Back Stories

Every quarter I write a piece for the APS Focus page in Australian Photography magazine. This is my latest piece, published in the June 2018 issue now in newsagencies.

As published: EPSON MFP image

How well a photograph tells a story is something many of us look for in our own imagery and in other images that we view. Those of you who subject your images to critique by judges will often have heard them speak about the story it tells them. At my local photographic society a few nights ago, the judge told us he thought an image was powerfully showing the pain of a woman with cancer wondering whether she would survive to see the child her daughter was carrying. I have no idea whether his interpretation was correct, but it resonated with me.

In recent times I have begun exploring the stories behind some of the places that I photograph. For example, near to my home in a new suburb there is a hill that, when climbed, provides great views of the surrounding area – especially at sunset. They used to do hang gliding from the top. I recall seeing them often as I drove past.

Near the lower end of the path to the hilltop, there is a playground enjoyed by many neighbourhood children and their parents. Some elements of the playground are very useful for framing images of the hill. Others make interesting subjects in themselves because of their vibrant colours and angular shapes. Of course, images of your children or grandchildren enjoying the play equipment can also be captured.

As I make your way up the hill, camera in hand, I pass by four installed large rocks into which have been set the verses of Henry Lawson’s poem, Rain in the Mountains. Depending on the weather and time of day when I go for a walk, I can photograph images on and around the hill reflecting phrases in that poem. Misty cloud. Frowning mountains. Leaden grey sky. Night coming early. Rain passing. Golden afternoons.

Towards the top of the hill is a lone tree which makes a great focal point for images against the changing cloudscapes and moods of the sky. At the very top of the hill is a historic trig station as well as recently installed features, pointing to the various high points in the surrounding landscape and providing artworks for contemplation.

From the slopes of the hill you can see an historic building in the surrounding paddocks that have not yet been developed with townhouses and apartments. In the right late light, the building glows golden.

Along the paths that go around the hill as well as up it, there are information boards providing knowledge regarding some of these things, such as the trig station. Others share information about something I have never seen and previously knew nothing about. For the parkland slopes of this hill are the habitat of the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth (GSM).

When I put together illustrated articles for my occasional blog, I seek to learn more about things that I have photographed. I search the Internet. Working on articles about the trig station and the hill in general, I got quite a surprise. A biologist and environmental consultant that I know, Alison Rowell, has undertaken monitoring of the GSM and its habitat in this area during the very short lifespan of the adult GSM. Sadly, I am most unlikely to ever photograph a GSM. Adults are only seen under suitable weather conditions during a few weeks in spring and early summer. The males fly low and rapidly over the grassland searching for the females, which sit in areas of short grass.

However, I have learned what I think of as the back stories – about the hill, the trig station, and the historic building in the paddock. Reservoir Hill was so named because it once was the site of a reservoir – no surprise there.

The trig station was part of the national network of triangulation pillars providing reference points for measuring distance and direction and assisting in the creation of maps. A trig point typically consists of a black disc on top of four metal legs or concrete pillar, resembling a navigation beacon. It is also accompanied by a metal disc, which is located directly below the centre point of the tripod or on top of the pillar itself. This one is no exception.

The building in the paddock was part of Bells – the most powerful naval wireless base in the British empire and the largest naval or commercial station in the southern hemisphere.

Members of the APS often tell stories about their images – such as when they are putting together a series of images for a Conceptual Art Portfolio Award, when they are posting on the Friends of APS Contemporary Group Facebook group, or when they are presenting a talk at the annual convention.

Reservoir Hill Trig Station - by Brian Rope

Reservoir Hill Trig Station

Late light on Reservoir Hill - by Brian Rope

Late Light on Reservoir Hill

 

Advertisements
Standard

Presentation About Contemporary Photography

Last week I gave a PowerPoint presentation to members of the Canberra Photographic Society about Contemporary Photography. I promised to make the contents of that presentation available online. Here they are.

  • It is a lot about today’s lifestyle and about knowing the reasons for our images and about conceptual photography
  • Series are about a number of works based on an idea but the works need to be contemporary not traditional
  • It is not about competition or honours. It is about challenging ourselves in our thinking and in our photography
  • It is where the artist/photographer has imbued their own personal expressions/feelings of the life around them and of their own life experiences, moods, feelings into an image or series of images

2016 Iris Award

Winner 2016 IRIS AWARD

First Impression © Chris Bowes

The IRIS Award is an international prize recognising new and outstanding portraiture in photographic art. The criteria for selection focuses on portraits that are unique, compelling and engaging whilst maintaining excellence in photography.

Is this a Contemporary image? Is it even a portrait? Undoubtedly, there would be various responses to those questions.

2017 Olive Cotton Award

2017 Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture

Maternal Line 2017 © Justine Varga

This image was created without a camera. Its selection caused a great deal of controversy which, in turn, generated a lot of discussion and debate – including amongst members of the friends of APS Contemporary Group Facebook group. I welcomed the discussion. Is it a Contemporary image? I believe it is.

2017 NPPP

2017 National Photographic Portrait Prize Winner

Portrait of Richard Morecroft and Alison Mackay © Gary Grealy

Is this a Contemporary approach to portrait photography? Or is it traditional?

2018 Scone Photographic Art Prize

Scone Photographic Art Prize Winner 2018 © Anne O’Connor

It has quite a lot of white space around it because it was printed square on Velin Rag paper within an A3 matte. A Contemporary image? Yes, in my view.

2018 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize

2018 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize Winner

Zach (standing in front of his friend’s home in “The Pines”

– an Australian town that sits on the fringes of society) © James Bugg

This competition requires entries to be Contemporary. So, clearly, this is considered Contemporary. I had no idea where “The Pines” was located. Dr Google suggested it was on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia. However, I’ve since learned that it is actually a precinct within the outer Melbourne suburb of Frankston North.

Horizons - Earth and Water

From the Photo Access exhibition “Horizons – Earth and Water” © Marie Lund

Created without a camera, generated by sunlight. When I was 9 years old I was creating images by sunlight – albeit by putting film negatives in contact with photographic paper in sunlight. In my view this image is very definitely Contemporary.

Faceless Self-Portraits

Earlier this year members of APS Contemporary Group invited to produce two dimensional self-portraits that did not include their face and submit them for exhibition. This arose following the debate mentioned earlier regarding the portrait winner of the Olive Cotton.

From the faceless self-portraits that I created I submitted three and am currently waiting to hear which (if any) the adjudicators will select. Here they are together with their accompanying artist statements.

Toyed tag

Toyed Tag

 Graffiti  artists  constantly  have  the  looming  threat  of  facing  consequences  for displaying  their  graffiti.  Many  choose  to  protect  their  identities  and  reputation  by remaining  anonymous. With  the  commercialization  of  graffiti,  in  most  cases,  even with  legally  painted  “graffiti”  art,  graffiti  artists  tend  to  choose  anonymity.  Being  a graphic  form  of  art,  it  might  also  be  said  that  many  graffiti  artists  still  fall  in  the category  of  the  introverted  archetypal  artist. So,  if  I  was  a  graffiti  artist (introverted  or not),  I  wondered  what  my  tag,  or  artwork, might  look  like.  I  came  up  with  this image to  represent  myself. It  incorporates  my  hand  plus  a  “word”  which  is  a  play  on  a nickname  I  had  in my  school  days. Acknowledging  that  I  am an  inexperienced graffiti artist  or  writer (a Toy),  the  piece  is crossed  out  with  the  word “toy”.

Love Carving

Love Carving

 Lovers sometimes carve their initials inside a heart shape on a tree, thus sharing something about themselves to all who later see their artwork. Rather than carving an actual tree, here I have superimposed my initials and those of my wife inside a heart shape on my image of a tree. The peeling bark and other changes in the tree’s surface since the “carving” was made have obliterated much of it, but those who know me will still read a little about me (and her) in the image.

My Road

My Road

A traditional portrait only shows what we look like at a moment in time when it was taken. An environmental portrait reveals more because it includes something of the environment in which we live or work. This composite image portrait seeks to show the viewer much more by featuring a selection of “waypoints” throughout my life from its starting point through to the present. Each “waypoint” is “attached” to a rope (reflecting my surname) and everything is overlaid on a photograph of a piece of road (representing my life journey). The viewer who studies the image will see places where I have lived, schools I have attended, people who have been a significant part of my life at various times, images revealing things that have been important to me, items that I have made and photographs of significance for me. The future journey is unknown – as in the past there may be unexpected paths to be followed. Viewers will, of course, have difficulty understanding the complete story behind some of the elements incorporated in the portrait, but will interpret it for themselves.

OK let’s look at some other individual shots of mine:

  The Shoes

Contemporary because of the bumper sticker and the “today” spare shoes decorations. (If the driver really is Gay, shouldn’t the spare shoes be in rainbow colours?)

 

Listening

Listening – who to? What is being said? Who else is part of the conversation? What is the relationship between these two and others speaking or listening? In other words, what is the story in this captured image?

 

Safe keeping

In safe keeping. The bottle of beer that is.

 

Back pocket

Contemporary because it shows today’s penchant for keeping phones in back pockets and also shows a little of what we consume? (And someone in the audience suggested it was also contemporary because it showed the current style of deliberately faded seats on the jeans.)

 

Isolated

Contemporary because it isolated an item and provides no real context?

 

Decay

Contemporary because it shows the decay of a section of the building but not the whole thing in context?

 

Popular culture

Contemporary because it shows how today’s people need to incorporate popular culture into everything?

 

Now let’s look at some series, again my images:

 

 From the series “Skies”

Five views of (essentially) the same section of the sky at different times and during differing weather conditions.

 

From the series “From Moving Vehicles”:

Moving 1

Moving 2

Moving 3

Moving 4

Moving 5

A short un-named series captured in a darkened room lying in bed:

Dark 1

What is there beyond the nearby pillow?

 

Dark 2

Sunlight penetrating above the curtains reveals little inside

but shouts that the outside is very bright.

 

Dark 3

Further into the room there are just glimpses where the sunlight catches the edges.

 

Dark 4

Below the curtains and under a closed door the light barely penetrates.

 

Dark 5

Between curtain drops little is revealed

other than a glimpse of familiar hanging souvenirs.

 

Dark 6

Through an open door the light beckons from another room

beyond the unused exercise bike.

 

From an un-named series taken as I walked out from the AIPP judging recently:

Marker 1

This and other arrows had been placed there obviously to show the way in but when I spotted them on my way out I thought I’d capture something of my journey out showing not only the arrows but also other “markers” along the way.

 

Marker 2

Mystery “markers”.

 

Marker 3

Don’t trip, then wipe your feet twice.

 

Marker 4

There’s a step to the left.

 

Marker 5

And steps going up.

 

Marker 6

Let the light show the way.

 

Marker 7

Going around in circles now.

 

Marker 8

Back that way.

 

Marker 9

Anyone for hopscotch?

 

Marker 10

Diamonds through that door.

 

Marker 11

It’s clearly this way.

 

 

Finally, some links for those who are interested:

Things to read and consider:

Monash Gallery of Art – Australian home of photography – https://www.mga.org.au/

Foto Relevance Deep Focus – Appreciation, History and a Place in Contemporary Photography – https://fotorelevance.com/deep-focus/

Pat Brassington: the body electric – One of Australia’s most influential contemporary photo-media artists – https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/media-office/pat-brassington/

Essay: The Art of Photography – https://writingcreativenonfiction.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/essay-the-art-of-photography/

Groups to join:

Friends of APS Contemporary Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1259990940713900/

and the Contemporary Group of APS itself –

https://www.a-p-s.org.au/

 

Standard

Reservoir Hill

Reservoir Hill is in the Canberra suburb of Lawson, where I live. It has quite a few features that make it worth a visit.

It has a trig point (more correctly known as a triangulation pillar). They were regarded as valuable to surveyors, providing reference points for measuring distance and direction, and assisting in the creation of maps. They can still be used for mapping and triangulation.

A trig point typically consists of a black disc on top of four metal legs or concrete pillar, resembling a navigation beacon. It is also accompanied by a metal disc, which is located directly below the centre point of the tripod or on top of the pillar itself.

Trig points are generally located at the top of hills or points of prominence in the landscape. Many provide unique views and challenges, with some being difficult to get to.

IMG_0543

The trig station silhouetted against the setting sun

This historic Reservoir Hill trig is easy to get to. It sits atop the hill in an area that has been reserved as parkland in the newish suburb. It is simply a matter of walking up the hill on a paved pathway that has been constructed as part of the parkland’s landscaping. Even better, it is possible to continue down and around the other side of the hill on the same pathway to your staring point, or to branch off and emerge at a different point.

Reservoir Hill trig station was part of the national network of triangulation pillars providing reference points for measuring distance and direction and assisting in the creation of maps.

IMG_0586

My own shadow on the path around the hill

The parkland is formally known as Lawson South Open Space. It is the habitat of the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth (GSM). I have discovered that a biologist and environmental consultant that I happen to know, Alison Rowell, has undertaken monitoring of the GSM and its habitat in this area during the very short lifespan of the adult GSM.

IMG_0575

A sign with information about the GSM life cycle

A fact sheet appended to a report by Alison tells the reader:

“The Golden Sun Moth is protected under Commonwealth legislation as a critically endangered species. It is a medium-sized moth that is active during the day. Its wing span is about 35 mm, and in flight the males appear dark brown or blackish, with a rapid wing beat. At rest the wings of the male appear dark bronzy brown with silvery lines. The female has forewings similar to the male, and also has bright orange-yellow hindwings that can be hidden or revealed by moving the forewings.

The larvae are present in the soil at all times, living underground for two or more years and feeding on the roots of particular grasses. Adults are only seen under suitable weather conditions during a few weeks in spring and early summer, when they emerge from the soil to mate and lay eggs. The reddish brown pupal case is left protruding from the soil after the adult emerges. During periods of warm sunny weather, the males fly low and rapidly over the grassland searching for the females, which sit in areas of short grass displaying their golden hind wings to attract the males. The females are not as easily seen as the males, as they tend to remain on the ground. Males usually turn back if they fly out of their habitat, but both males and females may rest on bare ground such as paths to bask in the sun.

The moth larvae live in the upper layer of the soil, and can be killed by disturbance or compaction of the soil, or any activity that damages the grasses on which they feed. This includes vehicle movements, chemical or fuel spills or changed drainage. Adults can be killed by trampling, vehicles or chemicals.”

Near the lower end of the path to the hilltop, there is a playground enjoyed by many neighbourhood children and their parents. Some elements of the playground are very useful for framing images of the hill. Others make interesting subjects in themselves because of their vibrant colours and angular shapes. Of course, images of your children or grandchildren enjoying the play equipment can also be captured.

Riley and Lawson 0060

Sails at the playground

IMG_0677

Sunset behind the lone tree framed by a playground sail

Riley and Lawson 0048

A grandchild enjoying the playground

As people make their way up the hill, they pass by four installed large rocks into which have been set the verses of Henry Lawson’s poem, Rain in the Mountains. You can read it here: Rain in the Mountains.

Lawson walk_0014

Verse 3

Depending on the weather and time of day when I go for a walk, I can photograph images on and around the hill reflecting phrases in that poem. Misty cloud. Frowning mountains. Leaden grey sky. Night coming early. Rain passing. Golden afternoons.

IMG_0659

Frowning mountains

IMG_0676

Golden afternoon

IMG_0664

Night coming early

Towards the top of the hill is a lone tree which makes a great focal point for images against the changing cloudscapes and moods of the sky.

IMG_0674

Lone tree at sunset

At the very top of the hill is the historic trig station as well as recently installed features, pointing to the various high points in the surrounding landscape and providing artworks for contemplation.

Lawson walk_0034

Pointing to Mt Rogers

Lawson walk_0031

Artwork circles

IMG_0581

Sculptural seating

From the slopes of the hill you can see an historic building in the surrounding paddocks that have not yet been developed with townhouses and apartments. In the right late light, the building sits amongst golden glowing grasses. The building was part of Bells – the most powerful naval wireless base in the British empire and the largest naval or commercial station in the southern hemisphere.

IMG_0610

Bells in golden glowing grasses

Along the paths that go around the hill as well as up it, there are information boards providing knowledge regarding some of these things, such as the trig station.

Lawson walk_0023

Sign about the trig station

IMG_0530

The trig station standing sentinel beneath a cloudscape

Take a walk on Reservoir Hill some time. I may see you there.

Standard

Contemporary Photography

Every quarter I write a piece for the APS Focus page in Australian Photography magazine. This is my latest piece, published in the March 2018 issue now in newsagencies.

As published:EPSON MFP image

What is Contemporary photography?

That is the question that I get asked more than any other in my role as Chair of the APS Contemporary Group.

There is no simple answer. Indeed, it generates an incredible amount of discussion amongst the Group’s members and, particularly, amongst members of the Friends of APS Contemporary Group Facebook group. The debate flares up again seemingly every time we get a new participant in that Facebook group who asks for advice. The discussion that ensued following the announcement of the 2017 Olive Cotton Award was incredibly vigorous, but most worthwhile because it opened a needed conversation.

Roger Skinner was behind the creation of Contemporary Group in 1993 and he was its inaugural Chair. His idea was that the new group would extend beyond the realms of art photography and promote the appreciation of photography as a communication medium. In his 2002 annual report, Skinner wrote “The group are quite happy with the definition of Contemporary as basically anything they don’t see in Image magazine.” Image was then the Society’s monthly magazine.

In her preamble to the Contemporary Group presentation at APSCON 2003, the next Chair, Kay Mack, said “It is difficult to find a neat phrase to cover the subject as Contemporary photography encompasses such a wide range of photographic media and concepts. If you visit any of the Contemporary photographic galleries in our major cities you will see anything from photograms, to images made with a pinhole or toy camera, to the older processes like cyanotype, to huge digitally-produced prints, to video clips and interactive computer-based programs. You will find straight documentary work, often supported by the written word, abstracts, collage, and illustrations of concepts as far “way out” as you might imagine. You won’t be alone if you admit to understanding and appreciating only some of what you see. But that’s always been the way with contemporary or modern art of any era. There has to be someone breaking new ground who is out in front of public taste. Some of the work will survive. Some of it won’t.”

Responding in 2017 to a query by a new member of the Friends Facebook group, Mack said “For me the image … or preferably the group of images … need(s) to be an expression of an idea or a concept that is important to the photographer. This could be something of purely personal significance or of something that has global attention. The way in which the concept is expressed is secondary. The photographer is free to use any techniques in his/her repertoire. This includes titling and accompanying words to support the concept.”

This year, the Group’s members have been invited to submit works for an exhibition of Contemporary faceless self-portraits. It will be held during the 2018 annual convention of the APS at the Gold Coast Arts Centre from 11-16 September. At the time of writing twenty-one members have expressed interest in participating and most have commenced developing their ideas. The task, of course, is to reveal something of themselves. Responding to one query by a participant I said “the idea ….. was intended to make us all think about how we might represent ourselves in a self-portrait. My face, indeed my physical appearance generally, doesn’t tell anyone much about who I am. The clothes I’m wearing might say a bit – but what do I do, what do I believe, what are my opinions, etc.”

A selection panel will be set up to choose which of the submitted works will be included in the exhibition. I am looking forward to seeing an eclectic group of 2 and, maybe, 3 dimensional images and installations on display. No doubt some of the traditionalists attending the convention will be bemused or even think some participants have created very strange works. However, I am also hopeful that some more converts will join Contemporary Group and start working in the fascinating and challenging field of Contemporary photography.

I am planning to lodge one or more works for consideration for the exhibition, but right now have only just commenced thinking about what I might create. The image accompanying this article is not a self-portrait; it is a portrayal of the sense of crowdedness I felt at an exhibition opening.

Readers who would be interested in seeing the exhibition or joining the APS Contemporary Group can find more information about both on the APS Website. Those interested in joining the Friends of APS Contemporary Group Facebook group need to be registered on Facebook themselves then search for the group and lodge a request to join.

A Crowded Opening by Brian Rope

A Crowded Opening

Standard

No Go Zones

Every quarter I write a piece for the APS Focus page in Australian Photography magazine. This is my latest piece, published in the December 2017 issue now in newsagencies.

As published:EPSON MFP image

Are there no-go zones when it comes to what we photograph?

My local photographic society recently held a most interesting discussion regarding the ethical questions that need to be considered when taking, or perhaps more importantly, publishing street photography. We talked, and shared views, about such things as our whether photographing children in third world countries that we visit was the same as international tourists photographing Australian kids. We debated whether photographing homeless people is appropriate. We considered whether street photography involves a different set of ethical principles to other areas of image capturing. We compared what we might do with the practices of the paparazzi photographers who have come under fire.

But the area I want to discuss here is somewhat different to street photography. It relates to a much more personal, or intimate, time for most of us. We photograph most of the major events in the lives of our family members. We capture images of our children from very soon after they are born, at their baptisms, each time they have a birthday, at times like Christmas, during their involvement in sports or other activities, appearing in school concerts (provided the school allows it), and arriving at their Year 10 or 12 formals.

Later in their lives, we photograph people when they graduate from secondary school or university, when they get engaged or married, when women are “heavy with child”, and even at the time of birth. All through our lives we capture images of family and friend gatherings. We photograph our parents as they get older. Occasionally other people even photograph us when we aren’t behind our own cameras.

Nowadays vast numbers of images of ourselves, our friends and our family members are captured on the cameras built into our smart phones.

But it seems there is at least one area of our life journeys that we generally do not photograph in my culture. I’m thinking about funerals. Yes, we photograph our friends and families at the wakes or other gatherings that follow the celebration of the departed one’s life – because we must take the opportunity presented by the fact that we have all come together. After all, it is so often at such occasions that we catch up with others that we rarely see in person!

However, in my experience it is rare to see photographs taken during the funeral service or, indeed, afterwards until that family photo opportunity is taken at the wake. I wonder why? Is it just my personal experience and you are saying to yourself that I must move in very different circles to you? Or am I right and it is also your experience? As an aside, I note that I have seen videos made of funeral services much more than I have seen still photography taken at them.

I recall seeing, and photographing, funeral processions when traveling in Europe – largely because the “hearse” was ornate and seemingly from another era. I have seen images of funeral occasions in some exotic overseas locations published in newspapers or magazines. Because the locations are exotic to us?

Of course, there are always photojournalists at the funerals of people in the public eye for one reason or another. And, obviously, they photograph the funerals – at least the crowds outside that include other celebrities.

But how often have you seen photos taken when you have attended the funerals of ordinary folk? How often have you taken images yourself at such events? If, like me, it is rare for you to have taken shots at such funerals, why is that?

If we photograph everything else in a person’s life journey, why do we leave out the final step? Is it because we are grieving ourselves? Is it because we feel the immediate family would be offended? Does it just not occur to us? Am I in error? Are there other significant markers in the journey that we omit to photograph?

A search of my own digital or digitised images reveals just a few taken during funeral services. Only one of them is in a category that I would call personal, showing a mourner with head bowed just beyond his mother’s casket. Others are of the scene inside the chapel prior to a cremation, and of the flowers in the church or inside the hearse before it leaves for a cemetery. There are a small number showing mourners at the graveside gathering around the casket before it was lowered into the grave.

And there are a few taken as a funeral cortege assembled at the celebration of the life of the wonderful Australian photographer, Robyn Beeche. I think she would have been pleased that this near to last step of her life journey was photographed.

Respect

Respect

 

Standard

Canberra – Our Streets

A few months ago I was approached by a friend to be one of a small group of Canberra photographers to do an exhibition of Canberra street photography. In due course, three of us – Ian Copland, David Chalker and myself – agreed to put together an exhibition. A venue was arranged. We then set about capturing our images. Along the way we agreed on how many prints we each would provide, the size of those prints and the prices we would ask for them. The exhibition will be hung on 21 November 2017 and be on display from 22 November until 4 December at The Front Cafe gallery in Wattle Street, Lyneham (in Canberra). We will officially open the exhibition at 6 PM on 22 November. We have publicised the exhibition on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and by distributing this card through various channels and via email:

EPSON MFP image

We have also sought to get publicity in various local print media.

Eventually I had gathered some 340 images to choose from. The task was not altogether easy, but the 14 A3 size prints that I eventually chose to print are below.

Busking - Jamison

Busking – Jamison

This image of a young busker outside the Jamison Centre in Macquarie was taken on 13 August 2016, before the exhibition idea was floated. I had to include it in the exhibition because I love the colours and the diagonal shadow. The seated man using his laptop seems oblivious of the busker’s performance, but may have been enjoying it.

White Goods - Belconnen

White Goods – Belconnen

This image was taken outside the door to a warehouse where I was waiting to take delivery of a new item that I had purchased for our new home on 24 March 2017. The woman in the image was standing a short distance along near these old white goods. I grabbed the image on my iPhone.

Wet Crossing - Manuka

Wet Crossing – Manuka

This image was also taken on my iPhone whilst waiting to be picked up on an extremely wet night in Manuka on 30 March 2017.

Bar Upstairs - Manuka

Bar Upstairs – Manuka

On the same wet night and using the same iPhone camera, I took this image of an older man in the Manuka shopping centre, doing his best to raise money to support himself close to a couple of popular nightspots.

Looking Inside - Lyneham

Looking Inside – Lyneham

On 6 April 2017 whilst Looking around the Lyneham shops near to our exhibition venue, I spied this man looking inside a storage space accessed from the laneway.

Thinking Music - Dickson

Thinking Music – Dickson

During a walk with my camera from Lyneham to Ainslie via Dickson, I captured this image in the Dickson shopping centre. I was attracted by the young man seemingly in deep thought whilst behind him a busker dressed in the same colours was playing his music.

Dumping Prohibited - Dickson

 

Dumping Prohibited – Dickson

On the same walk on 7 April 2017 and not far away from where the previous image was shot, I took this image of a seated young woman on her phone near this waste bin with its prohibition notice.

Laneway Conversation - Dickson

Laneway Conversation – Dickson

Also on 7 April 2017 in a laneway in another part of the shopping precinct of Dickson, I was attracted to this interaction between the brightly clad man and a woman and child walking past a faded advertising sign for the same company the man is employed by.

Looking at the screen - Dickson

Looking at the screen – Dickson

It was a most fruitful walk on 7 April 2017 because I also found this image in Dickson. Again the ubiquitous smart phone is in use, but it was the graphic elements that took my eye for this shot.

Taking a Break - Dickson

Taking a break – Dickson

My final offering from Dickson on 7 April 2017 depicts an older lady on a seat – not using a phone.

Marry Me - Dickson

Marry Me – Dickson

On another visit to Dickson on 18 April 2017 I grabbed this image of two cyclists near this large mural in a laneway. Again I used my iPhone.

Morning Paper - Dickson

Morning Paper – Dickson

On the same day with the same phone camera I was delighted to find this lady squatting low on the footpath reading a newspaper.

Communicating at The Front Cafe - Lyneham

Communicating at The Front Cafe – Lyneham

Back in Lyneham on 5 May 2017, I captured these customers of the exhibition venue communicating, not with each other, but rather with his music and her laptop. This time I was using my DSLR camera.

Passing the Hoarding - Woden

Passing the Hoarding – Woden

Visiting the other side of the city on 17 July 2017, I was attracted to this hoarding with graffiti in Woden and waited for someone to walk through to capture this image. Once again, my iPhone camera was utilised.

Standard

Glass Plate Negatives Gift

Many years back a friend gave me two glass plate negatives that she had found in a second-hand shop and which she thought I would like because of my interest in photography. It is only now that I have put any effort into identifying the buildings depicted in the images.

Glass Negatives Gift - DPI

It was remarkably easy to establish that the above image of the entrance to the Department of Public Instruction is of “a sandstone building that symbolised the civic virtues of public education” at 35-39 Bridge Street, Sydney. The entrance is still the same, except for the name of the occupying department being Education, as can be seen in the image below by Pware – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25646817.

DPI Building

The large and heritage-listed Edwardian Baroque public building was designed by Colonial Architect George McRae and built in two stages, the first completed in 1912, with John Reid and Son completing the second stage in 1938. It is described in a section about colonial state education in the Dictionary of Sydney Website’s section about education: https://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/education. This is an excerpt from it:

“The opening of the university created the need for a ‘feeder school’. With encouragement from the University professors, the colonial parliament enacted legislation which founded and endowed Sydney Grammar School, opened in 1857 on the College Street site the university had just vacated.

The establishment of the university and the endowment of Sydney Grammar School were indicators of the growing role of the colonial state in secondary and higher education. It was the same in elementary education. From 1848 the National Board of Education competed with the ‘denominational schools’ of the churches. By 1866 the old name of ‘national’ schools, associated with the now failed educational experiment in Ireland, had been replaced by ‘public’ from a local Australian perspective. It was a clear indication that the schools of the state, just like the university, were being designed to serve ‘public’ interests.

From the 1850s, colonial governments founded many solidly built Gothic-style public schools as a statement of commitment to civic pride and the common good. Many were opened in the city and nearby suburbs. Such schools as Cleveland Street (1856) and Bourke Street (1866), both of which still stand today, were demonstrations of the authority and resources of public schools over the less impressive school buildings of the churches.

At the peak of the public-school system was Fort Street Public School, opened in 1850 just above The Rocks on Observatory Hill. Established as a model training school for teachers, Fort Street soon achieved outstanding results at the public examinations administered by the University of Sydney. Fort Street and similar state-provided schools became ‘superior’ public schools offering a form of secondary education for ‘free’.

With the universal male franchise came a clear view that education in a common school should be the basis of a common citizenship for most social classes. This was a challenge to the churches, particularly the Church of England and the Roman Catholics, who continued to maintain their own school systems with the assistance of state aid and in competition with the public schools of the state. While the church schools were often designed for the poorer classes, state administrators such as William Wilkins knew that many middle-class parents in Sydney had come to prefer the public schools as providing the ‘best’ education.

These issues came to head in the 1870s, culminating in the 1880 Act which removed all state aid from church schools and established a Department of Public Instruction. It was soon based in Bridge Street, Sydney, in a sandstone building that symbolised the civic virtues of public education.

The Church of England agreed to give up its elementary schools (while moving more into establishing secondary schools) in the interests of common Protestantism. But the Roman Catholic Church rejected this settlement and condemned all public schools as ‘irreligious’ even though they still taught a form of non-denominational Christianity and allowed the churches some access. A great religious and cultural divide was created in Sydney, as in the rest of Australia where similar arrangements prevailed. Where you went to school almost mattered more than where or whether you went to church. Public schools had lay teachers; Catholic schools survived through having the ‘religious’ as teachers.”

The second glass plate negative image (below) that was given to me shows the drinking fountain at 1A Prince Albert Road in Sydney with St Mary’s Cathedral in the background across St Mary’s Road. It took me a little longer to identify that location. A friend has suggested the cars look like the 1930s.

Glass Negatives Gift - StMarys - adjusted

The February 2017 image below, by Robert Porter and found on Google maps, clearly shows the same location.

Water Fountain

The NSW Office of Heritage and Environment website refers to the water fountain as the Frazer Memorial Fountain. It also says: “Historically significant as a manifestation of nineteenth century philanthropy, this edifice is one of the few intact remaining drinking fountains in Sydney. Demonstrates earlier aspects of daily life in relation to water supply and usage as well as public health and hygiene. Long association with parks gardens and pleasure grounds. Aesthetically significant as a good example of baroque-inspired Victorian Gothic sandstone fountain. Socially significant as a source of drinking water as well as a meeting place prior to the universal provision of reticulated water.” It also describes it: “Elaborate baroque-inspired sandstone drinking fountain. A good example of an ornate sandstone covered drinking fountain, it features Pyrmont sandstone and specially imported Aberdeen granite in the water basins. The fountain is set on a square base from the corners of which arise four pilaster/column groups which support the wide arches. There is a crenellated spire surmounted by a lantern and steps at the base of the fountain which give access on each side to the area where the water basin formerly stood.” And finally, it indicates: “The fountain was fully restored (excluding water feature) in 2003.”

The Website http://www.cityartsydney.com.au/ tells us that it “is the second of two Frazer drinking fountains donated to the city by John Frazer MLC, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist. The fountains are both made of fine Pyrmont sandstone and were installed in 1881 and 1884 respectively. While both fountains were designed by City Architect Thomas Sapsord and sculpted by Mittagong sculptor Lawrence Beveridge, they are very different in style. This fountain – the second – was erected in 1884 at the outer perimeter of the Domain on Mary’s Road (opposite the northern end of St. Mary’s Cathedral), where it remains today. Its Baroque style is very ornate and contrasts with the simple Gothic lines of the first Frazer Fountain, located in Hyde Park. Like its forerunner, this fountain features Pyrmont sandstone and specially imported Aberdeen granite in the water basins. The dolphin taps and drinking cups that once featured have long since vanished but the high sheen of the granite basins remains. The original handrail surrounding the fountain has also been removed, though a section of it was still standing in 1983. Unlike the first fountain (which has had its taps and drinking cups replaced with a bubble fountain in keeping with changing attitudes towards health and hygiene) a resolution of the Council in 1936 to replace this fountain’s dolphin taps was not carried into effect.”

 There endeth the history lesson!

Standard