The Bowden Archives: a draft

Thanks to the  generous help  of my friends, Judith Crispin, Stuart Murdoch, Paul Atkins at Atkins Photo Lab and Adam Dutkiewicz at Moon Arrow Press  I now have a first draft of the Bowden Archives: Memory,  Text,  Place. The pictures have  a narrative of their own now and some sort of coherence. That was something I could not do on my own, as I was too close to the pictures.

Warehouse, Bowden

The next step for me is to  follow Adam’s advice and do a dummy book  using  BookWright,  Blurb’s free desktop software, in order  to see what  the draft with images and text looks like as a book— as opposed to an idea in my head, or Stuart’s step—   rough prints on sheets of folded up paper to have an tactile object in my hand as opposed to images on a computer screen.   Continue reading

still life

I had a rudimentary studio setup whilst I was living and photographing in Bowden in the 1980s. There was a a table, a dark cloth as  a background,  available window light,  a 5×7 Cambo monorail,  the odd prop,  and a solid Linhof tripod.

However,  I didn’t do much with the setup. I made a  few portraits  and some still lives,  such as this one of a  banksia, which  I’d  purchased at the Adelaide Central Market and then a lowed to dry:

banksia still life

The results were okay,  and  I realised that I could do the studio stuff, even though the studio situation wasn’t ideal.  The available window light was minimal,  the exposures for the 5×7 Cambo monorail where very  long (several hours), and  the house shook if a truck went past on Gibson Street.  So  I’d have to start the photo shoot again.  It was all too difficult really.  Continue reading

rock abstract

The Bowden Archives section of the photographic  archive has been sorted and edited into a book, which is  to  be published in 2018.  It consists of  50 images and two essays. I will now concentrate on other images from the archives:

In a previous post I mentioned that I would go to Victor Harbor occasionally.  Suzanne, my partner’s mother lived at Victor Harbor and we started to go and stay there on the odd weekend. Whilst staying there  I would walk around the rocky foreshore west ofd Petrel Cove photographing the rock formations:

rock abstract, Petrel Cove

I used an old Linhof Technika 70 camera for these rock abstractions.

Bowden: the Kelly Dance

After talking to a prospective publisher, the title of the manuscript  has been changed from Bowden Archives and other Marginalia to The Bowden Archives.  This  cut  down means that the book will be about Bowden as  the non-Bowden images–eg., the coastal beaches, Port Adelaide, Adelaide hills  etc– have now been pruned from the draft manuscript. They have been shifted to the historical section of the proposed Adelaide book.

I have been going through and scanning the 35mm negatives in the archive.   The picture below  is from the Kelly Dance–an evening of jigs and reels —  that was put on by  The Bush Dance Theatre:

boy at Kelly Dance

boy at Kelly Dance

This evening was sometimes in the 1980s. Unfortunately,  I cannot recall where the musical evening  was held or when.   Continue reading

Port Adelaide estuary

A talk with  a publisher about the material in the Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia becoming a book, it  was suggested that the proposed book would work  best as a book if it were  cut down to The Bowden Archives. The non-Bowden material will go to the Adelaide book, which has been on the back burner. The focus on Bowden tightens the manuscript,  which was starting to become unwieldy, and the simplification   makes the focus of The Bowden Archives more centred around history and place. I have spent the last week going through the 35mm negatives  of Bowden, and scanning the  best of them.

An example of the pictures in the initial  historical section  of the Adelaide book would be these two pictures of the Port River estuary in this post. The first picture of the mangroves are a reminder  that Port Adelaide  in the early 19th century was once basically a mangrove swamp and marsh surrounding the Port River.   Tides and drainage would continue to be major issues for residents until the first half of the 20th century.

mangroves, Port Adelaide

mangroves, Port Adelaide

The embankments along the river formed a basin within which the early residents worked and lived, but not without some fear. While the embankment kept the River at bay most of the time, the banks could be breached by a high tide. The basin shape meant that any water, even rain, pooled in the town with no drainage outlets.

Continue reading

Cottages, Port Adelaide

The working class cottages  are an  interesting historical aspect of Port Adelaide was the working class cottages. They helped to both give  the Port its working class character,  and  to open a space where one is able to  see an  architectural history that reached backed to the early 20th century, if not the second part of the 19th century. The latter period was when the facilities of the Port were used to export and import supplies for colonial South Australia’s main industries–wheat, wool and mining.

cottage, Port Adelaide

cottage, Port Adelaide

Due to the lack of re-development Port Adelaide was  an historic precinct with  an impressive range of commercial and institutional buildings.   Many  of these have survived, resulting in Port Adelaide having one of the best concentrations of colonial buildings in South Australia. Continue reading

at Port Adelaide

One of the places that I used to visit and photograph was Port Adelaide and along the Port River estuary.   I was initially attracted to the architecture of the  industrial and commercial sites along and nearby the polluted Port River, as these signified the drivers of  modernity in South Australia. Both sides of the  Port Adelaide River  had been zoned   as  sites for  industrial expansion and the industry that was there used the river  as a drain.   In the 1980s large sections along the banks of the river were empty sites,  and they were, to all intents and purposes,  edge lands. These, however,  were not  empty urban landscapes evacuated of people.

silos + Holden, Port Adelaide

silos + Holden, Port Adelaide

Living in the suburbs, driving a Holden with free time at Port Adelaide for play is what  the historical experience of  being modern was in Adelaide. Those who were making  the cars, the washing machines and the TV sets could also buy them.

Photography, if you like,  was where art and the categories of  everyday life met. This stood in marked contrast to the avant-garde at the Experimental Art Foundation, which along with the major art institutions and the practitioners of a post modernist staged and fictive modes of photography  associated photography with a simplified and enfeebled realm of an outmoded pictorial style and a naive account of representation.

On their account realism, with its facile assumptions  of visual transparency and deceptive form of  natural representation  equated realism with positivism’s view that the pictures of the world are in some uncomplicated sense  reflections of the world.  Realism was deemed to be out of date and second rate—  it belonged to a dingy corner of a dusty Victorian cupboard—- rather than realism being viewed  as a process of critical recovery  and historical remembrance.  Continue reading