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Posts Tagged ‘Toowoomba Art


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Doug in the exhibition space PHOTO: Victoria Cooper


SAME SITES HINDSIGHT – Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery


For me rephotography is a way of re-viewing place and change through a comparative documentation using the perspectives of earlier photographers. I have always enjoyed the challenge to re-align the contemporary view with the past to see visual narratives of change either subtle or profound. At this time I discovered the work by Mark Klett and others published in their 1984 book Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project. Their approach to the reimaging of the photographs of the American west by William Henry Jackson, Timothy O’Sullivan and others in the 1860s was methodical and scientific. Although I was informed by this seminal work as a record of social and historical change, in some of my work I also enjoyed questioning the notion of the original photographers as a kind of truth.


In the mid 1980s I rephotographed tourist postcard scenes in outback Australia and reimaged tourist camera photos placing them in the context of a wider-angled view. These projects were presented at the Araluen Art Gallery in Alice Springs in 1986 in the exhibition Tourists Facts, Acts, Rituals & Relics.

Other projects emerged including a commission from Di Baker, Director of the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery to locate the subject matter of artworks from the Toowoomba Gallery’s collection and to re-image the subject by photography.

The artworks that were my source reference covered a range of approaches to the artist’s vision imbued with the appearance of the painting techniques that they employed. Working with Victoria we travelled around the region to find the matching locations and met with some success finding the exact location. On occasion however we were only able to create a general locational view.

I chose a 4×5 large format camera and a black and white film made by Polaroid. Called Type 55 the film gave a black and white print and also a negative that, after in-field processing could be printed in a conventional enlarger.

The 1996 the exhibition NEW SIGHTS – SAME SITES was opened at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery and installation of the selected artworks were paired with our photographic interpretation of the same scene.

Now 23 years later the Gallery has re-presented the work for reconsideration by a new generation of art gallery visitors.


Don Featherstone (L) Golden Tree (Corner of Kitchener and Herries Streets)1959 watercolour Spowart+Cooper (R) Corner of Kitchener and Herries Streets 1996 silver gelatin fibre print



The Gallery wall sheet for the Same Sites Hindsights exhibition states:

In 1996 photographer Doug Spowart assisted by Victoria Cooper undertook a project called New sight-Same sites which re-imaged Downs landscapes and other regional sites depicted in selected works from the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery Toowoomba City Collection.

The project compared and contrasted the direct recording of a site using photography with the painter’s vision of the same location. One of the biggest challenges for Spowart in making these images was to replicate the painters’ viewpoints and, in some instances, even finding the locations proved problematic.

From the time of the initial recording to now, almost 25 years later, these photographs indicate constants and change. Time is transformational. In 1996, the Gallery challenged the photographer to identify these locations and in 2019 we challenge the viewer to explore Toowoomba and surrounds in response to these works.


The exhibition is on show from 14 September to November 3, 2019.


A selection from the subjects presented in the exhibition

C. G. S. Hirst  The New Court House 1879 watercolour and ink on paper

Spowart+Cooper  The Old Court House 1996 silver gelatin fibre print


Herb Carstens   Sunday Morning (Street scene Toowoomba) 1961 oil on comp board

Spowart+Cooper  Sunday morning 1996 silver gelatin fibre print


Brian Williams Near Drayton 1960 oil on comp board

Spowart+Cooper  Near Drayton 1996 silver gelatin fibre print


Ruby Spowart Clifford Gardens 1986 photograph Polaroid SX-70

Ruby Spowart Clifford Gardens 1986 photograph Polaroid SX-70

Spowart+Cooper  Clifford Gardens 1996 silver gelatin fibre print



TRAG Display





LINK: SEEING DOUBLE Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery 2001




BOAT and BIRD – Craig R Cole + Alister Karl : MADE Creative Space

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Boat and Bird invite

A tale of two types of gallery exhibition

The gallery, the artist, the exhibition and the audience have been around for a couple of hundred years where a common expectation is that the exhibition operates as a vehicle for the selling of art. There is a commercial reality that ‘selling’ art funds the process of art-making, on the part of the artist – and staying in business and generating income through commission, for the gallerist. There has always been an anathema or disinterest in the making of art as commodity against the creative free place that artists see themselves in a community.

In the 1960s, artists rebelled against the commercial gallery structure by making art in the landscape (land artists like Robert Smithson) or making ephemeral conceptual works (Fluxus), which were not the saleable commodity like the painting in the frame. Later, performance art and video artists created art that was often unpalatable to the art purchasing (investor) clientele by the nature of both the content and the medium itself. Artists want to just do their own thing but can art exist outside the mercantile frame? And were does fit within the contemporary artists’ community?

An exhibition by Craig R. Cole and Alister Karl in Toowoomba’s MADE creative space may serve to provide some insights. Entitled Boat and Bird the exhibition is a collaboration project by the two artists that features subject content as defined by the title – boats and birds. The two artists have a creative friendship that goes back over 14 years and for much of this time they claim the subjects of boat and birds have permeated their relationship.

The MADE space is multi-roomed, with wooden floor and black and white walls and the two artists have drawn, affixed and assembled found and collected objects. There is no catalogue, no erudite didactic panels, no pretence (or perhaps – all pretence) and no ‘in your face’ message the viewer to be burdened by. Drawings are fixed to the wall, and in some cases, they have been allowed to leap from the paper onto and into the gallery wall itself. A collection of delicate feathers appears to have settled on one part of the gallery wall where its embryonic bird shape morphs into a boat sail. In a mini installation space around 20-feathered shuttlecocks sail through the air before a framed print of the game being played.

Some collaborative boat works utilise nautical themed things rescued from junk shops and car boot sales. In the context of gallery these objects take on new meanings by the interaction of the viewer. Juxtaposed in the gallery space are boat models, a photo jig-saw, consisting of a harbour full of boats, is presented as a DIY for viewers to attempt to assemble, and a set of coded nautical message flags is presented for deciphering.

In one corner a collaborative piece consisting of things like ship models a bird covered cuckoo clock, a metre or two of fishing net, steel mesh, a pair of crutches and ancient surveyors strings and ropes. The collaged objects seemed sometimes bird-like and yet at other times maybe even boatish.

In viewing the works one may take clues and cues from the art works and then connect them with personal lived experience. Sometimes there is a moment of instant delight at discovering a hidden joke or glib message. Other times there is and enjoyment of the beauty of the simple line and outline or the whimsy of the extension of the artwork into the space.

The exhibition Boat and Bird presents art at its best – free, fresh and fun with enough take away visual memories to stir further thought and reflection. Here perhaps is the ‘other’ form of the exhibition, the hors commerce one. Perhaps this form is where the true he(art) is.


Is it a boat? or Is it a bird? A collaborative installation by Cole + Karl

Birds drawing: Cole + Karl

Feathers morphing into a sail: Cole + Karl

"Float on": Cole + Karl

Boat harbor jig-saw: Cole + Karl

Birds escape from page

Alister Karl @ opening of Boat and Bird

Craig explains the viewing alignment of boat and painting

Craig's photo of boat and painting

Craig R Cole and the author Doug R Spowart

29 October: Hannah Roche “Unknown Pleasures” exhibition opening

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I attended Hannah’s photographic exhibition opening on the 29th.

Hannah Roche @ her exhibition

“Unknown Pleasures”

Curator Daniel Elborne, Saturday, October 29 · 6:00pm – 9:00pm

RAYGUN GALLERY, 29 Annand Street, Toowoomba


The images of Hannah Roche are poetic quotations – some enigmatic – some idiosyncratic while others are romantic – des souvenirs de voyages. This show, curated by Daniel Elborne, contained images that were chosen to evoke in the viewer the uncanny within the mundane moments of daily life and to “establish meaning in the hiddenness of the everyday world”.[1]

These images come from a much larger body of experimental work by Hannah as she explores the medium of photography in its contemporary manifestations. Photography has always had an identity crisis as a representational medium and a carrier of messages. This critique has only intensified in the digital medium where the photograph refers to itself and its history and is no longer object but concept. This current condition of the photograph appears not to reduce its possibilities, but rather, for Hannah and other contemporary photographers, it opens up a vast new visual language.

Victoria Cooper (words + images)

[1] From the catalogue for the show, Unknown Pleasures, see http://raygunlab.com/2011/10/25/unknown-pleasures-opens-saturday-one-night-only/

Written by Cooper+Spowart

November 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm

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