Tag Archives: landscape

Exhibitions in the Blue Mountains, Australia

I have been off-radar over the last month on a road trip through the heartland of Australia. There will probably be other blog posts about my experiences but I will start with reviews of two exhibitions I saw while on a day trip to the Blue Mountains. My first stop (in poor weather) was to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba, where I serendipitously stopped to escape the rain and saw a series by Australian photographer Nicole Welch called Wildēornes Land, while I waited for the weather to clear up. A link to the exhibition is here.

The show was surprisingly modernistic for a tiny town with an old -fashioned high street and the exhibition space is wonderfully large and open. Like most places in Australia, there is just more space, which allows for museums and galleries to give plenty of room for their subjects to breathe.

Welch’s multimedia show/installation uses images, sculpture, sound and film to investigate the Blue Mountains wilderness from a historical, cultural and ecological viewpoint. The exhibition draws upon archival records that illuminate early European’s romantic notions of Australian wilderness juxtaposed with contemporary ideas and concerns that reflect the inherent loss and uncertainty we now face for our natural environment. (BMCS website)

Particularly striking was her use of a Victorian Chantilly lace mourning shawl in locations of historical significance, which references the gap between past and present. Alongside this were enormous video screens where one could see one’s shadow imprinted on the work, as if the viewer was part of the scene itself. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition, and especially the shawl images, which were delicate, evocative and beautiful, yet filled with meaning and sadness for a way of life that is disappearing.

After leaving this exhibition when the rain stopped, I walked the mile or so to the Scenic World Park, which billed itself as an exploration through a temperate rain forest via the steepest railway n the world. The park is more attractive than all the modern hurly burly of concession stands and gift shops at the top indicates, and I enjoyed a walk through the forest on an elevated boardwalk. A current addition to this is a fabulous sculpture trail, using various media from string to items of rubbish. Here are a few of my images from it. The string work was the most successful, I thought, although the crazy installations of garish pictures will stick in my mind for a long time. (Apologies for the gloomy quality of the images, but they were all taken in fairly low light because of the heavy tree canopy. Also, there was no information leaflet for the trail, as far as I could see, so unfortunately I cannot reference the artists).

Both of these exhibitions used objects in the landscape to make their point and this is an area I would like to explore further, later in my degree.

 

 

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Photo London 2016 – Richard Misrach lecture

This lecture was late in the day, and the room where it was held was unbearably hot, so there was not, perhaps, the air of enthusiasm that Soth had enjoyed in his morning presentation. Misrach talked about his ongoing opus Border Cantos, which comprises a group of series on different themes  to do with the US/Mexican border. He is working alongside a Mexican collaborator, who specialises in building musical instruments. One element of Misrach’s work is that he brings items he has found near the Border to Guillermo, who turns them into musical instruments and the music is an accompaniment to the images.

Richard Misrach border cantos

© Richard Misrach

Misrach showed us the futility of trying to build a solid barrier between the USA and Mexico, with a selection of rather funny pictures of wall ends which anyone can walk around. He talked  about the measures that the US Border Patrols take to prevent and capture migrants entering the USA, which are often draconian and fatal in their implications. He also collects images of strange scarecrows that people make, using the discarded clothes they find. He doesn’t know why they do this, but thinks it might have something to do with the Aztec tradition that every object has a soul/history/voice, which can be exposed.

Misrach’s describes his work as documentary landscape. He deliberately excludes people from the images, preferring to infer their presence through the artefacts he photographs. The work is quietly but overtly political, and he gives some of the money he makes to groups which trey to prevent migrants dying from thirst and starvation during their crossing. On a visual level, his work is a curious mixture of diagonals, centred objects and random positioning, but enough for me to have specifically noticed it.

During the questions section, Misrach was asked what the purpose of the “Canto” was, and he replied that all of the different series are loosely linked together, and the musical vocabulary of cantos being songs/chapters of a larger body of work seemed to fit.

I really liked Misrach’s work and motivation. There are parallels with Salgado’s political work, but in a less market oriented way – you get the impression that Misrach is driven primarily by what he wants to photograph, rather than how well it will sell*. There are also parallels with Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long’s work on the landscape and the marks we make upon it.

More information about Border Cantos can be found at http://www.bordercantos.com

Footnote

One of the jaw dropping moments of the Photo London exhibition was Salgado’s $4000  limited edition of his recent work Genesis, which come with its own stand, so one can read it in the manner of a Bible.

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© Holly Woodward