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 have mistaken the meaning of both sheltering and dwelling. Real estate, private property and the bureaucratization of space have destroyed their real meaning.
What is often called “the built environment” includes all the ways people have tried to shelter themselves. I love looking at how early people living in simple ways built their shelters. 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.
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.