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.