This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – it’s all about photobooks! Paul Blackmore’s HEAT launches in Melbourne on Saturday at Fox Darkroom & Gallery, Andrew Chapman’s Woolsheds 2 launches in Melbourne on Thursday 14 November at Magnet, and David Wadelton’s Suburban Baroque. Read on…
Books, glorious books!
As happens most years, in the last few weeks of the year I tend to post about photobooks. Partly it is because the holiday season is approaching and that is the time when I go offline and can immerse myself in my favourite pastime, reading – words and pictures. Photobooks make great gifts too!
Last week I wrote about the Light Collective’s Black and Blue: Coal or Coral. The week before it was Paul Kitagaki Jr’s brilliant Behind Barbed Wire.
And so to this week’s selection…
LAUNCH: Paul Blackmore – HEAT
HEAT, the new book from Sydney-based photographer Paul Blackmore launches in Melbourne tomorrow (Saturday 9 November) at the Fox Darkroom and Gallery (shame Paul is not bringing the heat with him! Melbourne is in the grip of a spring cold snap).
Paul will be there to talk about HEAT and I am going to give a reading.
Come along… to whet your appetite here are some images.
4.30pm Saturday, Fox Darkroom and Gallery, Level 2, Suite 205/10B Elizabeth St, Kensington
LAUNCH: Andrew Chapman – Woolsheds 2
Renowned photographer Andrew Chapman’s latest book, Woolsheds 2, produced in conjunction with ABC Landline’s Tim Lee, launches next week on Thursday at Magnet Galleries. The first edition sold out, so get in quick.
Woolsheds 2 might seem like a book about, well, woolsheds, but it is so much more. For decades, Australia literally lived off the sheep’s back. We were celebrated around the world for the quality of our wool and of course the wool industry was a major economic contributor. There is so much rich history in these images, but of course there are plenty of contemporary stories too as the wool sector is in resurgence. Great to see the female shearers at work – if you have ever watched a sheep being shorn, it’s like a wrestling match. That’s seriously hard work!
Thursday 14 November 6pm
Magnet Galleries Melbourne
SC G19 Wharf Street Docklands
David Wadelton – Suburban Baroque
David Wadelton has been documenting his own suburb of Northcote for decades. In Suburban Baroque he’s broadened his focus to encompass the northern suburbs of Melbourne including Reservoir, Coburg, Preston, and Thornbury.
These are some of the suburbs that became unique cultural hubs where post-war immigrants from Europe made their homes. The houses in these suburbs were ornate, their marble balustrades, crystal chandeliers, elaborate wallpapers and noisy carpets proof of success in the new country. They also contained emblems of nostalgia, a longing for what was left behind.
As you move through the book it is obvious that Wadelton’s photographs are not just documents of evidence, they are portraits for the imagination. They invite you to think about who might have lived here, what the conversations around the dinner table might have been, and how delicious the feasts prepared in these kitchens were.
In the pages of Suburban Baroque are the stories of the people who lived in these houses, who turned these structures into homes and infused them with personality. Even though there are no people pictured, there is a clear sense that we are looking into others’ lives. These pictures talk of the idiosyncratic and are rich with the essence of those who lived here.
It is a voyeuristic, and fascinating act to peer inside the homes of strangers, but Wadelton’s pictures help this trespass to feel less about intrusion and more about visiting a long lost, eccentric aunt. I remember as a child looking in wonder from the outside at these ornate structures with their soaring columns, Greek fountains and garden sculptures. Now with these pictures I can peek inside.
The design of the book with its sumptuous gold trim evokes an era now past, not just a time of opulence and over the top decor, but when a house was a home for life.
Many of these pictures were taken in 2017 and 2018 when these houses were on the market, although they look as though they were taken in the sixties and seventies. Thanks to Wadelton, these images will preserve a time in Melbourne’s history that will be remembered long after the wrecker’s ball has levelled these houses to make way for the homogenous architecture of today.