Posts Tagged ‘Anna Briers

27
Aug
13

Exhibition: ‘Density’ by Andrew Follows, curated by Dr Marcus Bunyan, at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond

Exhibition dates: 27th August – 21st September 2013

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A wonderful exhibition by vision impaired photographer Andrew Follows at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond. It has been a real pleasure to mentor Andrew over the past year and to see the fruits of our labour is incredibly satisfying. The images are strong, elemental, atmospheric, immersive. Due to the nature of Andrew’s tunnel vision there are hardly any traditional vanishing points within the images, instead the ‘plane of existence’ envelops you and draws you in.

Well done to everyone involved with the project. I would particularly like to thank Fiona Cook from Arts Access Victoria for keeping the project on track; the amazing Darren from CPL Digital for his most excellent efforts to print the almost impossible print; Jondi Keane from Deakin University for opening the exhibition; Anna Briers for writing a wonderful catalogue essay; and Anita Traverso for believing in me and giving Andrew an exhibition when many wouldn’t. Many thankx and respect to all.

Now onto the next project!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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The photographs below appear in the order they are in the exhibition. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Density n.

The degree of optical opacity of a medium or material, as of a photographic negative;

Thickness of consistency;

Complexity of structure or content.

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Andrew Follows. 'Elevation, Doreen' 213

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Andrew Follows
Elevation, Doreen
213
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
130 cm x 86.5 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Number 31, Eltham' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Number 31, Eltham
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
130 cm x 86.5 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Green, Montsalvat' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Green, Montsalvat
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
130 cm x 86.5 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Shadowlife' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Shadowlife
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
130 cm x 86.5 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Garland, South Melbourne' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Garland, South Melbourne
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
40 cm x 27 cm

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dark-trees-WEB

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Andrew Follows
Indigo, Edenvale
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
130 cm x 86.5 cm

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The Mind’s Eye: Density in the Work of Andrew Follows

Anna Briers

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Seeing has never been about the simple act of looking. It can be defined by the parameters of our past experience and cognitive stock, factors which enable, inhibit and shape our perceptive abilities. Ultimately, our ways of seeing are affected by our learnt cultural assumptions about the universe.1

Cultural theorist James Elkins has said, ‘blindness is not the opposite of vision, but it’s constant companion, and even the foundation of seeing itself.’2 In his seminal text The Object Stares Back, Elkins illustrates that we are blind to the limits of our own vision and that this unknowingness about our visual fallibilities is crucial to ordinary seeing. This blindness relates to a hierarchy of vision, defined not only by our psychological limitations but our physiological ones as well – the selection process that we employ to filter the vast proliferating output of information that we are inundated with on a daily basis. Without which, we would probably experience a kind of cerebral meltdown.

If vision is dependent on a certain amount of blindness, then by extension the notion that a photographic image can accurately document the truth is a misconception. The camera is not simply a black box that can correctly capture a quotation of reality, a machine of ‘logic and light’,3 for the act of taking a photograph is reliant on the careful selection and framing of a particular object or subject. The result of this point of view is the depiction of a subjective reality at the exclusion of everything else which is made invisible: eliminated by the perimeters of the frame.

In this context, it is interesting to consider the work of legally blind photographer Andrew Follows. Follows has a degenerative condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) that has rendered one eye completely blind with ever diminishing tunnel vision in the other. Follows can perceive three meters ahead, albeit through an obscuring haze. The clarity of his vision is dependent on lighting and various environmental factors; objects are often more perceptible at night. Whilst form and structure are apparent, he cannot see the intricate tonal details of a stained glass window. He cannot know that the colour of your scarf is royal blue. All this changes however, when Follows observes light flooding through the lens of a camera.

Through the small rectangular viewing panel on the reverse of a digital camera, Follows’ world is revealed. He is able to discern architectural detail and the vibrancy of nature; he is able to know that his favourite shade in the vast tonal spectrum is royal blue. In a realisation of Marshall McLuhan’s notion of the camera as a prosthetic extension,4 Follows’ camera extends his sight, and through it he is able to capture his unique vision, for a moment or for a millennia, a physical expression of the imaginings of his mind’s eye.

Curated by Dr Marcus Bunyan, the concept of Density was envisaged as a point of departure to explore the manifold variations and subsequent ruminations on the term as it relates to Follows’ perspective. As a technical descriptive, density explains the degree of optical opacity within a photographic negative. Portions of film that have been exposed to greater amounts of light yield a greater deposit of reduced silver. This is referred to as having a higher density than areas of shadow.5

Density also denotes a thickness of consistency and many of Follows’ works exhibit a complexity of compositional structure and content that elucidates the nature of Follows’ perception. ‘Even in the physicality of my vision, these photographs have a certain feeling that reflects my relationship to the world and how I visualise it.’6 A thematic constant that binds this series together is the shallow depth of field that is combined with a sense of the frame or the foreground being the view. Follows’ images, and therefore our view into his world is a restricted one. As the viewer we must frequently gaze through a kind of haze or obstruction in order to participate.

A pivotal example of this is Elevation, Doreen, 2013, where the composition is segmented by the skeletal structure of the wooden and steel supports of a building. Intersecting diagonals and verticals delineate and contain space across the picture plane, framing the mid-ground and background within its architecture. It is not the vista that is of interest to Follows.

This image cannot escape the requisite art historic parallels with movements such as the Russian Constructivists or De Stijl with its ‘Mondrian-esque’ all over composition. However the image speaks of interiority, its emphasis is on the foreground and by drawing our attention to the mechanics of how the view is framed we are made conscious of the act of seeing. There is a layering or doubling that occurs here: Follows makes us aware of the limitations of our own vision, through the act of looking – by revealing his unique vision, as a result of partial blindness.

Similarly, Void, Eltham, 2013, leaves us grasping for some semblance of illumination and visual clarity within a desolate and dimly lit car park. While our eye is guided across the picture plane by white lines and columns that recede into space, our view is ultimately obstructed by a concrete barrier covered in territorial markings and thus, we are reminded of the limitations of our own vision as we are left to gaze into the dense abyss.

A thematic constant in Follows’ images such as No. 31 Eltham, 2013, is that they resist a singular point of perspective as evidenced by early Renaissance painters where everything was centred on the eye of the beholder; the visible world arranged for the spectator as the universe was once thought to be arranged for God.7 By contrast, many photos evidence a planar sense of spatiality. Often lacking in a noticeable vanishing point, his images have an immersive potential and we are drawn into the various densities within Follows’ shallow depth of field. This is exemplified by the rich textures of Scarp face, Beechworth, 2013, and the lush grassland depicted in Green, Montsalvat, 2013.

Many of the photographs in Density instill a quiet contemplative mood that is partially evoked by a muted tonal palette. Yet within this visionary series the viewer can also bear witness to the reoccurrence of otherworldly imagery, as well as transient and transformational spaces. This sense is further enhanced by the fact that Follows’ photographs are often shot at times when the light is fleeting, on the interstice of night and day. This is exemplified by Green on Blue, 2013, where Follows captures a train in motion, conveying a temporality and flux that eloquently describes a state of transience: of being between spaces, neither here nor there.

With Judges Chair, Beechworth, 2013, Follows conveys the courtroom where infamous Australian Bushranger Ned Kelly was committed to stand trial for murder, prior to his eventual hanging in 1880. The image pervades an institutional formality that is intensified by a classically balanced composition, combined with ominous historical undertones. Yet the space depicted is interrupted by the glimmer of an ethereal light that bolts across the far wall, puncturing the image. Alternative possibilities become illuminated and a sense of otherworldliness becomes palpable.

Hillock No’s 1-3, Windsor, conveys the everyday subject matter of a BMX bike park. Photographed at night utilising the urban ambience of streetlights, the mounds of earth are lit by unearthly glow. Under the gaze of Andrew Follows, the site is infused with an eerie quality. No longer a metropolitan playground, it resembles the desertous territories of an alien landscape, perhaps on some other planetary body or far distant moon.

As Elkins said, blindness is not the opposite of sight, but it’s constant companion. It is therefore, not sight that is required to take a great photograph – it is vision. By using the camera as a prosthetic extension through which he is able to perceive and frame the universe, Follows’ photographs expound the limitations and fallibilities of our own ways of seeing. Moreover, he is able to reveal to us the uniqueness of his subjective view – forged from the rich imaginings of his mind’s eye.

Anna Briers independent writer and curator, Melbourne 2013

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Endnotes

1. Berger, John. Ways of seeing: based on the BBC television series. London: British Broadcasting Corporation; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972, p. 11.

2. Elkins, James. The object stares back: on the nature of seeing. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

3. Elkins, James. What photography is. New York: Routledge, 2011

4. McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding media: the extensions of man. London: Routledge, 2001. p. 210.

5. Adams, Ansel. The negative: exposure and development. Hastings-on-Hudson, N. Y.: Morgan & Morgan, 1968.

6. Quote drawn from artist’s statement.

7. Berger, Op. cit., p. 16.

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Andrew Follows. 'Green on blue' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Green on blue
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
157.3 cm x 86.5 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Scarp face, Beechworth' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Scarp face, Beechworth
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
30 cm x 30 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Judge's Chair, Beechworth' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Judge’s Chair, Beechworth
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
90 cm x 60 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Void, Eltham' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Void, Eltham
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
90 cm x 60 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Hillock No.1, Windsor' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Hillock No.1, Windsor
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
130 cm x 86.5 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Hillock No.2, Windsor' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Hillock No.2, Windsor
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
130 cm x 86.5 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Hillock No.3, Windsor' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Hillock No.3, Windsor
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
130 cm x 86.5 cm

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Andrew Follows. 'Torso, Eltham' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Torso, Eltham
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
14 cm x 20 cm

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Density Logos

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Anita Traverso Gallery
7, Albert Street
Richmond, Vic 3121

Opening hours:
Wed – Sat 11 – 5

Anita Traverso Gallery website

Andrew Follow website

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02
Aug
13

Invitation to opening: ‘Density’ by Andrew Follows, curated by Dr Marcus Bunyan at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne

Date: Saturday 31st August 2013, 3.30 – 5pm

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I welcome all friends to the opening of the first exhibition I have curated since the completion of my Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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density n.

the degree of optical opacity of a medium or material, as of a photographic negative; thickness of consistency; complexity of structure or content.

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You are cordially invited to the opening of Density, a solo exhibition of photographs by Andrew Follows on Saturday 31st  August 3.30 – 5pm at The Anita Traverso Gallery, 7 Albert Street Richmond, Victoria.

The works premiered in this exhibition are the culmination of a mentorship between Dr Marcus Bunyan and Andrew Follows, supported by Arts Access Victoria as part of the Boost Pathways Program.

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“Curated by Dr Marcus Bunyan, the concept of Density was envisaged as a point of departure to explore the manifold variations and subsequent ruminations on the term as it relates to Follows’ perspective. As a technical descriptive, density explains the degree of optical opacity within a photographic negative. Portions of film that have been exposed to greater amounts of light yield a greater deposit of reduced silver. This is referred to as having a higher density than areas of shadow. Density also denotes a thickness of consistency and many of Follows’ works exhibit a complexity of compositional structure and content that elucidates the nature of Follows’ perception.”

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Anna Briers. “The Mind’s Eye: Density in the Work of Andrew Follows.” Catalogue essay 2013

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Curator: Dr Marcus Bunyan
Guest Speaker: 4pm Dr Jondi Keane, Senior Lecturer Deakin University
Artists Floor Talk: 3pm Saturday 7 September
Preview from Tuesday 27 August
Exhibition until Saturday 21 September
Gallery Hours Wed-Sat 11-5 + by appointment

The Opening will be Auslan Interpreted and the exhibition will be Audio Described.

Rsvp to Anita Traverso Gallery 9428 7557 art@anitatraversogallery.com.au

Please click on the images below for a larger version.

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Andrew Follows. 'Density' invitation 2013

Andrew Follows. 'Density' invitation 2013

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Andrew Follows
Density invitation
2013

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Andrew Follows. 'Density' catalogue cover 2013

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Andrew Follows
Density catalogue cover
2013

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Anita Traverso Gallery
7, Albert Street
Richmond, Vic 3121

Opening hours:
Wed – Sat 11 – 5

Anita Traverso Gallery website

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13
Feb
13

Review: ‘Vestige II’ Melissa Powell and ‘Darkness by Day’ Shannon McGrath at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 5th February – 23rd February 2013

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ves·tige  
/ˈvestij/

Noun
1. A trace of something that is disappearing or no longer exists.
2. The smallest amount (used to emphasize the absence of something): “without a vestige of sympathy”.
3. Biology an organ or part of an organism that is a small nonfunctioning remnant of a functional organ in an ancestor
a trace suggesting that something was once present or felt or otherwise important; “the footprints of an earlier civilization”

via French from Latin ves·tigium footprint, track

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Two solid exhibitions of photography are on display at Anita Traverso in Richmond, a gallery that is showing more photography these days, to excellent affect.

Natimuk based photographer Melissa Powell documents the seasonal changes of the Wimmera environment through the use of aerial photography. She brings her skills as a forensic photographer to bear when capturing our mark on the landscape. Her photographs (full frame and never cropped), are as sharp as a tack, like the crystallisation of a thought – the surgical gaze of the artist balanced by a lyrical, abstract poetry. Powell renders (and that is the appropriate word) natural phenomena in their direct relation to humanity, pointing her camera at patterns of cropping, the patchiness of the earth and its sandy, infertile soil. She sees the world clearly and tells the story in a plain, almost scientific way… but this utopian vision of the world is balanced by a feeling in the viewer, a feeling of drifting and floating above the earth, inhabiting a liminal space, as in a daydream.

Powell’s is an expression of the land, presented in a particular way as she remembers experiencing it. For example, look at Painterly Divide No.1, (2012, below) and notice the perfect confluence of yin and yang broken by the single mutation of the furrow midway up in the centre of the image (enlarge the image to see it better!). Disorder plays off order in the mind of the viewer in an absolutely sublime way. Sure, a few things need work in the exhibition, like the framing and naming of the works, but this all comes with time and experience. What Powell evidences in her photographs is a wonderfully strong aesthetic producing some of the best aerial photography I have ever seen. Her traces, footprints and tracks are vestigial structures that links us back to our ancestors, photographs as passionate representation of the land, done with strength and depth of soul.

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In the back gallery Shannon McGrath, an established architecture photographer, images stacks of wood that “are considered for both their aesthetic values and formal compositional qualities such as patterning and seriality.” The suite of five very large, unmounted black photographs printed on matt Silver Rag paper are stunning, much darker and of more luminance than seen in reproduction here (there are also two other photographs using an electric blue colour that simply did not work for me). Using a minimal composition of the thing itself (and what it can become), the photographer imbues a romantic, visual sensibility into her subject matter. The matt blacks are like velvet and the spaces that open up within the image magical. These things “breathe” like a black Rothko painting, or the plastic black of a Rembrandt.

McGrath’s photographs are “impressionistic inventories of landscapes and entropic architectural structures that connote psychologically, emotionally, and viscerally.” (Anon. “Cyprien Gaillard: The Crystal World,” at MOMA PS1). The object of her attention – the planks of wood – have a temporality that is characterised by repetition and predictability. The viewer tries to articulate difference through looking but that looking reduces differences to similarities unless we look very closely, are very attentive to the condition of looking. Enlarge any of the dark images below and really look at the cut ends of the wood, their inflection. What is hidden within (or beneath, for the photograph is also a physical object) the flat surface of the image are the nuances of language – the physicality of the print, the punctum of white, the band saw cuts that inhabit the end of days. There is a slippage between language and referent which makes McGrath’s photographs a beautiful deviation and productive possibility of language, one that encourages the vital movement of the subversive sign.

My only concern is “where to next?” What other surfaces which are hidden, which slowly reveal aspects and possibilities, subtleties and complexities will the photographer engage with? Excitingly, I want to see more from both photographers as they combine the ordinary and the poetic in a field of revolutionary possibilities.

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Many thankx to Anita Traverso Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Melissa Powell. 'Painterly Divide No.1' 2012

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Melissa Powell
Painterly Divide No.1
2012
Pigment ink on cotton rag
50.5 x 70.6 cm
edn. 1/9

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Melissa Powell. 'Traces of Time' 2012

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Melissa Powell
Traces of Time
2012
Pigment ink on cotton rag
50.5 x 76 cm
edn. 1/9

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“Centered on documentation of the Wimmera region, Melissa Powell’s images are depicted from an aerial perspective that allows her to capture the theatre and sublimity of a landscape that is consistently eroded and replenished by both the cycles of nature, the progression of time and the argicultural impace of man.”

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Anna Briers, independent art curator and writer

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Melissa Powell. 'Camouflage No.2' 2012

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Melissa Powell
Camouflage No.2
2012
Pigment ink on cotton rag
50.5 x 70.6 cm
edn. 1/9

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Melissa Powell
Droughtbreaker
2011
Pigment ink on cotton rag
50.5 x 70.6 cm
edn. 8/12

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Melissa Powell
Salt Lake No.1
2011
Pigment ink on cotton rag
50.5 x 70.6 cm
edn. 8/9

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“A forensic photographer in her former life, Melissa Powell’s new direction as an aerial photographer was endorsed by her winning first prize for aerial photography at the 2012 International Photography Awards, New York, USA. Vestige II, Powell’s debut exhibition at Anita Traverso Gallery, surveys an amalgam of three photographic series drawn from the artist’s oeuvre – Grounded, Flooded and Dry.

Centered on documentation of the Wimmera region, Powell’s images are depicted from an aerial perspective that allows her to capture the theatre and sublimity of a landscape that is consistently eroded and replenished by the cycles of nature, the progression of time and the agricultural impact of man. Shaped by droughts and bushfires, vast desertous landscapes extend into the horizon. Serpentine rivers and floodplains alternately nourish and fertilise, lacerate and scar. Fecund pastures are contained and demarcated by the rigid geometries of manmade fences and irrigation systems. These vestiges award us a sense of the indelible link between the microcosm and the macrocosm, while enabling us to perceive the constantly shifting narratives of this great southern land.

By contrast Shannon McGrath, an established architecture photographer, aspires to capture the unique spatial dynamics of a building whilst transposing a distillation of the architect’s intention into a two dimensional image. In this photographic series McGrath examines the raw building material of wood in the same way she would approach the documentation of architecture. Photographed on site at the Britton Timber sawmill, the stacks of wood are considered for both their aesthetic values and formal compositional qualities such as patterning and seriality. Simultaneously though, they are envisaged as a core resource imbued with potentiality; their future incarnation, that of the architect’s vision, lying dormant and yet to manifest.”

Press release from the Anita Traverso Gallery website

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Shannon McGrath. 'Mark 01' 2012

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Shannon McGrath
Mark 01
2012
From the series Darkness by Day
Pigment print to cotton rag paper
100 x 128 cm

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Shannon McGrath. 'Mark 02' 2012

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Shannon McGrath
Mark 02
2012
From the series Darkness by Day
Pigment print to cotton rag paper
100 x 128 cm

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“These stacks of saw-mill timber were shot in broad daylight without any artificial lighting, in situ and without any intervention in their arrangement. I was drawn to the dark element in them that survives this ‘glare’ yet reveals it in other ways – how the light naturally hits the objects and remains in an interplay with the darkness and shadows of the grain, the individual and beautiful markings the blade has left on the natural material, and the extrusions and hollows of the layering of the wood. This gave the show its title. Even in the jewel-like, cobalt image, there is this dynamic. This is a theme that runs through my creative photography: surfaces which are hidden, which slowly reveal aspects and possibilities, subtleties and complexities. I considered wood as an essential building material so I approached the stacks of timber and photographed it with the same sensitivitiy as architecture.”

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Artist statement

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Shannon McGrath. 'Mark 07' 2012

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Shannon McGrath
Mark 07
2012
From the series Darkness by Day
Pigment print to cotton rag paper
100 x 128 cm

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Shannon McGrath. 'Mark 08' 2012

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Shannon McGrath
Mark 08
2012
From the series Darkness by Day
Pigment print to cotton rag paper
100 x 128 cm

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Anita Traverso Gallery
7, Albert Street
Richmond, Vic 3121

Opening hours:
Wed – Sat 11 – 5

Anita Traverso Gallery website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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