Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – 6 April 2018

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – Tim Webster’s wonderful book on Melbourne’s iconic Queen Victoria Market, plus Simon Harsent and Toby Burrows team up for a joint exhibition in Sydney, opening tonight.

Book Review:

Tim Webster – Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market

The Queen Vic, as it is fondly known, is a Melbourne icon. I remember shopping at the market when I lived in Clifton Hill in the eighties. Most Saturday’s we’d take a large backpack and fill it with vegetables and fruit, fabulous artisan cheeses and other goodies. Hot jam donuts were standard market breakfast for me, while my partner favoured  bratwurst and sauerkraut.

The sounds and the smells of the market, the vendors calling out their bargains, buying trays and boxes as they were thrown out cheap, watching the old men and women working as hard as the young as they tended their stalls, these are the memories that I have of the market. And in Tim Webster’s painstaking documentation, conducted over several years, these memories come alive.

7-Birthday
Birthday. “I love it in here. You just learn to get along because it’s not worth having a blue with the guy next door when you’re gonna see him every day.”
11-Bok-Choy-Delivery
Bok Choy Delivery. “Market gardening is intimately related to the city, and it’s progressively pushed out as the city grows.”
12-A-Shed
A Shed. “This place evolved the way it is because of the people. The seller and the buyer. That’s what makes it different to a lot of places.”
1-Early-Set-Up
Early Set Up, K-L Shed. “This market was built and laid out according to the spatial reality of an earlier century. That’s why it’s so refreshing to come here.”
8-A-Kick-of-the-Footy
A Kick of the Footy. “It’s a town around a city in here. Different cultures with that added flux where they can intermingle with each other.”
3-Spruiker
Spruiker. “They showed me a few tips and I watched some of the old blokes. You build up. It’s like makin’ a fire.”

 

It is the personal connection to the stories in Webster’s photographs, and the insights from the 180 or so interviews he has done, that makes this book so engaging. Most Melbournians know the Queen Vic market, and it is a great drawcard for tourists also. But beyond this familiarity, Webster’s photographs evoke a very human narrative that talks of the city’s ethnic diversity, the willingness to work hard and have a go, and the community that the market enfolds.

As Webster writes, “celebrating things that cannot be bought or sold, this book delights in small wonders of human spirit.” It is one of my favourite books.

Published by: Thames & Hudson

Exhibition: 

Simon Harsent – The Horizon Leans Forward &

Toby Burrows – Once on a Dirt Road at 87MPH 

Exhibimage

These two well-known photographers have come together in this exhibition, and limited edition book (which is on sale at the exhibition only). Opens tonight 6.30pm at the Gallery at the Hyatt Regency 161 Sussex Street, Sydney. Until 2nd May.

Untitled-1 stage1Untitled-3Untitled-5

Untitled-9
(C) All images Simon Harsent

To give context, here’s an excerpt from the book’s introduction:

Simon Harsent:

“Ten years ago, I embarked on a journey that would change the course of both my career and my life. I began a project born from an idea about how the decisions we make and the paths we take change not only our course in life, but also our destination.

The project was Melt: Portrait of an Iceberg.

At the time I had a very singular lookout regarding my final goal with the images.

I had spent a lot of time looking at Rothko paintings and, as always, was captivated by the division of colour and the use of composition and space. It was his black and grey series that really spoke to me and I always had this in the back of my mind when I was out on the water shooting the icebergs. I set myself certain rules for shooting: I wanted just sky, sea and iceberg – no other visual distractions.

It was always intended to be a book project as I wanted to control the narrative: from the massive icebergs in Disko Bay, to the remnants of these structures off the Coast of St John’s, Newfoundland. As I was editing the work, it became apparent that some pictures – although stunning images – didn’t fit into the larger body of work. I find this process heartbreaking sometimes, but it’s not always what we include in a body of work that matters, it’s what we leave out.

These images make up The Horizon Leans Forward. I knew I wanted to show them at some point, but I put them aside for ten years. I felt they needed a wide berth from Melt: they needed their own space. These photographs have a much more mysterious feel about them. They are the same icebergs, but seen on a different day. There’s a complexity to them that it’s hard for me to define and, in any case, I’m not sure I do I want to. My work has always been an expression that comes from within, the product of an innate sense of knowing what I want – call it a gut reaction.

Obviously there are reasons for doing the work I do and I have certain expectations of myself but, more often than not, I want the end result to offer a world of discovery to the viewer. I want people to have their own idea of what the work means to them. I don’t like coercing people, I take no pleasure in telling an audience that things are a certain way in order to validate the work.

Sometimes it needs to just exist.”

Bike
Bike (C) Toby Burrows
Car
Car (C) Toby Burrows
Landscape
Landscape (C) Toby Burrows
Pieta
Pietà (C) Toby Burrows

And from Dr. Lisa Cooper who collaborated with Toby Burrows:

“Once on a Dirt Road at 87MPH is a suite of photographs and a video-portrait by Australian photographer Toby Burrows. The central concern of the project is the fundamental principle of photography – darkness and light – explored through its function in religious and secular iconography.

The etymological origin of the word, ‘photography’, derives from a combination of two Greek words that translate to, ‘drawing’ and ‘light’ – ‘drawing with light’. Darkness and light are fundamental to the processes of photography and to the photographic image itself. The complementarity of darkness and light is observed across painting, poetry and the composition of music, perfume and flowers. Many cosmologies begin their accounts of Creation with the emergence of light out of an original darkness where impenetrable dark becomes the very source of light. They are qualified in rhythmic alternation, they are understood to be contingent.

The work of the English painter, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) was observed in the creation of these images. Toby has embarked upon an autobiographical portrayal of experience. Documenting obedience to natural force – submission to fire and light – upon retired ‘bodies’ from his personal life.

Objects that once elicited and sustained experience, mundane and profound; a ball, a motorbike, and a car (1961 Ford Falcon XL) are embalmed, cremated and finally ‘preserved’ by way of the photographic image.

Toby and I talk about how in both Michelangelo’s, Pietà (1475 –1564) and Arlington’s Pantera (1981–) there is darkness and there is light.”

The Gallery Hyatt Regency Sydney 161 Sussex Street

Until 2nd May

 

 

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