Walls, doors, windows and such

A friend recently asked me if I was familiar with the photographs of Grant Mudford, an Australian artist working in the US for many years. I first encountered Mudford’s work when I was at art college in the 80s. His photographs appealed to me immediately and still do. I think of Grant Mudford’s art as architectural abstraction. He photographs the detail in buildings we may not notice, such as small design features, the effect of shadows or lettering because of its aesthetic. The resulting image is isolated from its original context.
Over the years I have dabbled with abstraction in my photographs, though my approach is different to Mudfords. I search for the abstract in the post production phase. In some cases, while I find the whole building unpleasing I do find elements worth recording and subsequently rendering in a way I hope is pleasing.

Lampshade
Flinders Lane Melbourne

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Surveillance shadow Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
Brisbane

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External wall  GOMA Brisbane

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External wall  GOMA Brisbane

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Internal wall  GOMA Brisbane

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Glass wall GOMA Brisbane

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Interior National Gallery of Victoria at Federation
Square Melbourne

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Interior National Gallery of Victoria at Federation
Square Melbourne

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Interior National Gallery of Victoria at Federation
Square Melbourne

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Interior National Gallery of Victoria at Federation
Square Melbourne

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Interior National Gallery of Victoria at Federation
Square Melbourne

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Interior National Gallery of Victoria at Federation
Square Melbourne

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Interior National Gallery of Victoria at Federation
Square Melbourne

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Corrugated iron wall and door Camperdown Sydney

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Shop window under repair Melbourne

A walk by the Pacific Ocean

The other day I went for a walk from Coogee to Clovelly. These are two beaches along the Pacific Ocean coast of Sydney. We are fortunate to have about seventy beaches, approximately thirty-nine of these are ocean beaches. My walk started at Coogee, easily reached by bus from my home in Newtown. As well as the beach there are two ocean baths: Wylies and the Women’s Baths.

CoogeeClovelly 1
This lovely glade of Banksia trees is a great place to relax in the
shade, picnic, read, whatever.

CoogeeClovelly 2
On the day I went, the weather was perfect, if a bit unseasonal.
It’s meant to be Autumn here now, the temperature was around
30C/86F. The water was warm too at 22C/72F.
The long vertical ‘cloud’ is a vapour stream from an airplane.
Coogee Beach is located under one of the three main flight paths
to Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport.

CoogeeClovelly 3
This the entrance to a naturally occurring rock pool, at the base
of a Sydney Sandstone cliff face.

CoogeeClovelly 4
Because the ocean water coming into the pool is ‘filtered’ by
rocks it is generally very clear.

CoogeeClovelly 8

CoogeeClovelly 9

Two excellent examples of Sydney Sandstone at Coogee. The rock
is very soft and takes quite a pounding from the wind and high
tides. Art may imitate nature, but nature cannot imitate art.

CoogeeClovelly 6
Further along the walk is Gordon’s Bay, a beautiful sheltered bay.
It has an underwater nature trail signposted for SCUBA divers.
The bay is popular with people learning to dive.

CoogeeClovelly 7
The bay is home to the Gordon’s Bay Fishing Club.

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A poster illustrating the varieties of fish in Gordon’s Bay.

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Sydney Sandstone at Gordon’s Bay

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Clovelly Beach is  protected from wild weather so is popular with
people who want a passive swimming experience.

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Two examples of the sandstone around Clovelly Beach.
For more information about Sydney sandstone:

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/bioregions/SydneyBasin-Landform.htm

Artspeak didn’t satisfy but the trees did.

March is Art Month here in Sydney. There are gallery tours, studio tours and talks aplenty. Last evening I attended a debate in Kings Cross (as part of the Art Month program) called Contemporary Art Is A Joke. I have no view as to whether or not contemporary art, as a whole, is a joke. Some is intentionally a joke; some is unintentionally a joke. I left wondering if what I had just experienced was a joke. I didn’t feel humoured, though  the raucous laughter from the audience would suggest that I was the odd one out.

I won’t burden you with the details of the debate as this post is about how I felt. The venue was a Sydney City Council underground carpark in Kings Cross, which was, perhaps, a contemporary art joke. It was dark and gloomy. The ‘seating’ was a mixture of bum numbing folding chairs and milk crates guaranteed to impress upon one’s arse a fetching waffle welt. With my aching back and my funnybone remaining inactive I sulked off into the darkness of The Cross.

After the gloom of the carpark I needed air, if not fresh air (I was in Kings Cross), at least naturally occurring air. As I often do, I looked at the evening sky. Some trees caught my eye. I hadn’t realised that a garden sits on top of this carpark. It’s a lovely small park so I spent half an hour or so there in the fading light. To paraphrase a sign I saw many years ago at a country town nursery: When the world wearies  and art no longer satisfies, there are always the trees.

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I do like Cezanne

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:

AGNSW chairs
Art Gallery of New South Wales

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Preparation for an exhibition
Art Gallery of New South Wales

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Washbasin Art Gallery of New South Wales

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Pier 2/3 Walsh Bay Biennale of Sydney 2008

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Pier2/3 Walsh Bay Biennale of Sydney 2008

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Pier 2/3 Walsh Bay Biennale of Sydney 2008

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Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane

Venetian blinds MCA
Venetian blinds Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney

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Stairwell Ian Potter Centre at National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne

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Wall Ian Potter Centre National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne

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Reflection Ian Potter Centre National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne

White Rabbit 2
Wall White Rabbit Gallery Chippendale Sydney

How I became a photographer

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All images here were made by me and are an expression of my
‘way of seeing’, to borrow John Berger’s phrase. All images which
identify people were made with their permission.

My personal art practice is primarily photography, though
I have a general interest in visual art. My primary creative
commitment is to working in a community environment,
especially in Sydney’s Inner West where I have lived since 1981.
I graduated from Sydney College of the Arts (University of Sydney)
in 1983 with a BA (Vis Art);  Grad Dip (Vis Art).

As a child I wasn’t encouraged, either at home or at school,
to be interested in art. I didn’t go into an art gallery until I was
twenty-three years old and in Brussels. I was awe-struck to say
the least. I became interested in photography through a community
centre in East Sydney which had an unsophisticated dark room.

In 1976 I travelled to the UK, Europe, Central America and the US.
As I took more and more photos I began to realise that many were not
the tourist photos I had been used to seeing in people’s holiday albums
and at slide nights; many of my photos were not of monuments and
famous places one should visit and record. Without thinking too much
about it, I was, in some cases, making images which I found had something
‘extra’. Here are some of those photos from 1976 – 78, three years
before I went to art college.

Image

London 1976

Image
Image
Shop window Scotland

Scotland 1976

Chichen Itza 2

Chichen Itzá Mexico 1976

Religious shop 76

Mexico DF Mexico 1976

USA BW OLD CAR

Near Pigeon Forge TN USA 1977

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