Portraits, posters and the past

Street art and bill posting, deliver art to the streets romantically keeping artists hidden, inspiring ideas and encourage comment and debate. During Revela-T the streets of Vilassar de Dalt came alive, not only with people and photographers, but also photographic art.

Around the Biblioteca Can Manyer, a former factory restored to become a public library, portraits of former textiles workers who once labored in the local textile manufacturing industry graced the walls, in a tribute breaking the silence that follows economic restructuring and globalisation. All that is left, as the artist’s (Joglar & Kaesler) stated, is the thread poignantly woven into society from these long abandoned factories, of the interpersonal relationships created through work that builds communities in time and space,  and “generates experiences, haste, feelings, challenges, fears, friendships, joys…  modeling our personality.” The silent factories remain like “ships stranded in the streets of Vilassar” and conceal within the memories of hidden exertions, of toil, a once busy place, where now the portraits of those workers restored to the exterior walls of the old building uncover the anonymity of days past.

Elsewhere, in a decaying old shop come gallery, Els Rajolers,  the artist Juanan Requena had installed a lifetime of images, of memories, of an unconscious coming and going that is revealed by the tides of feeling and emotions, perhaps as vacation snaps uncover all that is left, the bare bones of a story or endeavour left in time, 10, 20, or even 50 years ago.

Nearby, on the exterior of a church along the Carrer Angel, bill posters were attached using starch and water asking the question “but who or what are we dealing with?” Perhaps when guerilla artists are revealed and we think we know who we are dealing with, it becomes easier to dismiss identities no longer hidden,  but subtexts and causes still remain at play.

What is it that is really being dealt with when portraits confront us on the street of former workers, by humorous or political posters on a church, or by abandoned factories or shops installed with exhibitions? Perhaps it is the voice and record of the past and those that work humbly in the shadows, never to hold the limelight except in our remembrances or struggle to maintain a future that can resonate in solidarity with their achievements of social justice and the communities they imagined, modeled and built for us, and where we live today.

June 2017 RevelaT AerochromeFPP 3
Retratos del Textil – Biblioteca Can Manyer
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Portrait of the artist Juanan Requena
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Silent ship – Fábrica de Cal Garbat
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Bill posters
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Serious faces (or, live long and prosper) – Revela-T team
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Hidden within

All photographs taken on colour infrared film using a Chamonix 4×5 view camera, a pinhole mounted in a Compur shutter, and a 6×7 roll film holder.

Cambridge, where the magic really happens…

It felt like the sun had barely risen, but I’d had breakfast, hopped on the Tube, got my rail tickets, bought a latte, visited a deserted Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station, and was soon on the 7:15am express to Cambridge, where the magic really does happen…

Cambridge is not just a university, or another English city nestled in green countryside, but a place of history, romance, learning and legend. Every step, every place, every sight,  has a story or name that inspires one’s imagination: whether it is link to the War of the Roses, or espying the initials of Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn together in King’s College Chapel that had escaped erasure; the clock that eats minutes, and worm holes leading to alternate realities in space time; gravestones in church yards of poets, fellows and members of secret societies; hints of spy rings and the presence of bohemian idealism; advancements in science and medicine leading to Nobel prizes; and, the quiet of study and contemplation.

Unexpectedly visiting London, after Barcelona, I touched base with internet photography friends in England suggesting that we meet up for a day of shooting, perhaps at Brick Lane. My friend Judith, was quite keen (adamant even) that I should visit Cambridge, and also soon had Juliette from Stansted and Alison from Leeds on their way as well.

Arriving at Cambridge, and after exchanging greetings, we headed off for a walking tour around the town and some of the colleges, with Judith as guide. Highlights included visiting King’s College Chapel, and St John’s College.

After lunch we visited the Ascension Parish Burial Ground where many well known former Cambridge fellows are buried. Judith had promised to show me the gravestone of one of my favourite modern philosophers and Cambridge Apostle, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Leaving the churchyard we headed out to Grantchester, with its meadows and Orchard popularised by the Neo-Pagan group of Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, E.M. Forster and Wittgenstein. As it was a fine Saturday afternoon, with exams finishing, many students were enjoying picnics, swimming or punting on the River Cam, or the Granta as it is also known.

Of course nothing says being in England more than an ale at a pub, followed by dinner, which is perhaps how all meet ups should conclude, or be celebrated. A little of the magic was captured with my Olympus OM-2 and Zuiko 50mm f1.4 lens, on some expired Kodak 200 film.

June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 24
Across fields of time
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 3
Distant towers
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 6
Clare Bridge
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 4
Clare College
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 5
Punts
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 9
Gate of Humility – Gonville and Caius College
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Chimneys along Trinity Street
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 11
The Great Gate – St John’s College
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Door
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Within
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 18
Where the magic happens
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 20
Cloisters
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New Court – St John’s College
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 21
Traffic at the Bridge of Sighs
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Vote Labour
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 28
Tombstone of the Apostle Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Swan and cygnets
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Grantchester meadows
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Ducks
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Punting
June 2017 Cambridge OM2 Kodak200 33
At rest

 

Celebrating Revela-T

Arriving in Barcelona for Revela-T 2017, I had little idea of what to expect. It is an incredibly long 28 hours by plane from Australia. The day after landing we headed out to Vilassar de Dalt early in the morning to hang the photos I was exhibiting at the Cal Garbat. Of course we got lost a little, had questions about paying bus fares, wandered the streets, and were found again. The exhibition space, an old abandoned factory we fell in love with. After meditating on the wall, and making a plan on how to hang my photos, we felt it was time for morning coffee, being still a little on Sydney time. With Melody, my partner’s help, we rapidly installed the exhibit in time for the mid afternoon lunch break: now we were on Barcelona time.

Lunch of course was a celebration in itself, as are most things perhaps in Catalonia. Although in the previous year, I had a photo included in Revela-T as part of the Next Best Thing Pinhole Project and many pinholers attended, it seemed just too far at that time. I had been recovering from heart failure, and always want to make the most of travel with a rigorous pace. Little did I realise that even this time, on returning to Australia blood tests showed that I was a little hypothyroid during these travels again and needed adjustments to my medications. Notwithstanding, no one ever wants to rust away by becoming moribund, so perhaps it is better to burn out a little, seize the day and enjoy the celebration of life, people, places, food, wine and photography.

And Revela-T is not just a photographic exhibition but all of those things, a festival bringing together a community passionately celebrating image making based in chemical processes from film to wet plate, daguerreotypes to instant film, cyanotypes to caffeine development, with lenses and without, from small to large formats and beyond. It is place to share stories, experiences, learn, to discover new friends, catch up with old friends and meet those known from across the internet, to listen to artists talk about their work, to enjoy the town of Vilassar de Dalt with its unique heritage, and perhaps more importantly to enjoy the photographic life that this analog fiesta celebrates.

I feel incredibly grateful to have had some of my photographs chosen to be exhibited at Revela-T, to have been unhidden, discover Catalonia and Spain, and be able to share the passion of those participating me in these images taken with my Olympus-OM2 on colour infrared film.

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Winter haiku

Winter comes –
I see it in my face,
days grow shorter.

June 2016 ShellharbourPoint 045F1 Fomapan100 Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160) 8
Fault lines

Light is white
Except when it’s black
– clouds are grey.

June 2016 ShellharbourPoint 045F1 Fomapan100 Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160) 9
Intersection

Lines, lines, lines.
Lines radiate from my eyes
– laughter lines

June 2016 ShellharbourPoint 045F1 Fomapan100 Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160) 5
Tessellations

All photos taken on the rock shelf at Shellharbour using a Chamonix 045F1 View Camera, Wollensak Velostigmat W.A. Ser. III f/9.5 6-1/4inch lens, on Fomapan 100, and developed in a mix of Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160).

Falls

Waterfall Creek meanders quietly through stands of salmon coloured angophoras, white scribbly gums and gymea lilies with their towering red flowers in spring, before dropping twice over the sandstone escarpment at National Falls to the rainforest far below.

May 2016 NationalFalls 045F1 Delta100 Ro9(1.50) 2
Scribbly gum and gymea lily

Late in the afternoon shadows descend quickly under the escarpment, while on the plateau, by chance the sun picks out a tree or lily to highlight with its rays before falling beneath the horizon in the west.

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Ferns and stream

Looking east from the edge, I imagine the early morning glow bathing the sandstone cliffs and falls, as I peer under its shining steps into the gloom.

May 2016 NationalFalls 045F1 Delta100 Ro9(1.50) 5
Shining steps

Fading light only deepens the vertiginous illusion that I too might fall like water to the sun.

May 2016 NationalFalls 045F1 Delta100 Ro9(1.50) 4
Vertigo

Photos taken with Chamonix 045F1 View Camera, Goerz Celor 7 inch f/4.5 (top photo) and Gundlach 5×8 Korona Anastigmat f/6.3 lenses, on Ilford Delta 100 film, and developed in RO9(1.50).

In the redwoods

“Won’t you keep us from all harm
Wonderful redwood tree” – Van Morrison

It is hard not to imagine a journey through northern California, Oregon, Monterey, the Big Sur coast, and San Francisco without considering the influence of historical and cultural topographies. There are many possible routes: from the pioneers of the Oregon trail, to the paths of Kerouac and the Beats, modernist photographers such as the Westons or Adams, and musicians of the 60’s and 70’s that celebrated these places in their lyrics, influencing our consciousness.

March 2016 USA 045F1 TMY2 Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160) 6
Early morning after rain

I hadn’t expected however that in Orgeon and northern California there would be such strong legacies and remembrances of the depression programs of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Friends insisted that we should travel to Mt Hood and see the Timberline lodge with its incredible architecture, artworks, and tribute to job creation at a time of such economic need.

March 2016 USA 045F1 TMY2 Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160)
Presence

Driving down the Oregon coast we crossed several bridges which owed their construction to the vision of FDR, and in the redwoods at Prairie Creek his influence in conservation and tree planting programs is still celebrated. The broader community effort to preserve and save the redwood forests of northern California nearly 100 years ago today seems remarkable, yet today when we visit the USA it is the parks, forests and wilderness that attract us, and motivate others to conservation elsewhere in the world.

March 2016 USA 045F1 TMY2 Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160) 1
Redwoods and sword ferns
March 2016 USA 045F1 TMY2 Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160) 2
In the light

These quiet forests, with majestic groves deep within are places of incredible beauty and peace. Walking through Stout Grove I placed my hand on a redwood, felt the bark with my palm, and acknowledged my small age next to its. We worry about the things that might make us, or our age and nations great, yet some of these trees have witnessed much of recorded human history, and many have lived since at least the invention of the printing press. Their almost infinite presence gives us hope that we can live through harm, find hope and healing.

March 2016 USA 045F1 TMY2 Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160) 6 (1)
Redwood stand
March 2016 USA 045F1 TMY2 Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160) 8
Late afternoon

All photos taken with Chamonix 045F1, Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S 150mm, on Delta 100 and developed in a mix of Xtol(1.3)+RO9(1.160).

Fragments

Pounded by wild seas, cast upon rocks, and pushed high by storms, coves around Bass Point fill with shells. Some are whole, but most are fragments. Pieces are broken, and eroded by successive tides, revealing the patterns and structures of different species living by the sea.

An arabesque swirl catches my eye, as does the disk with a spiral, that differs from circles shining, unbreakable structures inside a barnacle, or wings remaining, and the surprise of a branch with leaves attached dried in the sun.

Every fragment, a memory of a past life or being. Each piece and pattern reminds me of my own existence, and the structures that shape my mind and spirit.

Jan 2016 BassPoint 045F1 Fomapan100 Xtol(1.3)+paRodinal(1.160) 7
Arabesque fragment
Jan 2016 BassPoint 045F1 Fomapan100 Xtol(1.3)+paRodinal(1.160) 11
Disk
Jan 2016 BassPoint 045F1 Fomapan100 Xtol(1.3)+paRodinal(1.160) 10
Inner circle
Jan 2016 ShellFragments 045F1 Fomapan100 Xtol(1.3)+paRodinal(1.160) 1
Unbreakable
Jan 2016 ShellFragments 045F1 Fomapan100 Xtol(1.3)+paRodinal(1.160) 3
Wings
Jan 2016 ShellFragments 045F1 Fomapan100 Xtol(1.3)+paRodinal(1.160) 4
Branch

All photos taken using a Chamonix 045F1, with Rodenstock Ysaron 75mm lens, on Fomapan 100 film, and developed in a mix of Xtol(1.3)+paRodinal(1.160).