After sitting the final day of my Australian Abstractions exhibition at the Light Gallery I drove down to Port Adelaide to see some of the local SALA exhibitions before they finished. They cafe’s were closed, so Ari and I wandered around the place. It had been a while since we’d done that.
I took a few snaps in, and around, some of my favourite haunts:
Photographing the Port was going to be a central project for me several years ago, but it kinda faded away for some reason. It was where I started my large format work in black and white in the 1980s when I had a studio at Bowden, and I returned to when I picked up my large format photography again 30 years latter. But the momentum died as I slowly lost interest. Continue reading “revisiting Port Adelaide”
I’ve started to include the western part of the city in our daily walks when I am in Adelaide.
It’s an area that is undergoing change due to the student living connected to the western campus of the University of South Australia, the state Labor government’s investment in a new public hospital and medical research facilities, and the new tramline along North Terrace to the Entertainment Centre. Is an old Adelaide disappearing, as a new cityscape emerges? A vision of a more vital Adelaide.
The real estate agents are talking of a boom. It’s early days. The empty lots, warehouses and workshops are going to be replaced by new housing developments. What sort? High rise? Medium rise? Will there be any concern for the street life? Will new cafe’s and bars spring up?
Ari and I wandered around Bowden late this afternoon.
I’d gone there to check out Fontanelle, as I understood that there was a darkroom there and workshops on alternative technologies, processing and printing called The Analogue Lab. I was looking for a darkroom in Adelaide to develop my 8×10 black and white sheet film. I presumed that this photographic facility is run in association with the Fontanelle Gallery and Studio in Bowden. Everything was closed.
So Ari and I went walking around the streets. I took a few snaps. This picture of industrial forms (Conroys Smallgoods) was in Sixth Street, just down the road from Fontanelle before the Drayton Street corner. I used to work at Conroys when studying at Flinders University and the money I earned there enabled me to set myself up with different types of large format cameras.
Bowden was located close to the city, park lands and the train line and it is where I used to live and work in the 1980s. I had a photographic studio and darkroom in Gibson St near Seventh St, and I used to walk around the area and photograph it with medium and large format cameras. I also spent a lot of time walking in the western parklands with Fichte, my standard poodle.
Though I’d develop the film myself, I was never much good at printing (ie., producing a fine print), so I never exhibited the work about Bowden as a place. I just built up an archive of negatives in a filing cabinet. I’ve started to revisit and to digitalize.
After having a look at an exhibition at the A.P Bond Gallery in Stepney I wandered around a bit taking a few photos. It highlighted to me that the intrinsic qualities of the picture was less important than the act of naming it as a work of art and getting the legitimating institutions–museums, galleries, collectors, historians of art etc —to accept the picture as art. What still haunts the art institution is Duchamp naming readymades such as a bottle rack or urinal as a work of art that should be in an art gallery.
I’m not sure where that leaves photography once both the copy theory of representation and an aesthetic canon of conventional forms has been rejected. Are photos functioning to re-enchant the world? They are becoming a sort of magic realism, fetishes or animated objects? A memento mori—ie., a mark of the inevitable passing of time?
It was a frosty morning and the light on the salt fields around 8.30am was bright and clear. Perfect conditions. I’d gone back to take some pictures with the 5×4 Linhof that I’d scoped on the earlier trip:
I wasn’t happy with the pictures of the salt crystallisation ponds I took with the Linhof. I need to be there earlier in the morning. So I’ll go back tomorrow and have another go around the time the sun lightens up the salt mounds.
I’ve decided to change my work flow for colour film photography.The old work flow wasn’t really working for me.
Instead of building up six to nine months work and then having it processed at a professional laboratory in one hit, I’ve decided to have the 35mm and 6×6 film processed on the day of the shoot. I can drop it off to Photoco’s one hour minilab in the Central Market on the way back from the shoot. The sheet film can be processed at the professional lab—Atkins Technicolour.
My reason is that it is cheaper, more convenient and I can quickly assess what I’m doing in terms of feedback. I did a dummy run on Friday to see how things would turn out:
42 West Coast miners died from a fire in the underground timber pump station/house.The fire damaged the shafts, and the smoke ad poisonous fumes mean that the miners at the lower levels were trapped. It was the largest mining tragedy in Australia’s history. It is now being remembered
The rephotography project is being run by the Queenstown Library. It is centred around community involvement in a Now + Then style project that has been structured along the lines of the one run by the ABC.
How the ‘Now and Then’ is done is open to interpretation. Some possibilities mentioned are: there could be two images side by side; one old n picture superimposed on the other; or an old photograph held in the hand and photographed in the landscape of today.
The rains eventually eased in Queenstown and I was able to access the top of the open cut Lyell mine early Sunday morning. There were the usual showers and mist but these cleared and I was able to get some 5×4 pictures before the cloud cover disappeared.
I’ve decided to return to Queenstown in mid-May and take part in the Queenstown library’s re-photography project. It is the only way that I will be able to gain official access to photograph the open cut with the 5×4 Linhof as the mine is closed to the public apart from the 2 hour tour of the disused open cut mine.
I had a go at finding the sites used by Frank Hurley for his photographs of the Queenstown landscape and Mt Lyell mine out of interest. But I was way out. I just don’t know the area. Only a local with a keen topographical eye and a knowledge of the access roads could find the old sites now in order to show some continuity between the old and new images.
Yesterday was overcast and windy, and as the weather was going to be consistent rain squalls for the next few days, I decided go to the old Mt Lyell open cut copper mine in Queenstown. The only way to do it was to take the morning trip with John Halton’s Enviro mine tour. It was the right decision as it rained all of today.