Urban Still Life 2




Greg Neville, Urban Still Life, Wednesday November 27, 2013

More images in my imaginary new genre, the ‘urban still life’, arrangements of objects and settings in the urban environment. These are pretty much as they came out of the camera, Levelled but uncropped, from my magic Fuji X100.


CCP Salon


CCP Salon, November 2013

The CCP curators have hung my piece in a very nice position looking out over the main gallery. This year’s Salon is a good one, there seems to be less of the corny camera club type of photos and more images that make you want to see more of the artist’s work. Some of those are my students from NMIT. I counted four in the Salon but there may be more. Look out for the work of Sally D’Orsogna, Marlene Zammit, Bernadette Boundy and Vicky Catchpole.

The annual Salon is a tribal meeting of Melbourne’s photographers and is on until December 14.


Grad show


Fred Zhang, 2013

The NMIT Photoimaging graduate show opened at Chapel Off Chapel this week and runs until December 8. One of the notable features of graduate work from this course is the high image quality, the precision in the technical means of photography. Since the course is mainly for aspiring professional photographers, this is an important issue. Sheer visual beauty, quite apart from content, is one of the first requirements of a good commercial photograph.

Fred Zhang from Beijing, won an AIPP award for the beautiful picture above and was announced the Victorian Student Photographer of the Year. This is prestige in the small community of professional photographers. See his website here.

Steichen and Deco


Edward Steichen, Tamaris with a large Art Deco scarf 1925

The great U.S. photographer Edward Steichen helped establish fashion photography as a genre. He was head photographer at Vogue and Vanity Fair from 1924 until 1937 thus spanning the period of Art Deco. That is the subject of the excellent show at the NGV Edward Steichen and Art Deco Fashion which runs until March 2.

Steichen looms so large in the history of photography he’s almost invisible. An establishment figure in that he was always successful and always celebrated, he might be missed out by people looking for artists with more edge. That would be a pity because he achieved everything you could in a 60 year career: painter, art photographer, modern art impresario, military photographer, technical expert, pioneer of fashion photography, portraitist, World War II filmmaker, curator of photography at MoMA and creator of the most successful photography exhibition of all time – The Family of Man. Who can match match 60 years at the top? The exhibition has a 1930s film showing the master at work in his New York studio and you can see what a grand figure he was.

The 8×10 prints in the NGV show are so beautiful they constitute a master class in photography – if you’re willing to look close enough. Study the lighting, pose, composition and print quality and you’ll see what a good photograph can be. Steichen was a photographer’s photographer – let him teach you.

Pola Negri

Edward Steichen, Pola Negri, 1925


My CCP Figure


Greg Neville, Figure 1, 2013

This year’s CCP Salon opens on November 21. This is my work, a human figure taken from a 1912 postcard of Wall Street. I have a small collection of vintage postcards of US skyscrapers, many of which include tiny ant-like people on the streets.

The printers dots almost overwhelm the figures, which hover just at the point of disintegration. They have an appealing quality of mystery. Since the postcards are derived from photographs, although heavily retouched, they do represent reality and the figures are real people. Who were they? One of the enigmas of photography is this preservation of identity. Despite the distance of time and the disruptions of technology, we encounter this anonymous figure as an individual like ourselves, a fellow human being,


Postcard, Wall Street, New York City, 1912


Wendy Ewald at the CCP


Centre for Contemporary Photography

The Wendy Ewald exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Photography closes on Sunday, November 10. This is a fascinating show, a well-curated summary of this photographic educator’s long and brilliant career.

For more than forty years, Wendy Ewald has been making art with children, families and teachers in countries across the world, from the US and Colombia to India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia. Both artist and educator, Ewald embraces the principles of experiential learning. Using pictures to teach children and teaching children to take pictures, she combines their astonishing images with her own, and adds their rich, colourful and often poignant stories of coming to terms with situations of social conflict and rapid change.

Presented for the first time in Australia this inspiring model for creativity, and poignant, beautiful exhibition spans four decades and four continents. Ewald has learned to recognise what other people see, the questions their visions ask of the world and, finally, how to allow their perceptions to surface with her own.


World’s largest photograph?


Wish, Jorge Rodríguez–Gerada, 2013

Is this the world’s largest photograph? Is it a photograph at all?

‘Wish’ by the photographer Jorge Rodríguez–Gerada is a commission for the Belfast Festival; he photographed a young local girl making a wish for the future (a corny idea). The photo itself is ordinary, but how he printed it makes it interesting. It’s laid out on an 11 acre paddock, “printed” with soil, sand, stones and wooden stakes.

The image can best be viewed from the air, and passengers landing at Belfast airport get a good view. Otherwise, an oblique view is possible from the adjacent Titanic Belfast museum, at the right of this image.

The photographer-sculptor-land artist-muralist (take your pick) specializes in giant portraits, rendered at public sites around the world, but this is his largest work. See his website for these ambitious projects.

Is it a photograph? It started out as a photo taken with a camera. And it looks like a photo when viewed from the air. So it’s just a question of the printing process, earth materials laid out on the ground instead of paper, ink or silver. Well, silver comes out of the ground, and ultimately all materials have some natural origin, so I’m granting it the status of World’s Largest Photograph.


Barcelona Unfolds




Arthur Tress, gatefold pages, Barcelona Unfolds

The inventive U.S. photographer Arthur Tress has recently been using Blurb Books to get out a series of photographic projects in book form. These are for old and new projects that may not otherwise be seen. He’s been busy, there are about twenty of them, all available for sale on the Blurb Bookstore site: http://au.blurb.com/search/site_search?page=1&search=arthur+tress

My favourite is the ingenious Barcelona Unfolds (http://au.blurb.com/b/997813-barcelona-unfolds-arthur-tress).

This book is about a week I spent wandering around the streets of Barcelona. I mostly took pictures of old and new architecture plus small accidental details of urban life and people, often including my own hand. I shot them all at an angle of 45 degrees to give a more dynamic effect.

He invites the purchaser of the book to fold the pages creating multiple connections of images. I ask the person who buys the book online to take about ten minutes and work on transforming the book into a new physical creation. For “Barcelona Unfolds” this means that all the forty pages of the book must be neatly folded, either to the right or left, down the center edge in the middle of the page.This will create a series of twenty “gatefolds” that can be carefully opened or closed as you turn all the pages in sequence.


Arthur Tress, Barcelona Unfolds, Blurb Books