Shapes and shadows, reflections, shining light, dappled skies. Red and yellow cliffs, glittering brightness under a summer sun, a monochrome mirror on a fading winter day. First impressions of the world came to me from the Hawkesbury River as my father steered the old inboard motorboat Quiet Life upstream from Brooklyn, put-putting along through the deep green water, sometimes rough and choppy, grey with sky. The desire to capture and re-visit this ancient landscape has never left me. Photography, writing and painting have engaged me in nostalgia for preservation and continuity.
The lower Hawkesbury is an amazing place. Just a little over an hour from Sydney, here are isolated communities with roots in the nineteenth century, with no roads, no supplied water, no town facilities. Each community has its own rhythms and rules. Some have their own identities and flags with mottos, and know themselves, ironically, as democratic republics. The nearest police presence is at Hornsby and Gosford. Most houses are only known by the name of their wharf or jetty: there are no streets, and no house numbers. These communities must look after their own laws and help each other survive through bushfires, floods and occasional outbursts of wild behaviour.
You can never take enough photographs on the river. I have taken photographs of the same outlook, through the changing seasons, year after year, for as long as I can remember. I have collected old photographs of my family and preserved copies of them, although all the original negatives are long gone and many of the people in them are no longer remembered. They appear on another page on this site.
The photograph is not only an image reproducible through modern technology but a key element in the way contemporary humans experience the world, a world we have created through manipulation of images. “Nature”, whether it exists or not in a philosophical sense, is constantly present to view but is overwhelming in its totality. The camera allows us to create a different kind of seeing, framed through the view-finder. Every photographic style has its own glories. I love old-fashioned black and white photographs printed on heavy paper but the quick snap on the I-Phone has its pleasures and place. As the quality of cameras in mobiles improves, they are becoming increasingly integrated into the photographic language. Sites like Flickr and Instagram allow images and lives to be shared in ways unimaginable just a few short years ago.
Photography and painting for me are deeply entwined. There is a lot of debate in fine art circles about the use of photographs as the basis for paintings. Most painters today take it for granted that their photographs will translate readily into paintings. Then again, the greatest German painter of our age, Gerhard Richter, created paintings to look as much as possible like photographs. The philosophical issues behind the photography/painting intersection is something I have been thinking about recently. I have written a little about Richter on my art-writing site here. A number of projects overlap and may turn up on both sites.
If the Hawkesbury River is the origin-place of my photographs, there are many others taken from journeys over the years in Australia and around the world. This site is a place to develop ideas about my photographic histories and play with ideas.
I am working on creating a portfolio on Flickr (in preparation)
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