The 1990’s: turning to colour

I’ve started working on the Bowden Archives book, though in a casual way as I’m slowly easing myself into an earlier draft of the book. The current work so far has primarily been picking up the old texts, starting to rework them into some sort of rough shape, and flicking through my archives.

A initial draft of the Preface has been written, as has an early draft of the text for the first section, which consists of street photography images. In the 70s and 80s I was using a Leica M-4 with black and white film as my main walkabout camera, and the text for this section is on, and briefly about, a snapshot culture. I have basically re-defined the street photography that I did as snapshots, or as photos belonging to the snapshot culture.

The third section of the book is tentatively titled ‘road trips’. It will be thinner than the other two sections, but it will point towards my future photography in the first decade of the 21st century. At this stage I have no idea what kind of text I am going to write for this part of the book.

Wetlands, Kangaroo Island, SA 1995

By the 1990s I no longer had a wet darkroom and I was busy finishing my PhD in philosophy at Flinders University of South Australia. Photography was on the back burner and the photography that I did in the 1990s was basically done whilst Suzanne and I went on various holidays and road trips. The above photos was on one trip to Kangaroo Island, which I’d never been to.

Hallett Cove, Adelaide

This picture from the 1980s archives represents a change in the way that I had been  photographing. It signifies a shift from the street photography and landscapes I had been doing  previously to a more  topographics style of photography:

Hallett Cove, Adelaide

It was a slow shift, as I was pretty much working blind. At this stage I  was more or less  trying to find suitable subject matter to photograph  with   the  5×7 Cambo view camera.  I was slowly finding my feet photographing Adelaide as a place, and   I didn’t really know what I was doing in terms of a topographic photography of altered landscapes  in Adelaide. Continue reading

Salt Creek, Coorong

This picture of a  melaleuca in the morning light was made on an early trip to the Coorong in South Australia  in the late 1990s.  We stayed at some cottages at a property called Gemini  Downs, which was  just north of  Salt Creek.  I remember that  it was very  cold at night and  that the heating in the cabin was minimal.

Melaleuca, Coorong

This was an edgeland around Salt Creek and  it was just outside the Coorong National Park. It used by fishermen to access the water, and from memory,  there was a fishermans’ hut nearby. Continue reading

starting over again

This was one the first colour photographs that I made after my return to photography in the 1990s.  I had stopped making  photos  whilst I was doing my PhD in philosophy at Flinders University  of South Australia. I started the doctorate in the late 1980s and finished the PhD around 1998,  then   started to work as an academic on a casual basis.   During the 1990s Suzanne, Fichte and  I would sometimes  go down to Victor Harbor on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula coast on the weekends to stay with Suzanne’s  mother (Majorie Heath) at her place in Solway Crescent.

This photos  is  representation of the granite coast  west of Petrel Cove and east of Dep’s Beach at Victor Harbor.   It was made with my Linhof Technika 70   using  a  6×7 film back.  This  modest and intermittent photographic restart would have been around the mid 199os before  Majorie Heath died in 1997.

sea + granite, Petrel Cove

I had put  all my large format cameras in a cupboard, stopped using black and white film for medium format, and only used b+w for 35m until I lost the Leica M4.    I was inching back to photography  using the  old Linhof, a camera, which  I am still using over 20 years latter. I was impressed by the coast, thought that it was an interesting  location, and a good spot to pick up the pieces and make a modest return to  photography.    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.

house, Encounter Bay

When I was living in Adelaide I would occasionally  travel  to Victor Harbor  for day trips in the Kombi.  I didn’t know that much about the Fleurieu Peninsula. I had heard that lots of people who grew top in Adelaide used to have their summer holidays on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The temperatures on this coast were lower than in Adelaide during the summer.

An archival photo of a house in Tabernacle Road,  Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor in  South Australia:

Tabernacle Rd,  Encounter Bay

These were only occasional cursory trips as I  didn’t find the township attractive or inviting. It was a small,   commercial centre for agriculture and day tourists. It became  quiet ugly during the peak tourist season.

 

sand dunes

The beach is more than a space for people to walk, sunbath and swim. It has a past and a future  and this indicates  that  the sand dunes and the fragile dune  vegetation are in  need different forms of coastal protection and management.   Hence the use of both sand-drift fencing to help restore and protect dune systems from erosion, by trapping wind-blown sand in the vicinity of the fence where natural vegetation is not sufficient to do so effectively, and various  revegetation and restoration projects.

sand dunes, Adelaide
sand dunes, coastal Adelaide

Beaches have a history and for Adelaide’s coastal beaches this history  is one of coastal degradation.

Prior to European settlement, the beaches were naturally replenished from the dunes and the southern beaches,  and therefore sand movement could continue almost indefinitely. Predominant wave energy hitting beaches from the southwest naturally shifted sand in a northerly direction along the coastline with most of the sand accumulating at Semaphore and North Haven. Development along our coast however, has resulted in large quantities of the sand supply either being ‘locked up’ (eg., ate the harbours at Glenelg and West Beach) or removed from the beach system, preventing natural replenishment.  As a result, natural processes and coastal storms have continually eroded beach width, and without artificial replenishment, the sand will continue to erode away, exposing the underlying hard rocks and clays. Continue reading

Glenelg’s piazza

As Adelaide was in the process of becoming a post-industrial city haunted by the decline of its manufacturing industry and growing working-class disaffection its  only  genuine gathering place–or piazza—  for people  was  the beach side suburb of Glenelg. It was a place where people  accepted their differences to enjoy their leisure with  picnics,  bathing  and walking in the sun.

Glenelg, Adelaide
Cruising Glenelg

The tram route from Victoria Square to Moseley Square in Glenelg was all that remained of Adelaide’s tramways network. This  had been pulled up to make way for the  motorcar. The tram  was basically  for tourists.  During the summer the  tram was packed with people going to and from  the beach for  a  day’s outing. I would often catch it  to Glenelg in the afternoon to hang out on the piazza with my cameras. Continue reading

Past futures: the beach

Past Futures is the working title for the third section of The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia. This section maps the space outside of Adelaide’s CBD and Bowden-Brompton. It represents an escape from the confines of  the city, sometimes in  the form of  day trips to the Adelaide Hills and Mt Lofty Ranges; trips to Melbourne and along the River Murray.

Escaping the confines of Bowden  during the summer heat was necessary and I would often go to Adelaide’s coastal beaches in the late afternoon. I would usually park the Kombi at  Largs Bay in the late afternoon and walk along the flat open stretch of sand to North Haven and back with Fichte, my standard poodle.

couple, Larg's Bay
couple, Largs Bay

This was a time when people sunbathed  on the beach and they didn’t really worry about effective sunscreen to prevent melanomas and skin cancer, even though the Slip, Slop, Slap!  health campaign was launched in 1981 by the Cancer Council as part of its SunSmart campaign.    The beach was a hedonistic holiday zone–a shared space of relaxation–with minimal shade from the burning sun.
Continue reading

seascapes + memory

As I go through my black and white archives  from the 1980s for The Bowden Archives and Other Marginala book   I am starting to come across  some seascape images that I cannot recall making.   Nor can I recall their location,   the camera that I used, or even when they were made. Since my personal memory is unreliable my memory of these past events is going to have to be constructed.

The negatives had been stored  away in an old, red  filing cabinet  with no information other than a tab that  just says ‘Landscape Studies’.  An example:

coastal rocks
coastal rocks, Petrel Cove

Many of the pictures in  the Landscape Studies  file were done whilst I was on the road.  My best guess is that these kind of seascape images are different,  in that they were probably made along the southern  coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, even though I don’t immediately recognise these rocks. But I have no memory of making them. I haven’t looked at the negatives or the contact since these were processed  and printed. I cannot even recall who processed the negatives or printed the contact sheets. Was it me or a commercial laboratory?

In 2016 I  am reading these photographs  differently,  and the reason that I was  drawn to this location becomes irrelevant. It now becomes an interpretation of an image, influenced by a contextual memory of  the situation.  The boundaries become blurry as we step into the realm of fiction.

Continue reading