Manifold is Passing By


“Manifold: of many kinds or varieties; varied or diverse in appearance, form, or character; numerous and abundant.

Tacit gallery is showing some prints from my Manifold series in a group show called Passing By. The photographs are close ups of weathered stone and rusting iron on 19th century graves. They were shot on black & white film with a Bronica medium format camera – yes, analogue.

Passing By is the fifth annual show with a group of friends who are former students of mine. Each year we choose a title and work independently to interpret it photographically. Past titles were Bound by Books, Momentary, Folded and After Words.

The Manifold images interpret the theme of “passing by” through the evocative surfaces of 19th century gravestones. The family name on one gravestone, Manifold, suggests the many lives and deaths commemorated in that cemetery. It stand for the brief lives poignantly commemorated there, the people who “passed by.”

The exhibition is at Tacit Contemporay Art in Abbotsford, and runs from October 5 to 16..


Atget meets Godard

Belmondo                Frame still from Breathless, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, 1960

Eugéne Atget and Jean-Luc Godard had something in common, even though their lives never coincided. The photographer of Paris and the Parisien  director overlapped in their choice of a street, Rue Campaigne-Premiére, one to live in and the other to set the climax of his debut movie. Atget lived for many years at 17 bis, Rue Campaigne-Premiére, in Montparnasse. His flat and photography business were there, where the immortal words on his shingle stated: Eugene Atget, Documents for Artists. There is a heritage plaque marking his residence, a site and a sight which brought tears to the eyes of this writer.

The street was also the home and workplace of many other artists, including Man Ray and Berenice Abbott, who together sort of discovered Atget and helped make him one of the immortals of photography. Man Ray’s business was a few doors away and he had noticed Atget’s sign.

The street was a magnet for artists. At no 3 is the Hotel Istria where lived Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Francis Picabia, Tristan Tzara, Modigliani, Moïse Kisling, Foujita, Nicholas de Stael and Yves Klein; writers Louis Aragon, Rainer Maria Rilke and Vladimir Mayakowsky, composer Eric Satie and the idol of Bohemian Paris, Kiki de Montparnasse. The hotel is still running.

Back to Godard. Rue Campaigne-Premiére played a part in launching the  French New Wave cinema of the 1960s when the director chose it for the final scene of his breakthrough movie Breathless, 1959, known in French as A Bout de Souffle. There is now a restaurant by that name on the street level of Atget’s building. 

In the final scene, low-life crim Jean-Paul Belmondo is shot in the back and staggers along the street, past Atget’s address, past the Hotel Istria and Man Ray’s studio, to expire theatrically on the ground while Jean Seberg looks on.

 Rue-Campaign-Premier           Google Street View showing the same location in Rue Campaigne-Premiére.

A final note. What does the name of the street signify? It commemorates the ‘first campaign’ by the military officer who later subdivided this area of land which was then outside the city. Paris is drenched with history.


The Bowness Prize 2016

bowness-2016-1     Greg Neville, Bowness Prize 2016

The Bowness Prize exhibition is the “grownups class” for photographers. It’s a place you go to see the highest level  of technical and pictorial accomplishment in illustrative photography.

Established in 2006 the Bowness has quickly become Australia’s most coveted photography prize. It’s based at the Monash Gallery of Art at Wheelers Hill in Melbourne, a distinguished venue for photography for three decades. Go there for the pictures, the bookshop, the café, the park and for the purpose-designed architecture by the great Harry Seidler.

The judging panel for 2016 included famed Australian film director Fred Schepisi AO, esteemed architectural photographer John Gollings AM and Monash Gallery of Art Director Kallie Blauhorn. You could trust that team.

Here are some favourites from the 2016 Bowness, with excerpts from the artists statements. Click on the images for a better view.

mike-gray    Mike Gray, Backyard Bag Study, 2016

“In between the camera and the backyard is a single element lens that projects the scene into a plastic bag that acts like the focussing screen of a large format camera. Essentially the materials act as a model for the human eye with the retina replaced by a disposable consumer item.”


 darren-tanDarren Tan, Friday, 2016

“Through the composition of images I captured while documenting the morning routine of the average white-collar worker, Creatures of Habit explores the banality and pedestrianism inherent to the nine-to-five.”


brett-canet-gibson     Brett Canet-Gibson, The Drowning Noun #3, 2015

“The drowning noun is a series of still-life images constructed from found objects.


michael-williams-mothershipMichael Williams, Mothership, 2016

“My photographs are formal studies of urban and suburban environments. I am drawn to locations rich with combinations of unsettling colour motifs and disjointed spatial elements.”


Greg Wayn at Flinders Island

Greg-Wayn-Flinders-Island-1                 Greg Wayn, Flinders Island, 2016

Greg Wayn’s recent trip to Flinders Island resulted in some fine black & white photographs. They are very much in the style of his earlier analogue photography, well known for its composition and tonal beauty.

Greg has posted a series of his new photographs which were made on digital cameras in colour and then converted into black & white …

I have been thinking lately of the shifts in thought processes and associated disciplines from my B&W film days to my current digital image processes. Somehow my brain was able to ‘see’ in B&W tonality when I was using my medium and large format cameras. Film was expensive and processing very time and energy intensive; the days of film were quite exhausting and demanding.

I still find it interesting to re-process my colour digital images into B&W versions as it brings back all that hard won knowledge and for this series I have even used the 4×5 (and 8×10) crop proportions that I used when using my large format 4×5 and 8×10 cameras. This is a significant discipline in its own right and you just had to accept the process and limitations and work with them.. Getting back into these thought process is still important for me and the careful framing of this proportion is quite a different experience compared to the typical 4:3 or 3:2 proportions of the digital sensor. As for square format, that is another thing entirely …

Greg’s photographs can be seen on his Photoworks blog

greg-wayn-flinders-island-3                 Greg Wayn, Flinders Island, 2016


Bill Lane’s industrial parks

Big Ben's Boxing                      Bill Lane, Big Ben’s Boxing, 2016

In his new exhibition at 69 Smith Street, Bill Lane makes a direct connection with a classic work from the 1970s.

“The Older Industrial Parks near Newport, Victoria” is Bill’s response to a landmark exhibition of 1974 by the photographer Lewis Baltz. It was called “The New Industrial Parks near Irvine, California” and was part of the movement called New Topographics.

Photographers of the “man-altered landscape” made images that were …stripped of any artistic frills and reduced to an essentially topographic state, conveying substantial amounts of visual information but eschewing entirely the aspects of beauty, emotion and opinion.

Bill Lane continues this research with some differences in style. He works in colour, on oblique angles, and at a more detached distance than Baltz. His photographs were often taken in the evening or at the magic hour, that luminous period where the sunlight mellows and the streetlights come on. His photographs take full advantage of the subtle hues and metallic lustre in the artificial streets; the prints glow almost with inner light.

But his approach shows a wariness of falling into Pictorialism, the sin of prettiness, and he proves his topographic purpose by including on the website for the project, a map with an arrow pointing to the exact location of each photograph.

Bent                  Bill Lane, Bent, 2016

The exhibition runs until Sunday September 4 at 69 Smith Street gallery in Fitzroy.