Shelter is a place where the human body can be more comfortable in its environment. Sheltering is not the same as dwelling. People living in pre-agricultural worlds – nomads, hunter-gatherers, created modes of shelter which were effective and disposable. I have photographed many shelters and dwellings in remote places over the years. But it is hard to locate these images – packed away in boxes, many lost. None of them were digital of course. So I have included here photographs from public or commons collections similar to those I was able to take while travelling and “in the field” in my former life.
Aboriginal “wiltjas” created from tree branches and spinifex made wonderfully adaptable shelters. They could be demolished and rebuilt at a moment’s notice, abandoned, burnt down after someone died, recreated in another place. They offered shelter, not dwelling. Dwelling took place in the land, in the environment itself.
Modern societies misunderstand both sheltering and dwelling. Real estate, private property and the bureaucratization of space have destroyed their real meaning.
I love looking at how people living in Australia in former times built everything from simple domestic shelters to grand public buildings. Photographs here reflect my fascination with these structures and the places they occupied in collective history. Vernacular buildings especially those made of corrugated iron and bush timber are especially beguiling. All of the following are my own photographs.
But I also love to photograph elegant and beautiful Australian buildings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Since living in the Blue Mountains I have been fascinated by the variety of architectural styles in this small area. The Carrington Hotel (below) offers great visual pleasure on account of the glass, lighting and symmetrical elements in construction and decoration.
Out in the countryside there are are many other fascinating vernacular Australian buildings. There are some wonderful examples in Broken Hill, where my daughter and I went recently. I photographed mainly the empty landscapes and am planning to paint a series based on them, but a few images from the town belong here as well.
Hotels and shops are among the most important public buildings in rural and regional Australia. So many are abandoned now, as rural towns shrink and fade into ghost towns all over the countryside.
Pubs are often the last men standing. I loved the shape and form, and stonework, on the only pub in Capertee.