discourse.

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Doug in an assessment @ the Queensland College of Art PHOTO: Earle Bridger

Doug in an assessment @ the Queensland College of Art PHOTO: Earle Bridger

 

I sought support from Irena Prikryl, Director of Brisbane’s Maud Gallery, with my intention being to curate a show of selected works. Over a week I forwarded to Irena websites and links to the student’s works – each submission was met with a response – ‘these photos are awesome!’ Irena then offered an exhibition early in 2016. In discussions with students I found that one of them was interested in curating and gallery management – so an honorary internship was offered to Gillian Jones.

 

The rationale for exhibition is as follows:

Every photograph is a document. A photographic document may be about a friend’s smile, a family event, a dramatic storm cloud or a dent in a car door. But, what about those documentary images that tell us about the greater aspects of life in our times? These other photographs can encompass the tragedies of human suffering, of rituals and habits, of things that escape our casual view of the world and documents of hidden acts, a performances or a ‘happening’.

The documentary photographs in this exhibition are made by photographers not working as the casual iPhone snapshot ‘photographer’ of today, but rather individuals who embed themselves in human and natural environments to witness, to empathise and to document with a camera so a story can be shared.

The documentary photographers in this exhibition present their work as evidence of what they have seen, felt and been touched by. This work represents new photodocumentary practice and will place viewers in situ – surrounded by issues of contemporary life…

 

The exhibitors who accepted the invitation were:  

Follow the links to the Maud Gallery website to see the projects (NOTE: Some links may now be inactive)

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Chris Bowes  for the work ‘Sweat

Richard Fraser  for the work ‘Pup play and beyond – exploring Brisbane’s BDSM subculture’

Gillian Jones for her work ‘Choice, Chance or Circumstance

Louis Lim  for his work ‘Waiting for Sunshine

David Mines for the work ‘Beautiful one day perfect the next?

Thomas Oliver for his work ‘Disconnection

Marc Pricop for the work ‘Our Place in The Valley

Elise Searson for her work ‘Karen’ Lyme disease sufferer

Cale Searston for his work ‘BLU

 

The show was opened by arts writer Louise Martin-Chew on March 9 who was to comment at the beginning of her address that:

I am not an expert on photo documentary: my interest is in art and artist stories. I’m interested in the way in which we may tell and share these stories most effectively, and it is the many narratives, often those that are hidden unless you are part of that experience, or sub culture, that is at the heart of this exhibition of new photography.

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Louise Martin-Chew opens 'In Situ' PHOTOS: Irena Prikryl

Louise Martin-Chew opens ‘In Situ’ PHOTOS: Irena Prikryl

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Well over 120 people attended the exhibition opening. A cash bar operated with the profits going to the Lyme Disease Association of Australia charity – associated with Elise Searson’s project’

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Opening attendees

Opening attendees

Opening attendees

Opening attendees

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Some views of the exhibition:

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David Mines' 'Beautiful one day perfect the next?'

David Mines’ ‘Beautiful one day perfect the next?’

Elise Searson's 'Karen' Lyme disease

Elise Searson’s ‘Karen’ Lyme disease

Richard Fraser's 'Pup play and beyond'

Richard Fraser’s ‘Pup play and beyond’

Thomas Olivers' 'Disconnection'

Thomas Olivers’ ‘Disconnection’

Louis' 'Waiting for Sunshine'

Louis’ ‘Waiting for Sunshine’

Chris Bowes' 'Sweat'

Chris Bowes’ ‘Sweat’

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Over the course of the exhibition each of the photographers presented a floortalk at the gallery. One contributor was Thomas Oliver, who is currently studying overseas in Toronto, Canada presented a Skype session in the gallery before his work.

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Gillian Jones presenting her floortalk

Gillian Jones presenting her floortalk

Thomas Oliver giving his floortalk by Skype

Thomas Oliver giving his floortalk by Skype

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The exhibition concluded on the 20th March with a dinner for the exhibitors and gallery members within the white walled empty space of the gallery.

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The artists' dinner @ Maud Gallery

The artists’ dinner @ Maud Gallery

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In my comments at the opening of the exhibition I stated that a documentary photograph does not exist until it is publically distributed. The exhibition, In Situ: New Photodocumentary Work, put this work and the stories it contains before an audience. Everyone seeing it may interpret this work differently; such is the nature of the photodocument. Perhaps the true value of photodocumentary work can be summed up in Louise martin-Chew’s closing statement:

The power of this collection of works by a very talented group is simply summed up I think: Art may not be able to save the world, but it has an unparalleled ability to help us understand the individuals that comprise a community, a country, a continent = the world. And that may be sufficient.

Thank you to Irena Prikryl and Maud Gallery, Gillian Jones, the contributing photographers and Louise Martin-Chew for a memorable and powerful photodocumentary exhibition of new works.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

 

 

Louise Martin-Chew’s opening address can be seen on her website: HERE

 

New-PhotoDoc Catalogue

New-PhotoDoc Catalogue

A catalogue of selected works from the show can be downloaded: NEW-DOC-CATALOGUE

Each of the photographer’s works can be seen on the Maud Gallery website under the participant’s names in the OUR ARTISTS menu – they can be purchased from the site as well.

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Unless attributed otherwise all texts and photographs are ©2016 Doug Spowart

FROM SMALL THINGS … : Queensland Small Towns Documentary Project

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Queensland Small Towns Documentary Project - Invite

Queensland Small Towns: Documentary Project – Invite

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Queensland Small Towns: Documentary Project

Brisbane Powerhouse, 12 November to 1 December, 2013

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Queensland’s regional areas are fast becoming the most common subject for the scrutiny of the photodocumentary image-makers. In August the Central Queensland Project exhibition was shown at the Powerhouse in Brisbane and now, only a few months later, another show entitled Queensland Small Towns: Documentary Project is hung in the same venue. This new contribution to the documentation of regional communities is a student/lecturer project initiated by the three big Institutions: University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and the Queensland College of Art (QCA).

With the support of academic staff, students of these photography and photojournalism faculties descended on the Queensland towns of Moranbah and Dalby. The exhibition’s coordinator Earle Bridger from QCA, chose these two regional localities because of the impact of mining. To add contemporary photodocumentary rigor to the activity, professional photographers: Russel Shakespeare, Adam Ferguson and Shehab Uddin were collaborators and advisors to the fieldwork.

The project’s mission, as stated in exhibition press, was to capture: ‘The stories, characters and everyday lives of people in Queensland outback towns’1. They further claim that:  ‘this unique photo-documentary project [will] reflect[s] the changing face of rural Queensland.’ 2

This project was instigated to provide an in-field experience for the students. They were charged with the challenge of avoiding the traditional news story and to: ‘capture a visually appealing and thought-provoking narrative to a high-professional standard.’ 3

The exhibition at the Brisbane Powerhouse was extensive–the photographic images and video interviews were shoehorned into every available space. This made viewing of the show a little like a ‘hide and seek’ exercise. Its curation within this space created a fragmented view confusing the holistic flow of the exhibition.

Queensland Small Towns Documentary Project - Installation ... Photo: Doug Spowart

Queensland Small Towns: Documentary Project – Installation … Photo: Doug Spowart

Queensland Small Towns Documentary Project - Installation ... Photo: Doug Spowart

Queensland Small Towns: Documentary Project – Video and Photo installation … Photo: Doug Spowart

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Under the tutelage of lecturers and the photodocumentary practitioners assigned the project, as well as study, research and personal preparation, one may think that these primary concerns are well covered. However there is one other critical factor–The preconditioning from existing media overexposure and hype. This rhetoric includes the following: That these small towns, besieged by the extraordinary pressures of the extractive mining industries, are places in a state of flux between the perceived benevolent farming practices of the past and the boisterous bully of mining. These once sleepy rural places are now zones of friction between itinerant workers, inadequate infrastructure, fractured families and ‘fracked’ communities. Any documentary commentator must not let this prejudice impede their impartial reportage. Furthermore one must consider methodological and ethical issues around the selection of subject/s, the gaining of access and trust and the authenticity of the resulting work.

All that aside, what of the exhibition Queensland Small Towns: Documentary Project? What I found was a proficient and diverse presentation of contemporary photodocumentary work. Mixed in amongst the contemporary trend of the bland document aesthetic were emotive and sensitive photographs of private lives in difficult times. Images were grouped as mini photo-essays enabling a concept or a subject to be pursued.

Importantly the opportunity provided to these students and the lecturers to get into the field is one of the best lessons they both can have. As mentor Russell Shakespeare comments: ‘I think these projects are so important on every level. To get students out working on self generated stories and also for the Town to have a group of photographers recording “History” as they see it, and then to be archived by the State Library, hopefully this project will continue on throughout other Qld Towns in years to come.’ 4

Unlike the financial reality that students may encounter in their post graduation world, a $50,000 Arts Queensland Creative Partnership Grant funded the Small Towns Documentary Project5.  And fittingly, considering the generous budget for the project, the photographs and video works will be gifted to the people of Queensland by their inclusion in the permanent collection of the State Library of Queensland.

This work will add to a significant archive for the future, however I’m concerned about the ‘thought-provoking narrative’ and its importance now. The exhibition at the Brisbane Powerhouse only marginally serves the purpose and power of contemporary documentary work … to communicate. No mention is given to exhibitions in Dalby and Moranbah–the communities that gave the project subject matter to image and document. The project is also left wanting in the application of eJournalism platforms like YouTube, Facebook, blogs and websites. Googling the project one encounters variations of the same succinct media release without external links to any online archive that says what was done, who did it and most importantly, provide a space for the communities documented to share and extend their stories.

The domain of the photodocumentary practitioner is not just the creation of material for the archive–its perhaps more important role is now, being in and of the times, and the communities and people who shared stories and submitted their lives to the gaze of these lens men and women. These stories are required now to inform, to cajole, to stir commentary and demand corporate and political acknowledgement, response and action. That’s where documentary photography does its best work …

Dr Doug Spowart

December 27, 2013

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1  http://brisbanepowerhouse.org/events/2013/11/12/queensland-small-towns-photo-documentary-project/

2  Ibid

3  http://www.uq.edu.au/sjc/qld-towns-project

4  Online correspondence from Russell Shakespeare

5  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/earle-bridger/b/521/737

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What follows are images and videos from the exhibition.

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Please Note: The photographs in this exhibition were presented as multiple image groups – only single images represent the photographer’s body of work. I have included the photographer’s statement under most images to give an understanding of their project and the context for the work. Most images in this review are from camera exposures within the exhibition environment and may not represent the image/s accurately due to reflections and uneven lighting.

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Al Phillips, Drilling Supervisor  Moranbah   Adam Ferguson and Brodie Standen, 2013

“Al Phillips, Drilling Supervisor + Chris Mannion, Driller, Moranbah” Photo: Adam Ferguson and Brodie Standen, 2013

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Kimberley McCosker Potential buyers survey a pen of cattle at the Dalby sale yards. The weekly auctions are Australia’s larget one-day cattle sale, with over 6,000 head of cattle passing through each week....Photo: Kimberley McCosker

Potential buyers survey a pen of cattle at the Dalby sale yards. The weekly auctions are Australia’s larget one-day cattle sale, with over 6,000 head of cattle passing through each week.Photo: Kimberley McCosker

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Joyce Coss 83 years old with "Waddles" her Sliky Cross. 63 years living in Warra Warra. Dalby Region. Russell Shakespeare 2013

“Joyce Coss”
83 years old with “Waddles” her Sliky Cross.
63 years living in Warra.
Photo: Russell Shakespeare 2013

Beyond the sporting ovals, on the outskirts of Moranbah, Sean lives in a trailer. The trailer is powered by a petrol generator and drinking water tanks are filled at a family member's house. He lives there by choice, a house has “too many walls” . Separated from his wife Sean shares custody of their 5 boys. Charlie, Darcy, Bailey, Harley, and Riley spend each weekend with their Dad and I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with them while they visited over school holidays.  With Moranbah as a backdrop, a town w here much of the population's main objective is obtaining and retaining material wealth, getting rich and getting out, Sean's lifestyle begs a closer look at what separates need and want. I would like to thank Charlie, Darcy, Bailey, Harley, Riley and Sean for their hospitality and allowing me to tag along with them. ...Photo: Cory Wright

Beyond the sporting ovals, on the outskirts of Moranbah, Sean lives in a trailer. The trailer is powered by a petrol generator and drinking water tanks are filled at a family member’s house. He lives there by choice, a house has “too many walls”. Separated from his wife Sean shares custody of their 5 boys. Charlie, Darcy, Bailey, Harley, & Riley spend each weekend with their Dad and I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with them while they visited over school holidays. With Moranbah as a backdrop, a town where much of the population’s main objective is obtaining and retaining material wealth, getting rich and getting out, Sean’s lifestyle begs a closer look at what separates need and want. I would like to thank Charlie, Darcy, Bailey, Harley, Riley & Sean for their hospitality & allowing me to tag along with them. Photo: Cory Wright

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Moranbah McDonald’s which lies on the outskirts of town. ... Photo: Julia Whitnell

“Moranbah McDonald’s which lies on the outskirts of town” Photo: Julia Whitwell

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Eva Turek-Jewkes-Queensland Small Towns Documentary Project

The Wilkie Creek Rural Fire Brigade in conjunction with other local fire brigades, coordinate necessary hazard reduction fires, as well as keeping life threatening fires at bay during the high risk summer season. Pictured [in my project] are their lives on a daily basis, as well as their involvement in a hazard reduction fire completed near Lake Broadwater in October, 2013. Photo: Eva Turek-Jewkes

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Four videos by students from the University of Queensland School of Journalism and Communication:

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Grassdale Feedlots ... Photo installation: Victoria Nikolova

“Grassdale Feedlots”
A curios 2 year old, 620kg Hereford steer in Grassdale Feedlots state of the art facility (to extreme left of series). Pens are cleared every 50 days as part of the facilities self-audited quality and health assurance measures. World class traceability systems allow staff to track, monitor and isolate specific data on each individual beast, including birth date, purchase date and origin, weight, breed, feeding ration and medical record. Established in 2008, Grassdale Feedlot is a 13,000 acre property 30kms south of Dalby centre. Currently with over 38,000 head of cattle and a capacity of up to 50,000 head, the feedlot boasts one of the largest and most technologically advanced feedlot facilities in Australia. The estimated $60 million facility employs over 50 staff and is a major driver in the economic stability of the Dalby, Millmerran and Chinchilla region and remains at the forefront of grain-fed beef production in Australia employing some ground breaking technologies in milling and feeding processes. Photo installation: Victoria Nikolova

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Grassdale Feedlots ... Photo installation (detail): Victoria Nikolova

“Grassdale Feedlots” Photo installation (detail): Victoria Nikolova

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Liss Fenwick Garden Bed. Cunningham Street ... Photo: Liss Fenwick

Garden Bed. Cunningham Street Photo: Liss Fenwick

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"Some Trash, Others Treasure" Pioneer Park Museum in Dalby seems a place suspended in time, somewhere around the beginning of the 20th century. Located on Black Street - once very quiet and peaceful but nowadays one of the main truck parking spots in town - the museum is a magical space with colonial houses and antique machinery, accompanied by rustling of leaves and birds trill. Elaine and Daniel Fox, the main founders, have lived on-site for almost 11 years, taking care of this magical place on a daily basis. They began 23 years ago with only seven antique tractors. Today, they can boast of one of the largest collections of operating antique agricultural machinery in Queensland - some of which date back to the early 19th century. Together with a few passionate volunteers they keep the place alive and once a year, during Field Weekend, the town of Dalby travels in time to discover again the old knowledge, tradition and way of living of their ancestors. The Museum is mostly financed by an annual fund from the local government, entry tickets, and the craft shop income and he Field Day. However, it is hard enough to keep it working, with a fast developing technology and little funding; they struggle to keep their museum operating in the modern, quickly changing mining town, that Dalby as become. ... Photo:  Kasia Strek

“Some Trash, Others Treasure”
Pioneer Park Museum in Dalby seems a place suspended in time, somewhere around the beginning of the 20th century. Located on Black Street – once very quiet and peaceful but nowadays one of the main truck parking spots in town – the museum is a magical space with colonial houses and antique machinery, accompanied by rustling of leaves and bird’s trill. Elaine and Daniel Fox, the main founders, have lived on-site for almost 11 years, taking care of this magical place on a daily basis. They began 23 years ago with only seven antique tractors. Today, they can boast of one of the largest collections of operating antique agricultural machinery in Queensland – some of which date back to the early 19th century. Together with a few passionate volunteers they keep the place alive and once a year, during Field Weekend, the town of Dalby travels in time to discover again the old knowledge, tradition and way of living of their ancestors. The Museum is mostly financed by an annual fund from the local government, entry tickets, and the craft shop income and the Field Day. However, it is hard enough to keep it working, with a fast developing technology and little funding; they struggle to keep their museum operating in the modern, quickly changing mining town, that Dalby has become. Photo: Kasia Strek

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No Access. This work is not against mining. For whether it be the computers we use to stay connected, the solar panels we purchase that make us feel socially responsible or the cameras I use to tell stories, mining is embedded into the fabric of the 215 t century. The debate should not be whether or not to mine, but rather how is mining to be controlled. What became obvious in Moranbah was that combined the mining companies controlled the political and social agendas. Through ostensibly generous salaries, subsidized housing and rare community donations mining companies have become the pushers and the population the addicts. Mine workers are afraid to speak to strangers for fear they are the media. Criticism is only whispered when in the company of friends. The right to have an opinion that may differ from the company has been severely eroded. To express that opinion puts job and home at risk. No Access argues that Australia should retain exclusive rights to its resource management. It argues for controlled mining. But most of all it presents a snapshot of the liberties we have sold in order to satisfy those who seek to maximize profits and minimize social responsibility. Moranbah. David Lloyd. 2013.

“No Access”
This work is not against mining. For whether it be the computers we use to stay connected, the solar panels we purchase that make us feel socially responsible or the cameras I use to tell stories, mining is embedded into the fabric of the 21st century. The debate should not be whether or not to mine, but rather how is mining to be controlled. What became obvious in Moranbah was that combined the mining companies controlled the political and social agendas. Through ostensibly generous salaries, subsidized housing and rare community donations mining companies have become the pushers and the population the addicts. Mine workers are afraid to speak to strangers for fear they are the media. Criticism is only whispered when in the company of friends. The right to have an opinion that may differ from the company has been severely eroded. To express that opinion puts job and home at risk. No Access argues that Australia should retain exclusive rights to its resource management. It argues for controlled mining. But most of all it presents a snapshot of the liberties we have sold in order to satisfy those who seek to maximize profits and minimize social responsibility. Moranbah. David Lloyd. 2013.

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The photographers and video producers retain all copyright in their images and presentations. Text and installation photographs © 2013 Doug Spowart

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August 14: QLD COLLEGE of ART – OPEN DAY – Gold Coast

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On Sunday we visited the Griffith University’ Open Day at the Gold Coast Campus. Both Vicky and I are QCA Alumni – I go back to 1972 when it was simply the ‘College of Art’ and a sessional teacher from 1977 to 1993. Vicky from 1992 as a student of the Associate Diploma of Photography program. We’ve never visited the Gold Coast campus – it’s a remarkably fresh looking place in a natural bushland environment. Students manned the info tents and displays alongside lecturers and their presentation packages represented quality outcomes for their graduating students. They offer interesting and contemporary programs in photography, ephotojournalism, fine art and commercial photography.

Vicky@QCA Open Day - Gold Coast

While in the studio we met up with photo lecturer Jack Picone. A fellow PhD candidate – exchanged some interesting ideas about the challenges of professional practice, teaching and keeping up with the demands of higher ed academic study. Jack has worked around the world as a photojournalist – he showed us a book of his amazing work.

Visit Jack Picone’s website – http://www.jackpiconeportfolio.com

We also caught up with long term QCA identity Earle Bridger who up until last week was deputy director of the QCA Gold Coast campus. Earle has transferred back to the South Brisbane campus.

Jack Picone, Earle Bridger & Doug

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