The Adelaide Photography 1970-2000 book begins

Today I  started work in a rather  low key way on the Adelaide Photography 1970-2000 book that  Adam Dutkiewicz and I will   work on  together after he finishes Volume 2 of A Visual History: the Royal South Australian Society of Arts 1856-2016.  The  Adelaide Photography book is to be published by  Moon Arrow Press, and   hopefully, if all goes well with the contributions from the Adelaide art photographers in this period   it will be published in late 2018. The book builds  on the Abstract Photography: Re-evaluating Visual Poetics in Australian Modernism and Contemporary Practice book that Adam and I published  in 2016.

Low key here means that I contacted several  people to see if they were interested in their work  being a part of the project;  and secondly, I  have started to read some tough going texts on aesthetics  that I’d  borrowed from the Flinders University of South Australia’s Library to help me  write an  essay on the aesthetics  of art photography for the book. The  questions I am addressing in the essay are: ‘what are  the aesthetic underpinnings for an autonomous  art photography after  it  has been accepted and incorporated into the  art institution? Secondly, if art is a form of rationality as  is assumed, then how does art’s rationality differ from the rationality of the natural sciences and economic rationality?

Adelaide plains

As well as the aesthetics essay there will be an art historical essay about the photography of this period. The centre of the book  is the portfolios of (approximately) 12 photographers which each photographer has about 4-6 pages for their pictures  including  an artist statement about their work.

Robert McFarlane has agreed to contribute to the book,  and his work  makes  an  ideal  start  to the book’s  portfolio section. In an essay written for Robert McFarlane’s Received Moments: Photography  1961-2009 (circa 2009) travelling exhibition Gael Newton addressed one of the many gaps in her influential historical survey, Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988, which was published in 1988. She says that McFarlane was:

a significant member of the somewhat neglected generation of Australian photographers whose careers began in the late fifties and early sixties. They slip between pre-war modernists and pioneer photojournalists like David Moore, and the ‘baby boomer’ personal documentary photographers of the 1970s who claimed photography as their medium and dismissed photographers of the recent past. The young photographers of the seventies – mostly using modern 35mm reflex cameras – redefined documentary photography as a subjective form of witness. Their preference was to show their work in books and art exhibitions rather than in mass market picture magazines.

In a footnote Newton mentioned that this “neglected group includes classic landscape photographers: John Cato (Melbourne), Richard Woldendorp (Perth), Wesley Stacey (all over Australia) and architecture and topographical artists John Gollings (Melbourne and Asia), and Richard Stringer (Queensland). The group includes documentary photographers Jeff Carter (South Coast, New South Wales) and John Williams (Tasmania). ”

It is good to see the acknowledgment  of topographical photography. It’s recognition in the Australian  art institution is long overdue.   Continue reading

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from street to topographic photography

In looking over the non-Bowden  1980’s  photographic archives  for the proposed book on Adelaide photography  I realised that I was in the process of making  a shift  from  the then  fashionable  street  style photography of the 1970s to  a more topographic approach. Fashionable in the sense that New York in the 1960s was the centre of  photography with  Winogrand, Friedlander and Meyerowitz  laying down  the classic grooves for street photography.

This is an example of the street  photography  in Adelaide’s CBD that was made from a public space in the 1980s:

Franklin St, Adelaide

Street photography  is   candid photography –in this case it is a photo  of an office worker walking west along Franklin St after  leaving  the office in the late afternoon. This was  during an Adelaide  summer and it was a time  when white socks and sandals were the  summer fashion for men.  This fashion was much more practical in 40 degrees heat  than the traditional tie and suit.

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

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.

 

greening Bowden

The suburbs west of the city of Adelaide and the parklands, such as Hindmarsh and Bowden,   were earmarked as industrial areas prior to 1945 because they  were  in the vicinity of the road and rail links between Adelaide’s CBD and Port Adelaide. The industrial origins in the 19th century lay in the small cottage industries supported by both residential and industrial expansion.  More noxious industries moved into the area  in the early 20th century and the wealthier residents began to move out.

Though it was still a residential area,  with many  post 1945  European migrants  (Greek, Italian, Yugoslav) being attracted to the area because  of the low cost of housing,  industry expansion quickened  after the 1940s.By the 1980s the official view of  Bowden-Brompton was that these suburbs were  old industrial areas and that industry expansion was premised on purchasing adjoining residential property.

These properties were seen as being on congested sites, to be outworn and obsolete,  as having reached the end of  their economic and useful life,  and  that their low property values encouraged the intrusion of factories and businesses. The substandard  housing was only worthy of demolition. The depressing character of sub-standard dwellings combined with noise, odours, dirt, smoke pollution and heavy traffic meant that  Bowden was defined as a Adelaide’s slum. Slum meant an incidence of disease and delinquency.

The concerns of the  people who lived in the slum  for  better living conditions for themselves could be ignored.

Gibson St, Bowden

Gibson St, Bowden

Even though there was limited room for industrial expansion in Bowden, and  industry was moving to Adelaide’s northern and north western suburbs,  the  old Hindmarsh Council, which had been captured by industry, had little  interest in greening the suburb, the quality of the environment  or  urban renewal. The state government had no conception of urban infill with higher density housing.     Continue reading

old Bowden, Adelaide

This  image was made whilst I was working on the 1980s  Bowden series.

The image highlights the industrial nature of this inner suburb,  before its urban renewal and gentrification in the Ist decade of the 21st century.  Bowden has been greened up, and infilled  with higher density housing,  and is now Bowden Village.

factory,  Bowden, Adelaide

factory, Bowden, Adelaide

The earthy and gritty character of the older industrial Bowden of the 20th century has gone.

edgeland

Another archival image from the incompleted Port Adelaide  project.

The image of an edgeland is looking across an urbanscape that was routinely dismissed as swampland to the Adelaide hills from the Grand Trunkway. This  runs to Garden Island and the Torrens Power Station.  This  edgeland at Gillman was earmarked for a high tech industrial expansion around Port Adelaide that never really happened.

Edgeland, Port Adelaide

Edgeland, Port Adelaide

The degraded urban environment at Gilman was the chosen site for the proposed  Multi Function Polis (MFP)—a Japanese proposal for a futuristic high tech city—in the 1980s. Australia at the time had an inward looking and inefficient manufacturing sector, an over reliance on an uncertain commodity market and was seeking international investment to help modernise its economy.

 MFP Australia could be perceived as an extension of Japanese domestic development initiatives to target high tech industries with a Technopolis program to establish a series of high tech cities into the international arena with a new urban centre of 30,000 to 50,000 expected to be created near an established Australian city where urban infrastructure was available. Continue reading