My Photography

My Connections Prints

In June 2021, I reviewed an exhibition Connections here. I had two prints in that exhibition but did not include or mention them, as it is not appropriate to review one’s own work.

The catalogue for the exhibition referred to strange events of recent times having reminded us how important it is to stay connected with each other, family and places. Visitors to the gallery were invited to celebrate the diversity and joy of connections.

Participants were invited to submit as many images as they liked – then a selection panel chose the works to be included in the exhibition. I submitted about 30 possibilities then (just before the panel made its decisions) I was asked to submit another one that a panel member had seen, and thought would be good.

I was somewhat surprised and, yes, disappointed that a number of my submissions did not make the cut as I thought they were good – if not better than the two that were chosen. But so be it.

Amongst those not selected were some making use of words accompanying the images (a connection between the images and the words) – including Spilled Shadow which I’ve previously written about here. There were others where I had sought to show connections between groups of people in them, a connection between an old friend and myself, the connection between a jazz musician and his instrument, connection between my daughter and one of her daughters, and connections between several images put together into composites.

Here are my two selected works and just a few words about each of them.

Burnouts © Brian Rope

Burnouts is the image I was invited to submit at the last moment. It is a composite of 24 images of marks made where rubber had attached itself to the paved surface of a large carpark where one or more vehicles had been doing burnouts, probably at night when there was nobody else around. The marks show something of the physical connections between the vehicles tyres and the carpark paving, and also something of the connections between the driver(s) and their joy of successfully achieving the burnouts “man and machine” if you like.

Using a phone in the NGA © Brian Rope

Using a phone in the NGA is actually quite an old image, made in May 2018. Looking down from an upper level I saw a person seated below making no apparent connection with anyone else or with any of the artworks in the gallery – other than, possibly, on a mobile phone in her hands. There is nobody else on the seating or in the space around her. The original image, made using my phone camera, has some vibrant colour on the seating, but I felt that converting it to monochrome – and cropping it somewhat – made for a much stronger image.

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Reviews

Connections

Photographic Art Exhibition Review

Connections | Various Artists: Alan Charlton, Alan Pomeroy, Andrea Bryant, Andree Lawrey, Ann Gibbs-Jordan, Anne Eldridge, Barb Smith, Brenda Runnegar, Brian Rope, Caroline Lemerle, Chris Holly, Dorothy Zenz, Eva van Gorsel, Geoff Meers, Helen McFadden, John Forsey, Judy Parker, Julie Garran, Louise Bagger, Margaret Stapper, Marion Milliken, Matt James, Michael N King, Nicky Bazley-Smith, Pam Rooney, Paul Carpenter, Phil McFadden, Sheila Lunter, Steven Shaw, Susan Henderson, and Tongbo Sun.

M16 Artspace | 21 May – 6 June

Disclaimer: the author of this review has two works in the exhibition but received no payment for the review.

This is the first exhibition presented by Canberra PhotoConnect, a relatvely new group. The catalogue tells us The strange events of recent times have reminded us how important it is to stay connected with each other, family and places. Visitors to the gallery are invited to celebrate the diversity and joy of connections.

It is difficult to individually comment on all 66 works in the exhibition, so I will not try to; rather, I will look at particular works that attracted my attention for various reasons.

Louise Bagger’s Portrait of Joshua is a very fine portrait. It is intense, dark and moody all at once. There is an obvious connection between subject and artist.

Louise Bagger – Portrait of Joshua

Helen McFadden’s artworks combining photgraphs with scans of sketches are beautifully created and enhanced by being their printing.

Helen McFadden – Gloriosa study

Nicky Bazley-Smith’s Rhythm of the Trees is delightful with four well-placed humans in a beautiful landscape photographed when the lighting effectively brought out the textures and forms before a brooding sky.

Nicky Bazley-Smith – Rhythm of the Trees

Judy Parker’s Burning is richly coloured leaving us in no doubt that we are viewing, and connecting with, a representation of fire even if we are unsure of what she actually has photographed.


Judy Parker – Burning

Julie Garran’s black and white Children Play images are powerful. The boy child at play shots are quite disturbing as he holds and “uses” a powerful-looking toy (hopefully) weapon. The connections between play and real world are clear.

Julie Garran – Children Play II

Eva van Gorsel’s De-Constructed series are further fine examples of this talented artist’s works.

Eva van Gorsel – DeConstructed IV

Caroline Lemerle’s Monaro in drought 2019 is displayed in between two of Margaret Stapper’s images. The three work well together and portray aspects of connections to the rural landscape.

Caroline Lemerle – Monaro in drought
Margaret Stapper – ‘Disconnected’, Coleambally, NSW

Marion Milliken shows just one work, Jeffrey Smart Space. She has not copied, or even imitated, Smart, but has perhaps paid some small personal homage to him by creating a work that “connects” to his.

Marion Milliken – JeffreySmart Space

Steven Shaw’s images from Kolmanskop, a tourist destination ghost town in the Namib in southern Namibia, are worthy contributions. The broken foot in particular is worth contemplating with respect to the connection between the bathtub and the painting on the wall above it.

Steven Shaw – Kolmanskop – The broken foot

Susan Henderson’s Autumn leaves, 2020 is a clever work, showing the fallen evidence of the season on a patchwork of pavers enhanced by colourful art. There is an interesting connection between the colours of the various elements in the artwork.

Susan Henderson – Autumn Leaves

Barb Smith’s somewhat mysterious red, blue and green Mythologies series provides a connection with past technologies, as they are Inkjet prints made from scans of C41 photographs.

Barb Smith – Mythologies II Life

Phil McFadden’s Stone Pull, Hornbill Festival, Nagaland India, 2017 is a successful image – colourful and eye catching (and used for the exhibition’s publicity). But I felt that most of the people in it showed only minimal connection with the photographer.

Phil McFadden – Stone Pull, Hornbill Festival, Nagaland, India

Dorothy Zenz’s Classic is an interesting composite of several images, at least some of which relate to love. It is worth contemplating to see what connections you as the viewer can make to its elements.

Dorothy Zenz – Classic

Alan Pomeroy’s Skyscape Sculpture shows a very colourful sculpture overlaid on a colourless cloudscape. The connection is not clear to me, but the resultant artwork is good.

Alan Pomeroy – Skyscape Sculpture

Ann Gibbs-Jordan has explored the sense of place in two fine monochrome works, each comprising two juxtaposed scenes.

Ann Gibbs-Jordan – Sense of Space II, Mound Spring, SA and near Bedourie, Qld

Brenda Runnegar’s two works are clever composites of photographic images with scanned artworks.

Brenda Runnegar – Fleur

Visit the exhibition to see all the works and make your own connections.

This review is also on the Canberra Critics Circle blog here.

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