January 30, 2010

A world stopped turning

On the horizon of a world stopped turning the real world meets the dream world. Two sisters awake from a dream (or asleep from reality?) to find the sun frozen one point above setting. Time shifts or does not shift. It's hard to tell in silence. The older girl holds a book in her hand, remembers reading poems aloud in a car, words matching the winding country roads, driving towards nothing in particular. Recollections of the afternoon's tv shows, the smell of cabbage burning and the buzz of cicadas that matched the buzz of her computer screen hot from so many games. But how long ago was that? Her little sister watches in silence as she opens the book.
Perhaps the answers are inside. But she doesn't know the questions.
"The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms"
~TS Eliot

January 27, 2010

140Hours Haitian Relief Auction

140Hours, the online art auction, is raising funds to help Haiti through a major auction taking place this Friday. Artists are donating works and 100% of the proceeds are being donated to the International Medical Corps. Here is some information from the website on how International Medical Corps uses the money donated:

"International Medical Corps' Emergency Response Team is on the ground in Haiti, focusing on providing lifesaving medical care and relief to survivors of this devastating earthquake. We need your help to work as quickly as possible while lives can still be saved.

$200 ships $2,500 worth of life saving medicines and medical supplies to help our Emergency Response Team provide critically needed care.

$100 buys water filtration systems that would provide clean, safe drinking water to at least 3 families.

$25 helps fully immunize one child under the age of 5 and protect him or her from illness.

$10 provides hygiene kits to 2 people to help protect them from sanitation-related illnesses, and provide a basic level of comfort and dignity.

The response draws on 25 years of experience in emergency settings, including last September's earthquake in Sumatra, Indonesia, and the massive 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.

Already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti struggles with widespread poverty with 70 percent of its population living on less than two dollars a day."

This cause speaks for itself and I have donated my image 'Joy' from The Outsiders series.

It is printed on Canvas at 16x16inches and is stretched and ready to hang.

Bidding opens Friday 29th January at 9pm US EST (New York time) and goes for 48 hours. More information can be found on the 140 hours home page: www.140hours.com

If art isn't your thing (!!!) you can also donate directly by going straight to the International Medical Corps website.

This is a great way to help an extremely important cause.

January 13, 2010

On the Walls

I love street art and it is one of the reasons I am drawn to Berlin as there is a different street art character, statement or design on every corner. Works by international and local artists such as Alias, Prost, El Bocho, Kripoe & Bimer can be found all over the city, particularly in Kreuzberg*.

Photography displayed on the streets, however, is harder to come by. Perhaps this is because it is too easy to identify people from a photograph or perhaps because it is just too 'real'.
The closest things I've seen (apart from one small row of photographs on a Neukölln side street) are stencils made from photographs. So, on my last day in Berlin I was delighted when I came across this very open air exhibition of photojournalism on the wall of the Rauchhaus in Kreuzberg.

The images themselves are depictions of violence, brutality, despair and political passion. Not your usual public art display. There are no descriptions of exactly what the images depict so the viewer is forced to make up their own mind about the images. Painted below one of the images is a website address for the artists. There I discovered that the work was by a group of French photojournalists called Bon Pied Bon Oiel (Good Foot Good Eye) and they had exhibited this series of images in several other cities as well. The work was displayed in Berlin as part of 'The Knot Festival' in May 2009 so it is lasting quite well. Despite (or maybe because of) the graphic content of the images there is very little evidence of vandalism.

I am very interested in alternative ways of showing work and what I like about this exhibition is that it is uncensored and engages with the real world, rather than only being available to people with time to visit a white-walled gallery. Being on the street it is ready for a conversation- people can manipulate, vandalize, write on, add to or destroy it. It isn't precious.

* Berlin Street Art Safari by Kriebel (blog post) is an excellent starting point for learning more about the Berlin street art scene.

January 8, 2010

Reflections on Reflections

I am delighted to announce that one of my favourite images is going up for auction in a few hours. My image, simply titled, 'Reflections I' was photographed in 2007 and in 2008 was part of the series that won me '2008 Queensland Photographic Artist of the Year'. The series is the first one where I really felt I was starting to get somewhere with my art in terms of exploring ideas and themes.

Again, like many of my other works, I was heavily influenced by my dreams. Most of my dreams are set in the twilight hours, often overcast, heavy, brooding. I wanted to create this feeling of dramatic tension, a feeling that the apocalypse is either nigh or has just passed, a sense that time is standing still and the future and the past are captured in one moment. Reflections was an exploration of impermanence, of decay and the transient nature of time.

The work was shot in a car yard belonging to a friend's father (their back yard really) and I was intrigued by the histories embedded in each car. The friend told me stories about who the cars had belonged too - there were stories of death and violence as well as youthful exuberance - the kind of stories that can only be told of lives in small country towns.

I began shooting the work spontaneously. I remember being completely transfixed by how many reflections and layers were perceivable on the many surfaces- windows, mirrors, glass. I could see what was in front of me, behind me, beyond the car on the other side and various angles of reflections. I used the camera to flatten and capture what I saw. What greatly interested me was the trees that overshadowed the abandoned cars. They seemed to signify that 'this too shall pass' and I was reminded of the battle between nature and the man-made. Here it seemed nature was winning as the cars were rusting over and filled with spiders (I'm sure some also had snakes living in them). As I photographed I remember feeling my brain switch from one state to another- my pulse quickened, my senses were heightened and everything outside me, the camera in my hands and what I was looking at ceased to exist. I was completely in the moment.

Through critiques of this work I was introduced to the work of Bill Henson (recently famed for having his work censored in Melbourne 2008). I fell in love with the way he used light, particularly twilight with its sense of impending darkness. His works, to me, also have that sense of a captured dream. Future works were influenced by what I found in his images.

One image in the series is the reflection of a young male in an abandoned television set. I was interested in the confusion that the double shadow caused adding to the dream-like quality of the images. The male is Joseph Campbell's Fool, the mythological archetype present in so many narratives, the hero that represents humanity.

I have been asked whether the works were created in Photoshop - some people assumed that I had layered images of trees onto the cars - but no, the images are as shot with only basic adjustments to colour and contrast in Photoshop as is usual.

Reflections I (top image) goes up for auction at 9pm EST 8th January and ends 9pm January 10th (48hours). The opening bid is $150US - only in the auction will it be available at this price (Normal price $260US). It is numbered 1 of 20 and is printed on Archival Photo Rag paper at a size of 45x30cm (approx 18"x12").

To bid click here (clear your cache if the wrong image appears)

To view the rest of the series click here

January 1, 2010

The Year that was 2009

It seems an impossible task to describe how amazing this year has been, even harder as my concentration is constantly broken by exploding fireworks as Neukölln residents get warmed up for tonights celebrations. It is still daylight and the snow is thick on the ground.

I guess I will start at the beginning...

Sunrise New Year's Day. I sat on a hill along with hundreds of hippies, free spirits and music lovers at the Woodford Folk Festival. Cheers went up as the sun broke over the horizon and metres from me a male my age, stood up sky-clad and blew on a traditional horn. Laughter followed at the unexpected act. This was the start of my year.

A week later I was on a plane to India, somewhat nervous as it was so soon after the Mumbai attacks. My sister and I were there to participate in a program called 'Discover Your Potential' run by the Girl Guides & Girl Scouts Association. There we worked with an orphanage. 36 children aged between 3 and 16 lived in one small room watched over by one very caring lady. We brightened up their room with a wall mural which I helped to design and invited them to the Guide centre where they were able to play games and go swimming- something very unusual for them. We also built a garden at Ishwari, a women's centre in Rural India and there I met Sister Rosaria whom I wrote about earlier.

Above: Outside the Orphanage after sanding off the existing paint to make way for the mural
Above: Helping at a Creche. It was here I learnt the shocking differences between education of the rich and poor and especially how poorly educated girls are. School is free in India yet uneducated parents still don't think it important to send their girls to school. The girls will only get the very basic education that the creche provides.

For the following months I was very active in Girl Guides and this was very fulfilling and also challenging. Highlights were taking our Unit camping, Leadership training, canoeing training and giving talks along with my sister about our experiences in India at major Guiding events.

A long held goal was to have an exhibition at the Queensland Centre for Photography and this was achieved with the exhibition of my series Archimedes Field in July.

Two days after the opening it was off to Europe with my partner for a six week journey around almost all the major European cities. The highlight by far was the nine days spent in the Greek Islands. I have never laughed so hard in my life or had so much silly fun. I met many wonderful and intelligent people and it seemed like there was never going to be a tomorrow, that the fun would never end.

Above: Paros, Greece

I had planned to settle in Frankfurt Main with my partner but I was restless there and things weren't going well between us. Another thing that bothered me was that in the six weeks we had travelled we had met mostly only Australians. I knew the remedy to this and headed off on my own to Poland and Couchsurfed with locals who were kind, generous and gave me a truly honest experience of Poland (the good and the bad). I even hitchhiked from Lublin to Warsaw with one of these hosts which was something I never thought I would do.

After that I headed to Berlin and if you have read my blog you know the rest. Berlin feels like home to me for a million reasons.

I had my first white Christmas in a small town in Germany and I could easily describe it as a story book Christmas: Snowmen, snowball fights, piano playing while the dog warmed itself by the fire, games of charades, cookie baking, singing songs around a real Christmas tree. As an Australian who has no memory of seeing real snow (apparently I saw some at 6months old) it is very exciting for me. I am very grateful to my friend and her family for allowing me to share in their Christmas celebrations.

Above: A few Christmas moments, Armenian Cognac, peace and our snow woman

Some of my favourite moments where I knew I was truly alive:
  • Rickshaw riding in Pune, India. Enough said.
  • Canoeing on a lake on a moonlit night along with many other strong and independant women. The lake was so calm that the stars were reflected in the water.
  • Cliff-jumping at the Isle of Paros (Greece). I am petrified of heights but I did it anyway and I did it WRONG despite being told that it was impossible to get it wrong. I smacked into the water on my thigh and it was the worst pain and probably the most hideous injury I have ever done to myself but I got up and did it again the right way.

Above: My spectacular Cliff Jump and the accompanying bruise just as it was starting to come up. Later it went black.
  • In the Greek Islands, at 4am in the morning running home from Ios party central to the camp and falling backwards down a hill because of the stupidest thing I ever did (but I'm keeping that a secret). I landed safely in some thorny bushes but still laugh when I think of it. Life must have it's comedy!
  • At the summit of a mountain in Zakopane, Poland- drinking Wodka with two Polish Policemen.
  • In Warsaw, Poland. At 7:30 in the morning I sat on a park bench, a little bit lost but feeling truly free, more free than I have ever felt before. I had just two small backpacks and no plans at all. At that moment I didn't have any agenda for the future, I didn't know where I would sleep that night or even what city I would sleep in. I was completely alone and completely happy. I realized that I never wanted to have as many 'things' as I used to. It is true that what you own owns you. I think that was also the moment I decided to move to Berlin and pursue my creative ambitions.
  • Walking around Berlin alone at 3am in the morning, getting lost in the Red Light District, drinking Prosseco with random Germans who tried to give me directions all the while feeling 100% sure of myself that I could find my way home.
The year has not been without it's pain. I find myself single for the first time in eight years after a five and a half year relationship had a slow, pro-longed and painful death. But it is for the best and we still remain friends.

In November I challenged myself with a new project exploring alienation and technology. For the first time I photographed people for a conceptual work. I was previously too shy to do so despite the fact that I am also a wedding and portrait photographer. But more about this project in the new year.

2009 has been a year of intense personal growth for me and I have become much more independant than I ever have been, much more self-assured, much more honest and much more determined to live my life my own way and not by anyone else's standards.

Above: Happy, ferry from Ancona to Greece

Yes, I think 2009 has been the best year of my life.

Here's to saying yes to dreams and a wonderful 2010!
Happy New Year!!