epilogue \ 01
Text and Curation by Amanda Austin
Paul Blackmore - Australians \ Responses to the Land
I have a wonderfully charming and quirky neighbour, in his late 70's, who is always knocking at my door to tell me about a play, music, film or some extravaganza that he has experienced, and thinks I should be privy to. Many times I have come home to one of his drawings or a piece of writing slid under my door, and sometimes a book he has discovered that reminds him of me, left sweetly in my hallway.
One day I happened to take notice of one of the books that he had left me at one time over the years, the cover and what followed was a beautiful series of black and white portraits from the simply titled Australians: Responses to the Land by photographer Paul Blackmore, which conjured such a reponse that it sparked my inspiration and set the course for this gallery of Australian photography.
This evocative book moved me to contemplate for the first time, just how Australian photographers represent Australians and Australian culture when you look at it collectively. I had never really considered how Australian photographers reflect and embody Australian culture uniquely from the rest of the world. With this in mind, I began to collate images that considered this idea. I quickly realised that I would need an encyclopedic series of images to even attempt to give an encompassing overview of Australia's cultural landscape; and really, who the hell was I to attempt to try and ‘define’ Australia anyway?
While I abandoned that idea, when I looked through the collection of images that I'd had compiled, what I could see clearly was each photographer’s viewpoint and their understanding of 'Australia'. I became so warmly connected to their imagery and personal reflection of Australian identity, that a personal reaction to landscape and culture became the central theme of my curation. Feeling the only way to make something honest was to ply head first into it, without too much extra thought, selecting images that incited the strongest personal reaction made up the final edit. The whole process and every image gave me a lot of insight and joy, it was nearly impossible not to laugh out loud when looking through Rennie Ellis’ body of work.
This is my personal love letter to the country that binds us and to the photographers who have coloured a complex reflection of what it is to be Australian. From Paul Blackmore, Rennie Ellis, Tracey Moffatt, Stephen Dupont, Trent Parke, Wayne Quilliam, Michael Corridore, William Yang, John Coxon, Jochen Spencer to Robert Ashton, I thank you all for your time and contribution to this celebration of Australia, I have gained a vivid insight and an unshakable warmth for this land of 'sweeping plains' in all its radiant colour and diversity.
THE LAND THAT SHAPED THEM