My life underwent a dramatic change of direction when I went to art college. I started at East Sydney Tech (now the National Art School). I was forty-one years old; the other students were pretty much straight from high school. I faced quite a deal of staff opposition to my enrolment because I had nothing to show ‘from my own hand’, i.e., drawings, sketches, paintings . . . whatever. I argued that while I had none of these I hoped that something from my mind or imagination might get me in. (Photographs somehow didn’t fit the bill.)
I was accepted on a previously unheard of probationary basis. I am deeply indebted for this outcome to a friend who was, and still is, a prominent gallery owner and a another artist friend, both of whom I met through the Darlinghurst Residents Action Group. Neither ‘put in a word’ for me, but more importantly they encouraged me to make my own case for admission.
After completing foundation studies at East Sydney I transferred to Sydney College of the Arts. Prior to going to art college I already felt comfortable and reasonably competent as a photographer. The goal, at least in my heart, was to become a painter. (I remain a frustrated painter, which may be apparent in some of my images.)
My art teacher was less than encouraging, telling me along with other things, “oh, you don’t like Cezanne do you?”. As it happens I did like Cezanne despite it not being compulsory to do so.
I decided to stick with photography, but there was a problem; back then the National Art School didn’t teach photography beyond second year, and had no colour facilities.
At Sydney College of the Arts I learned at lot about art. I also realised that there was an expectation that we would set forth on a career as exhibiting artists. Having turned my back on a long career in the sales and marketing in the fashion industry I rebelled against the pressure of being an exhibiting artist. I didn’t want to be tied to a gallery with the expectation of ‘producing work’ on a reasonably regular basis. These days I think of myself as a photographer documenting my community.
I do enjoy going to galleries, especially public galleries. As well as appreciating the art there I usually find that I have comee away with images of the building housing the art.
Here are some examples: