The Sievers project

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Cameron Clarke, Gauge Area (Ford Territory Right Hand Rear Quarter Panel) Geelong Stamping Plant, Ford Motor Company 2014

Wolfgang Sievers was the great Australian photographer of work and industry. His career prospered during the middle and late decades of the 20th century when Australia actually made things, made everything. That productive economy is gone so it’s interesting to see how young photographers respond to his work. That is the curatorial brief for the new exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, called The Sievers project.

Six early career artists, working in photography through to installation, have responded in diverse ways to renowned Australian photographer Wolfgang Sievers.

It’s a worthy idea – what does a twenty-something photographer make of of the great period of Australian manufacturing and industrial growth, when most traces of it are gone?

To my eye the best work in the show, and the closest to Sievers’ own ideas, is that of Cameron Clarke who labels himself a documentary photographer. Large frontal images of machines and portraits of workers are presented in a long row of rich black & white prints.

But Clarke’s series is an elegy, not a celebration. The subject of Clarke’s photographs, the Ford factory in Geelong will soon stop manufacturing. On the very day of writing this post it was in the headlines announcing redundancies of 130 workers.

 

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Melbourne’s photography zone

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Did you realize Melbourne has a small photography precinct? A two minute walk in Gore Street Fitzroy can take you to six photographic establishments. Friday or Saturday are the best days to do it, as they’re all open. I doubt if many other cities have anything like this, and wouldn’t it be nice if more venues opened in the same area?

Van Bar is Australia’s leading retailer of professional photographic supplies. It’s where the goodies are. 450 Gore Street Fitzroy.

Colour Factory is a leading photographic printing establishment, established in the 1980s by the photographer Tim Handfield. 409 – 429 Gore Street, Fitzroy.

CF Gallery is a photography gallery hosting exhibitions of contemporary photo-based art. It’s part of the Colour Factory.

Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive is a micro bookstore that shows self-published and independent photography books. The archive is not-for-profit and open-access, “a response to the boom in photographic self-publishing.” 395 Gore St, Fitzroy, open Thursday to Saturday 11-6pm.

Strange Neighbour is a contemporary art gallery that often shows photography. Founded in 2013 by Linsey Gosper and Ash Kerr. The gallery also has a rentable black & white darkroom plus separate artist studio on-site. 395–397 Gore St Fitzroy.

Centre for Contemporary Photography “is one of Australia’s premier venues for the exhibition of contemporary photo-based arts. It was established in 1986 by the photographic community as a not-for-profit exhibition and resource centre.” 404 George St, Fitzroy.

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Ebay camera 11

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A rare early Leica model B is being auctioned on ebay, bids start at $36,500. The camera was made in 1928 and is thus a fossil from the early years of 35mm still photography.

Compare it to the giant Anthony Climax camera from my other ebay post, where the studio stand also dates from 1928. You can see from this contrast the revolution that was happening in photography. The Anthony would require strong men to move it, the Leica fits in the palm of your hand.

It’s an impressive technical gadget, a boffin’s camera. Industrial design had not yet arrived at Leica; later designs where smoother and more ergonomic, sleek accessories for the well off. This one is a naked machine, it’s functioning parts indecently exposed.

No provenance is mentioned on ebay but you can imagine an intrepid photo-journalist using it in the early days of the picture magazines. Certainly the camera has not been sitting on a shelf all its long life, it has plenty of signs of use.  Oddly, in the case of Leica, that only increases its romance and hence its value, a measure of how mythic these cameras have become.

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Ebay camera 10

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Ebay is offering an extraordinary camera, the Anthony CLIMAX Portrait Ultra Large Format Studio Camera. The name CLIMAX seems appropriate.

According to the blurb, the camera was made in the late 1800s by the E & HT Anthony and Co of New York. The stand is from a different source, the Folmer Graflex company, makers of the legendary Speed Graphic press camera. It’s dated 1928.

You can order 11×14 film from Ilford so the camera is still useable. What a project it would be to take portraits with this piece of photographic artillery. Trouble is, it will set you back $13000. And that doesn’t include shipping.

 

Industrial Graffiti

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Christian Pearson, Return When Dry

Edmund Pearce Gallery is showing the work of Melbourne photographer Christian Pearson. Called Industrial Graffiti, it’s close ups of industrial sites he covers in his commercial photography practice. This is a well worn path, but Pearson’s images are strong and well-designed, and they look good in their brown wooden frames on the gallery walls.

Return When Dry is a good example of this “abstract-but-realist” space of photography. The subject itself as banal and quotidian as a thing can be, marks made during construction, but it’s beautiful in its way, and it it does remind you of Rothko’s abstract paintings, maybe this one.

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Hitchcock’s Lodger

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The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, 1927

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 silent film The Lodger is regarded as the first true Hitchcock film, “the first time Hitchcock has revealed his psychological attraction to the association between sex and murder, between ecstasy and death.” It’s the story of an innocent man mistaken for a serial killer, a young woman who falls for him, her suspicious parents, a jealous lover and the police.

A new BFI restoration of this important film shows the cinematography by Baron Ventimiglia with its original colour tinting and it’s all startlingly beautiful.

Right back to the time of Méliés at the start of the 20th century, films were tinted by hand, sometimes frame-by-frame. This gave a beauty and warmth to the prosaic tones of black & white, but it was laborious and expensive, especially since every print of a film had to be tinted this way. But in 1921 a new product arrived that changed the situation. “Kodak introduced pre-tinted stocks, with stained cellulose base, rather than a dyed emulsion upon the base. The colours available originally were lavender, red, green, blue, pink, light amber, dark amber, yellow, and orange.” 

By the late twenties, the tinted film was phased out due to cost and other reasons, but this version of Hitchock’s film is a memorial to that era. Before sound, movies had a more direct emotional impact on audiences and coloured scenes played their part in setting the audience’s mood.

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