Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

Posts Tagged ‘State Library of Victoria

The photobook event that THE VIRUS TOOK AWAY

leave a comment »

Some Antipodean Photobooks from the Tate project PHOTOCOLLAGE: Doug Spowart


On the weekend of May 2-3 2020 there was a weekend of major photobook activities planned for the PHOTO 2020 International Photo Festival in Melbourne.


A significant component of the event: A seminal selection of 52 Australian and New Zealand Photobooks* from the State Library of Victoria’s collection was to be made available for public viewing.

On Sunday May 3 international photobook guru Martin Parr was to team up with local photobook aficionado Doug Spowart in a public Q&A session. Of particular interest were their methodologies and considerations for reviewing photobooks. Among other questions it was proposed that they respond to the contentious issues of ‘What validates a book for it to be considered eligible to be included in a canon of photobooks?’ and ‘How such curated selections can energise the recognition for photobooks?’

It was planned that the panel interviewers and contributors to the discussion would be renown writer and Photojournalism Now publisher Alison Stieven-Taylor and would also include the celebrated New Zealand photobook maker and Massey University lecturer David Cook.

An additional event to add to the PHOTO 2020 Photobook Weekend was a major Photobook Fair that would include major publishers, significant photobook makers, a showing of the ANZ Photobook Awards, photobook manufacturers and POD suppliers, workshops and info sessions.


However the COVID-19 pandemic was to change all that …



March 15, 2020 post on the PHOTO 2020 Facebook page

March 15, 2020 post on the PHOTO 2020 Facebook page


The PHOTO2020 event, retitled as PHOTO2021 is being rescheduled with the new dates of 18 February – 7 March 2021.

Thank you to founder and Artistic Director Elias Redstone and Producer Rachel Ciesla from the PHOTO 2020 team and Des Cowley from the State Library of Victoria for their efforts to bring this project into fruition. And we look forward to being part of the programme on the rescheduled dates…


Keep up to date with PHOTO 2021

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/photofestivalau/

WEBSITE: https://photo.org.au/

 The PHOTO 2021 team have been posting video interviews with a diverse group of international photographers and artists – Check them out…


FACEBOOK: Photo 2021-Photo Live




*52 Antipodean Photobooks: A beginning for a canon of the ANZ photobook

In 2019 the Tate Library received a selection of 52 photographically illustrated books from the Australian and New Zealand region. The books were curated by Australian photobook aficionado Dr Doug Spowart and were specially chosen to extend the Antipodean photobook presence within Martin Parr’s 12.5K photobook donation to the Tate in 2017.

Doug Spowart’s Tate commission came as a result of his meeting with Martin Parr at the 2017 Vienna Photobook Festival. Parr attended Spowart’s lecture on the Antipodean photobook at the Festival and saw examples of the 2016 ANZ Photobook of the Year Awards.

Martin Parr and Doug Spowart reviewing ANZ photobooks at the SLV for consideration to be included in the Tate submission. January 2018. ….. PHOTO: Victoria Cooper


In early 2018 Spowart met with Parr at the State Library of Victoria and shared with him a selection of the photobooks that had been curated for proposed Tate purchase.

While interest in the photobook has resulted in publications and scholarship from every major country in the world the same has not been the case for the Antipodean photobooks. Spowart sees the PHOTO 2020/2021 event as being an opportunity to celebrate ANZ photobooks and bring recognition to the local contemporary and historical publications. To this end Doug Spowart has published a blog entitled The Antipodean Photobook and a FACEBOOK page The Photobook in Australia and New Zealand (under construction @ May 2020).



Looking forward to PHOTO2021: 18 February – 7 March 2021






with one comment


A day at Baldessin Press Studio: The State Library of Victoria’s Creative Fellowships


William Kelly, SLV Creative Fellow and Baldessin Press Studio Residency recipient

William Kelly, SLV Creative Fellow and Baldessin Press Studio Residency recipient


On September 27 a special event took place at the Baldessin Press Studio , St Andrews just northeast of Melbourne. The studio was built by George Baldessin who was a charismatic figure in the history of Australian art, especially in Melbourne in the 1970s. He had a brilliant career as a sculptor and printmaker, and was already considered an important figure in the history of Australian art at the time of his tragic accidental death in 1978 at the age of 39. The studio is situated in a bushland setting and is accompanied by a house and several buildings built by Baldessin and his wife Tess assisted by others including the Hails brothers.*


Baldessin’s passing put activity in the studio on hold for some years until Tess returned in 2001. Since then she has worked to re-ignite the creative potential of the place in George’s memory so that artists may continue to create in this special place and perpetuate his generous spirit.

Part of the program of the Press includes the State Library of Victoria’s The Baldessin Press Studio Residency that gives one of the SLV’s Creative Fellowship recipients working in any field the opportunity to create a body of work. The Residency may include accommodation, printmaking tuition, living expenses and some materials. The recipient will also have the opportunity to participate in a ‘Bon a Tirer’ event during the year to present their project to the Library, public, partners and other supporters. Artist Rick Amor generously supports the Baldessin Press Studio Residency.


William Kelly, SLV Creative Fellow and Baldessin Press Studio Residency recipient

William Kelly, 2015 SLV Creative Fellow and Baldessin Press Studio Residency recipient


The 2015 Residency recipient was leading Victorian artist William Kelly a former Fulbright Fellow and Dean of the Victorian College of the Arts from 1975–82. His SLV research project dealt with Australian visual artists practicing between World War I and today, whose works have been informed by their beliefs about war and peace. His intention was to create an ‘accordion’ artist’s book – literally an unfolding story – that celebrated and connected the work of these artists*. In a comment about the body of creative work made as a result of the Baldessin Press Studio Residency Kelly was to say:

I have a profound belief that we can make this world be a better place but I don’t delude myself that it will, in any way, be easy. Art can play a part in this and artists can contribute to the larger debates about our future.  I’ve been quoted as saying, “a painting will never stop a bullet but a painting (print, photograph, novel…) can stop a bullet from being fired”.  These works, the “Baldessin Press Folio: Not in My Name” and the artist book “Fellow Travellers: An Unfolding Story” are testament to my belief in the power of the image.  The first “Not in My Name” has images that refer to the ideas of courage, loss, innocence and unequivocally taking a stand.


Kelly-teddyKelly-The Cross (for Hugo Throssell, Pacifist) (583x800)Kelly feather-1000


The second “Fellow Travellers…” is something of a tribute to those Australian artists, writers, filmmakers who, over the past 100 years (from WW1 to today) have publicly stood by their beliefs.  It references many significant artist/activists from Noel Counihan to Arthur Boyd to those who took a stance against the Transfield Sculpture exhibition (as a result of Transfield’s role in detention centres).  Those who are on this journey are, for me, ‘fellow travellers’ and as this list is nowhere near complete and increasing numbers of artists are becoming known for their position on peace, human rights, reconciliation and social justice it is an “unfolding story”.


William Kelly's Fellow Travellers

William Kelly’s Fellow Travellers


VIDEO: William Kelly discusses his Baldessin Press Studio Residency works


At the event the 2016 Baldessin Press Studio Residency recipient was announced. The recipient is Nicola Stairmand who works as an independent heritage consultant, curator and designer, combining her skills to research and interpret places of significance. She is currently employed at TarraWarra Museum of Art, where she assists with research and exhibition design.*


SLV lady, Nicola Stairmand, Ric Amour and Tess Edwards

Indra Kurzeme SLV, Nicola Stairmand, Ric Amor and Tess Edwards


Stairmand’s project will seek to describe everyday life at Coranderrk Aboriginal Station, established in 1863 and closed in 1924, contributing to a greater understanding of its history. Using the State Library’s photographic and documentary collections, Nicola will research and produce a series of illustrative maps supported by images and descriptions.*

The formal proceedings took place on a bright and sunny spring afternoon with a kind of conviviality and informality that occurs when friends and community gather to share and celebrate important events. George Baldessin would certainly approve of this SLV Creative Fellowship and the part the press plays in bringing about new work.



The Baldessin Press Studio Team

Click on their names to go to the Baldessin Press Studio Biogs…


Tess Edwards (Baldessin)

Tess Edwards - Baldessin Press Studio SLV Creative Fellowship Residency announc


Lloyd Godman

Lloyd Godman - Baldessin Press Studio SLV Creative Fellowship Residency announc


Rob Hails

Rob Hails-Baldessin Press Studio SLV Creative Fellowship Residency announcement event Spetember 27, 2015


Silvi Glattauer

Silvi Glattauer-Baldessin Press Studio SLV Creative Fellowship Residency announc


Deanna Hitti (Baldessin’s master printer)

Deanna Hitti - Baldessin Press Studio SLV Creative Fellowship Residency announc




All photographs and video ©2015 Doug Spowart.
*Some texts paraphrased from SLV & Baldessin Press Studio websites. William Kelly artworks and text ©2015 William Kelly.



SUPPORT THIS PROJECT: Retake Melbourne App

leave a comment »

In the opening paragraph of a review of John Elliott’s rephotography exhibition The Last Show and Re-shoot that was published in Art Monthly (#240 June 2011) I made the following comment:

Part of the mystique bestowed upon photography is the notion that a photograph captures a moment of time that enables a viewer to reconnect with or gain insights into the subject portrayed. Since its inception photographers have utilised photography’s inherent connection with time and place by reimaging the original subject days, months and years after the originating photographic ‘moment’. One notable re-photography project began in the 1970s by Mark Klett and his team in the United States with the Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project, and continues with the recent Third views, second sights: a rephotographic survey of the American West. These projects draw upon the concept that comparative images over time extend the narrative of the single image, and that the differences and similarities observed tell a larger story – that of time and change.

I am excited by rephotography projects and from the early 1980s I have undertaken many myself. Now I have encountered news of an exciting project in Melbourne that will make this specialised photographic activity available to anyone with a smart phone or imaging device . Entitled Retake Melbourne the project will do two significant things; firstly, it will create an APP where earlier photographs of Melbourne can be located and aligned for the contemporary photographer to image the exact same view; and secondly, the source images will be from the the Sate Library of Victoria’s extensive Mark Strizic photography collection.

The project is being ‘floated’ via Pozible crowd sourcing, and time is running out to ensure this project gets the support to make it happen. I would ask you to review the project details that follow – login to Pozible, and make a pledge to support this valid and innovative project.

Thanking You

Doug Spowart


Here are the details … From the POZIBLE Project page



Retake-Pozible Page


POZIBLE – Project Title: Retake Melbourne


We Melburnians jealously defend our city as the ‘most live-able’; a cultured grande dame with a creative dash, anti-establishment street art, a larrikin love of football and lots of delicious secrets. 

To participate in this project will be to illuminate and contrast her hidden past with her contemporary face.

Key to this is the mine of visual data in the State Library of Victoria’s collection, in particular immigrant Australian photographer Mark Strizic’s 5000 half-century-old negatives, colour transparencies and slides, acquired in 2007.


When associate Greg Neville saw this archive, he envisaged a repeat photography project based on Strizic’s images which would uncover the glorious Melbourne buildings of his childhood memories. 

We’d like to share this chance to retake Melbourne’s past. But re-photography is technically demanding. I realised that a mobile app would make the process accessible to everyone. 


Image: © Mark Strizic: Melbourne GPO, 1950s

Mobile App mockup: © Strizic image overlay enables user to compose their own version accurately

A finished ‘re-photograph’ accurately duplicating Strizic photograph angle of view

By tapping the ‘crowd’ we can include you in this project. Your images might become valuable records, as Strizic’s are now, to researchers in the still further future! They will compare your view with Mark’s to see how the city has changed. You can be in on the birth of Melbourne’s first comparative photographic research project.

But first we need the tech to do it; a photography app that contributors will be first to use!


Close associate of architects Robyn Boyd and David Saunders, Strizic’s love of architecture and his European eye provoked his condemnation of the ugliness he saw invading Australian city-scapes during the 1960s when architecture of the Gold Rush era coexisted with, and was being demolished for, Modernist curtain-glass high-rise office buildings.

LHS Image: © Mark Strizic: Russell Street Melbourne, 1950s

RHS image: Greg Neville: Russell Street Melbourne, 2013

Image: © Mark Strizic: Melbourne Museum and State Library, 1950s


By contributing to the development of our crowd-funded app, you will create the means to contribute accurate repeat photography of the locations of Strizic’s thirty-to-fifty year-old images of architecture, street-scenes and pedestrians, and to uncover the layers of history.

Historical and Creative results

Re-photography is studied and recognised for its value for historical, scientific, geographic, geologic and social science research; this use of crowd sourced material will be innovative.

Rather than being slavish copies of old photos, yours will be interpretations of Strizic’s originals which will build a picture of how a city has changed, and is in turn transforming us. There is a creative dimension in the ratio of interpretation to replication each contributor will employ in this process, that will add to value of their artefact. Their resultant contribution may be incorporated in the SLV online collection for comparison, by these and future researchers, with Strizic’s original.

The Mobile App: 

With this app, members of the public can find locations photographed by Strizic on a map, orient their device’s camera closely to the angle, orientation and framing that he used using a transparent overlay of his image, downloaded from the SLV online collection, over their screen image.

This app will simplify the repeat photography exercise and enable you to produce a comparative image which will match or contrast existing conditions and features with those in his original image.

Contribute to our shared archive:

The State Library of Victoria‘s huge archive opens up a rich resource for Victorians online; now that everyone can access it; they can also interact with it. This crowd-sourced project will give the archive more exposure and contribute new resources.

Provide a resource for future research:

The Strizic archive forms a reference for participants who will be asked to repeat the making of the images in the same location. In doing so they will record a contemporary street scene peopled with pedestrians who may regard, occupy and use the city of Melbourne in very different ways now.


Increase your own knowledge of Melbourne and Photography:

Part of the durable, interactive and updatable project outcomes is that participants will make a substantial contribution, they in turn will benefit from the exercise of finding the locations in coming to understand at first hand the operation of the forces of change on the city, the influences of crowd behaviour on the city, and its power to change us and our societal interactions. You too can become a ‘re-photographer’!

  1. What will your contribution do?

Level of funding sought: $6,000 – $10,000

A huge volume of photographic contributions will be required to enable worthwhile comparison of the old and new images to show how Melbourne’s buildings and streets have shaped, and are shaped by, its populace and its society. Achieving the necessary quantity and accuracy will require $6,000 base funding for the development and distribution of a mobile-device app.


$6000 will pay for six months of the developer’s time in building the app.

Researcher Dr James McArdle, will contribute $12,000 in-kind support; for research into the State Library collection and mapping of locations of Strizic images for GPS locator in the app.


*Reaching $10,000:

will enable us to map significantly more locations and to pinpoint the date/time of capture for more Strizic photographs as a guide to the re-photographers.

Twitter: JamesmMcArdle




Camera/Eye Blog

Content on this page is licensed under

%d bloggers like this: