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AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND PHOTOBOOKS OF THE YEAR 2015

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ANZ-LOGO

 

AUSTRALIAN + NEW ZEALAND PHOTOBOOK @ MAUD GALLERY

 

The photobook continues to capture the imagination of not just photographers but a broader community who enjoy ‘reading’ the visual nature of photostories. Part of the enthusiasm for the photobook lies in the diversity of the discipline from hand-made zines stapled together on the kitchen table to the slick graphic design of commercially printed books. The other major aspect of interest in the photobook is it’s accessibility – anyone can make his or her own book within the diverse range of practice. How then can the best books be acknowledged, rewarded and celebrated?

In Australia there have been awards for photographic books such as the Australian Institute of Professional Photography’s Photography Book of the Year Award, and more recently the Australian Photobook of the Year. This year for the first time, New Zealand photographers were able to enter their own Photobook of the Year Awards and have the ‘best’ books defined by a group of respected photobook judges and commentators on the art. An important contributor in the development of a critical evaluation structure for photobooks in Australia and New Zealand is the ongoing work being done by Australian print-on-demand service provider Momento Pro. Once again Momento Pro teamed up with Heidi Romano of Photobook Melbourne to sponsor and coordinate the Australian award. The creation of a New Zealand photobook award was also sponsored through Momento Pro’s local branch was coordinated with the organisers of this year’s inaugural Photobook New Zealand event in Wellington.

From April 14-22, under the auspices of the Brisbane Photobook Club, I coordinated an exhibition of the award winners and the finalists of both the Australian and the New Zealand Photobook of the Year Awards at Brisbane’s Maud Gallery. A special ‘launch’ event was followed by around a week of potential viewing time for those interested in seeing 26 of the ‘best’ books from our part of the world.

Conscious of the need to provide a ‘reading’ experience rather than the usual gallery ‘viewing’, Vicky and I installed the books within the gallery space on tables with chairs or stools. To highlight the winners, I chose to place these four books on plinths and therefore provide not only a prominent positioning within the space but also to allow a more intimate access the books without the visual ‘clutter’ of other displayed works and their readers.

 

The tables setup

The tables setup

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Around 60 people attended the launch event. It was an unusual gallery experience as attendees found a space at a table, sat down and began reading. Moving on occasionally to the next chair and the selection of books in close proximity. A group of students clustered around certain books discussing quietly amongst themselves the book design and narrative features that interested them. I had intended to present a welcome and a short talk about the books but chose not to as it just seemed that everyone was engrossed in the process of reading. The video made in one part of the evening shows the intensity of the ‘shush — I’m reading’ vibe permeating the gallery.

 

 

That evening, and over the following days, I had many conversations with those who had come to see the show. Many attendees enquired about technical production attributes of the books. Some seemed to have been expecting a collection of books that were of a more traditional bookshop nature. Readers noted the diversity of physical forms of the photobook, how the story was communicated and the themes pursued by these successful book award entrants. Most attendees enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award.

 

ANZ Photobooks of the Year @ Maud Gallery

ANZ Photobooks of the Year @ Maud Gallery

 

An interesting topic of discussion emerging from conversations with attendees related to the current categories of entry and the characteristics of the selected books. It was noted that the awarded books and finalists from both categories seemed to blur these category perceptions. This is in part because self-publishers may create ‘trade-like’ products and trade publishers may make ‘creative style products’.

Ultimately it comes down to the question ‘Did they like what they saw?’ I would say yes… although some comments related to the seriousness of selected photobooks as they often dealt with austere, conceptual themes or raw documentary – ‘Where are the happy books?’ one reader commented.

Would they come again to another Photobook of the Year showing? I would think they would. Many indicated that they would enter the next awards…

A call for entries in the 2016 Photobook of the Year Awards will be made later in the year

 

REPORT: Doug Spowart

 

WHAT FOLLOWS ARE COMMENTS ABOUT EACH AWARD AND THE WINNERS

(Edited from the Awards’ press releases)

 

APBOTY LOGO

APBOTY LOGO

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AUSTRALIAN PHOTOBOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2015

The judging panel included representatives from photography, publishing and art institutions, and was co-chaired by international art consultant and curator, Alasdair Foster, and Photobook Melbourne Director, Heidi Romano. The judges assessed the physical books for excellence in photography, layout and design, and the suitability of the format for the book’s theme and purpose, resulting in a selection of 14 finalist books.

The winners were announced at the Photobook Melbourne project space, Southbank, on 25 February. “Australian photographers are continuing to embrace the book format as a means for exploring, documenting and disseminating photography, just as locally created photography books and the artists behind them are being applauded internationally,” stated Foster. “Our finalists prove that a successful photo book does not require a major capital investment or an expensive publicity machine, but it does require a strong and engaging visual narrative in a sophisticated design, as well as genuine relationships within the photo book community.”

 

Generation AK: The Afghanistan Wars, 1993 - 2012

Generation AK: The Afghanistan Wars, 1993 – 2012 by Stephen Dupont

TRADE PUBLISHED

WinnerGeneration AK: The Afghanistan Wars, 1993 – 2012 by Stephen Dupont, Steidl –

CommendedBelanglo by Warwick Baker, Perimeter Editions, Dan Rule –

CommendedBirdland by Leila Jeffreys, Hachette

Finalists

+ The Middle of Somewhere by Sam Harris, Ceiba Foto

+ Arc by Zoe Croggon, Perimeter Editions, Asia Pacific Photobook Archive

+ Limits to Growth by James Farley, Currency Editions

 

Winner – Red Herring by Jordan Madge

SELF-PUBLISHED WINNER – Red Herring by Jordan Madge

 

SELF PUBLISHED

WinnerRed Herring by Jordan Madge

CommendedYour love is not safe with me by Ailsa Bowyer –

CommendedLA – NY by Sam Wong and Jack Shelton –

Finalists

+ By the River by Ian Flanders

+ The Smell of Narenj by Hoda Afshar

+ Magic City #2 by Chloe Ferres

+ The Moon Belongs to Everyone by Stacy Mehrfar

+ STAN by Christian Belgaux and Jack Pam

People’s Choice – The Middle of Somewhere by Sam Harris, Ceiba Foto

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NZPBOTY LOGO

NZPBOTY LOGO

 

 

THE NZPBOTY WINNERS

THE NZPBOTY WINNERS

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NEW ZEALAND PHOTOBOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2015

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The judging panel, chaired by David Cook, a Senior Lecturer in photography at Massey University, Wellington, selected 13 finalist books that presented excellence in photography, layout and design, and whose format complemented the book’s theme and purpose.

“The best works presented a carefully edited selection of images, in an engaging visual narrative, with sophisticated design that didn’t overwhelm the imagery,” stated Cook, “Age and experience weren’t the defining characteristics, it was the skill of visual storytelling and the ability to combine photos with graphics, text and materials to enhance the story told by the images, to create a new artwork in its own right.”

 

NZPOTY Trade Winner_Purdom

Winner – From Certainty to Doubt by Mark Purdom

 

 

Trade Published
WinnerFrom Certainty to Doubt by Mark Purdom, Ramp Press
CommendedCreamy Psychology by Yvonne Todd, Victoria University Press
CommendedVernacular by David Straight, Potton & Burton
Finalists

New Zealand Photography Collected by Te Papa Press
Karakia by Ben Clement, Sallyann Clement, Bloom Publishing
The Imperial Body by Fiona Amundsen, split/fountain

 

F.16 G3 20/25/30 by Solomon Mortimer

F.16 G3 20/25/30 by Solomon Mortimer

 

Self Published
WinnerF.16 G3 20/25/30 by Solomon Mortimer
CommendedCascade by Shelley Jacobson
CommendedThe Inbetween by Georgia Periam
Finalists

Some kind of life in dying by Shelley Ashford
The Reality Principle by Yvonne Shaw
Waipureku by Conor Findlay
When the sun sets your eyes change colour by Solomon Mortimer & + Zahra Killeen-Chance

People’s Choice Waipureku by Conor Findlay

 

A PDF Catalogue of the New Zealand Awards is available NZPOTY 2015 Exhibition Brochure

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All photographs of books and the individual awards text supplied by Momento Pro.
Photographs @ Maud Gallery and introductory text ©2016 Doug Spowart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WORLD PHOTOBOOK DAY – The Photobook Club Brisbane events

with 3 comments

WPD Poster

WPD Poster

 

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For photobook people the 14th of October is World Photobook Day (WPD) and celebrations worldwide are coordinated through the Photobook Club group. On this day in 1843, the British Library catalogued Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions by Anna Atkins, and is therefore considered historically significant as the first official record of a published photobook. In 2013 Victoria Cooper and I organised an event in Toowoomba. This year as part of my Siganto Foundation Artists’ Book Research Fellowship we arranged two events to take place at The Edge facility that is part of the SLQ.

 

World Photobook Day 2014 - Photo Doug Spowart - Photobook Club event Brisbane @ The E

The QCP WPB event

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The first event was arranged for Queensland Centre for Photography members to view contemporary photobooks, artists’ books, photo-zines and photo-papers from our collection. Around 30 publications, mainly by Australian photographers and artists, were presented to a group of around 18 participants. This selection included two books, Ying Ang’s Gold Coast and John Elliott’s Ju Raku En, which were launched only in the last few weeks. Staff members from the Australian Library of Art attended this opportunity to view examples of this emergent book genre.

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With Ying Ang's Gold Coast

With Ying Ang’s Gold Coast

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The main Photobook Club WPD event took place in the evening and was attended by around 24 participants. Each brought along their favourite photobook to share and discuss with their fellow attendees. The oldest book presented was a photographic portrait book from the 1860s, and the more recent books included, W Eugene Smith’s The BIG Book, Spada’s Gomorrah Girl, and Spottorno’s PIGS. Many participants contributed their own print on demand books, or bespoke handmade artists’ books thereby representing the spectrum of the photo and the book.

A special part of the evening WPD event was a presentation by Dr Gael E. Phillips about Anna Atkins, her family and motivations for her cyanotype work. Phillips, a local Brisbane resident, is a distant cousin of Atkins shared her extensive research of this significant family connection. The assembled group were presented with the fascinating story of Anna Atkins (‘Anna Children’ – her maiden name), her father – George, relatives and networks in photography, science and society in nineteenth century England. Two attendees Dr Marcel Saffier and Sandy Barrie both significant photo historians showed a strong interest in Phillip’s research and talk.

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Gael makes her Anna Atkins presentation

Gael makes her Anna Atkins presentation

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Apart from the two events we curated this year, two new South-East Queensland organisers also presented WPD events. This provides evidence that there is a strong interest in seeing, talking about, publishing and collecting photobooks.

As part of my Fellowship activities I’m scheduling further events to keep the interest in his research growing, and to promote a greater awareness of the significant resource of ‘the photograph and the book’ held by the State Library of Queensland.

Keep in touch…    Doug Spowart.

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Anna Atkins-Portrait 1861

Anna Atkins-Portrait 1861

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What follows is a precis of Dr Phillips’ presentation:

Anna Atkins (1799-1871) is now recognised as being the first person to publish a book using a photographic technique. This recognition has come late but is, I think, largely due to the work of Prof Larry Schaaf. My cousins, Jean Doggett, Elizabeth Parkes and I were also doing similar research at the same time because of a family link with the Children family. The Children family have been long established in Kent and trace their family back to Simon a Children in 1370.

Anna Atkins was born, Anna Children, her mother dying when she was a few months old, but she grew up in a wealthy household surrounded by family friends who included many of the great Gentlemen Scientists of the Regency period and later. These included Sir Humphry Davy, Dr W H Wollaston, Sir Joseph Banks, the Herschels and William Henry Fox Talbot. Her father, John George Children, was a well known scientist in the first half of the nineteenth century and his publications include descriptions of the largest electrical battery ever built, which he and his father constructed in their own laboratory at their home, Ferox Hall, in Tonbridge.

Following the failure of the Tonbridge Bank, George Children, Anna’s grandfather, was bankrupted. His properties were sold to pay the creditors of the bank. His son, John George Children, obtained a position at the British Museum, and appears in the painting of the Temporary Elgin Marble Room in 1819. Initially in the Antiquities Department, he later became the Keeper of Minerals and then the Keeper of Zoology.

Anna Children illustrated Lamarck’s ‘Genera of Shells’ which her father had translated. In 1825 Anna married John Pelly Atkins JP, and they made their home at Halstead Place. Mr Atkins was made High Sheriff of Kent for 1847.

In 1841 a Manual on British Algae was published. Anna used the Cyanotype process, newly invented by a close family friend, Sir John Herschel, to make numerous images of British seaweeds. The first volume appeared in 1843 and pre-dated William Henry Fox Talbot’s ‘Pencil of Nature’.

Anna’s father acted as an intermediary in her scientific endeavours, writing to Hooker at Kew Gardens about the progress of the imaging of the algae and Hooker, in turn, instructed Anna in botany. Her father’s chemical knowledge was invaluable in the production of the cyanotypes. Father and daughter had a very close relationship and when her father died on the first day of January 1852 she was grief stricken. Her Memoir of J G Children, privately published in 1853, was modestly signed AA, as were her volumes of cyanotypes of British seaweeds. The memoir includes poetry written by her grandfather, George, her father, John George and also poetry she herself wrote.

We celebrate the anniversary of the accessioning of the first of her volumes of cyanotypes into the Library of the British Museum. Anna Atkins, nee Children was an artist – she drew, she did lithography and was an author, writing poetry and the memoir of her father. She was also a scientific illustrator as well as being the first woman to produce a photo book and, many believe, the first woman photographer. She has no descendants but is memorialised in a beautiful mollusc, Anna Children’s lucine, Miltha childreni (Gray 1824). Her father is also memorialised in a number of animals, including molluscs and insects and the mineral Childrenite.

Gael E Phillips.
14 October 2014

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Doug makes a thankyou presentation to Gael

Doug makes a thankyou presentation to Gael

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Other images from the events…

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The Anna Atkins 'memorial' with Larry J Schaaf's book 'Sun Gardens'

The Anna Atkins ‘memorial’ with Larry J Schaaf’s book Sun Gardens

World Photobook Day Photobook Club event Brisbane @ The Edge Photo Doug Spowart

Looking at the books brought to the event

World Photobook Day Photobook Club event Brisbane @ The Edge Photo Doug Spowart

The artists’ photobook end of the books brought along by Adele Outeridge, Mel Brackstone and Jan Ramsay

World Photobook Day Photobook Club event Brisbane @ The Edge Photo Doug Spowart

Looking at W Eugene Smith’s BIG BOOK.

World Photobook Day Photobook Club event Brisbane @ The Edge Photo Doug Spowart

Checking out Jacob Raupatch’s newspaper

 

FOTO FRENZY’S WPD Event

With Doc Ross' book 37 @ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

With Doc Ross’ book 37 @ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

Ian Poole @ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

Ian Poole @ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

@ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

@ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

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Until next year….

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pbc-logo-1

PBC logo

 

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