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