My work has been included in an exhibition about integration at the CAM Museum in Italy.
A handmade poster using my photograph of Matuse – Portrait of a Young Aussie, has been included in a new group exhibition at the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum, near Naples in Italy. Promoted as the biggest exhibition ever realized on the theme of integration, “You no speak Americano original” aims at highlighting issues of discrimination and racism. It functions as an open call to all artists of any nationality, race, religion, age and sexual orientation to fight against intolerance. The exhibition is curated by CAM museum director Antonio Manfredi, in an institution which often specifically looks at the how contemporary artists view the conflicting worlds of politics, corruption and crime. The publicity poster for the show is in the form of an ironic portrait of Donald Trump as Uncle Sam, recruiting all artists to join his private army of distrust and racism.
The exhibition “You no speak Americano original” includes posters commenting on the themes of racism and prejudice, made by more than 100 artists, primarily from Italy, but also from Argentina, Australia (me), Austria, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Kosovo, Macedonia, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, UK and USA.
On Friday afternoon I drove down to Canberra with a friend for the launch and announcement of the winner of the 2017 National Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery, This year marked the 4th occasion that one of my portraits has been shortlisted as a finalist in the prize.
I really appreciate being selected as part of this exhibition. It comes with some standing since it’s a National Prize (this year 49 works were selected from a field of 3,000)) and also it takes place in the esteemed premises of the National Portrait Gallery in our nation’s capital, Canberra. Thank goodness for GPS with all the circular traffic conditions.
As one of the selected finalists, I arrived a 5pm for a reserved viewing of the exhibition. This meant I had a chance to look at the works hanging in the lofty halls of the gallery without a crowd. It also gives you a chance to meet some of the other 49 finalists before the speeches and the announcement of the winner.
My selected work is a recent portrait of my friend, Matuse…see below.
Portrait of a young Aussie, Matuse Peace, 2016
This is a portrait of a young Australian man. It was taken in my studio earlier this year.
I gave Matuse a bag full of clothing and asked him if he would select a “costume” and put it on, which he did.
In this portrait of Matuse in simple Arab dress, I intentionally depict him as a metaphor for certain prejudices and negative attitudes, conscious or unconscious, that our society at times has been conditioned to project. Here, I have purposely but subtly imposed such terms as “radical” and “fundamental” onto my willing subject, a young man who normally goes about in jeans and a t-shirt
Matuse is of Middle Eastern descent, and he is also a practicing Muslim. He confronts the camera with openness, calmness and stillness. For him, the clothing is merely fabric, and not a signifier of any political stance or pretext.
He also remains an honest young Aussie.
At 6pm the doors open to the invited public. I met Matuse, the model in my portrait, at the front of the gallery, together with a couple of other friends and we entered.
The winner was announced…and bravo to Gary Grealy for his beautiful portrait of Richard Morecroft and Alison Mackay. Highly commended was John Benavente, Renaissance Rose and Brett Canet-Gibson, Mastura. (See NPG Portrait Prize)
After the announcements everyone was invited into the exhibition area to see the finalists’ works. It is a great privilege to observe the reaction of the public to your work. I love over-hearing the comments and looking at the faces of the visiters as they consider the portrait. Matuse was equally engaged, curiously observing the public’s reaction to his image. It was fun watching the visiters slowly come to the realisation that the young man wearing jeans and a base-ball cap, standing nearby, was in fact the stately looking model in the portrait. Some people asked him questions. Kuei, the model in the neighbouring work by Kellie Leczinska, then referred to Matuse as “The Prince of Egypt”.
All in all it was a special evening and a great event. It’s refreshing to see such a high standard of excellence in photographic portraiture showcased in such a beautiful space. Afterwards all the finalists and their friends were invited to a more relaxed event, so we could meet and mingle, where relationships and new connections can be formed. The next day several talks were organised at the National Portrait Gallery in relation to the prize. It was wonderful to hear from the 2017 winner, Gary Grealy, George Fetting (accomplished photographer and 2017 judge) and Elizabeth Looker (2016 winner) at the “Light Effects” talk.
A big thank you to Crowne Plaza Hotel for offering a night at their hotel as part of being a finalist. Also a big thank you to all the work and creativity by those involved, for establishing such a prize and such a successful event. This includes the generous sponsors and staff of the NPG, as well as the judges who had their work cut out for them…Penelope Grist, Assistant Curator, National Portrait Gallery; Dr Sarah Engledow, Curator, National Portrait Gallery; George Fetting, guest judge, photographer.
I had the pleasure of spending the weekend at Hardwicke, the horse stud near Yass owned by my friend Philippa Torlonia, who divides her time between the bucolic pastures of Australia and the cobble-stoned frenzy of Rome. I snapped a few shots of the this beautiful landscape, and several magnificent thoroughbreds. The farm also produces excellent olive oil in a business operated by Philippa’s son Charles de Nanteuil, or Charley as we call him. As well as the award-winning La Barre extra-virgin olive oil, his company produces and distributes a range of infused oils, vinegars and condiments. My personal La Barre favourites: lemon-infused olive oil, blood plum finishing vinegar and their classic Worcestershire sauce.
In the wake of the gaffes at the 2017 Oscars, JONATHAN TURNER provides the commentary and presents the awards, maintaining his unofficial prerogative to announce the wrong winners.
Once again, Mardi Gras has come and gone. And once again, an international crew attended our annual Garry Scale Memorial Fruit Stand on Flinders Street. With impeccable tardiness, Garry Scale arrived late. This year, the viewing stand was further protected from the elements and riff-raff thanks to Lachlan’s excellent Do-It-Yourself capabilities, and a shocking pink marquee. Lachlan said he liked the scene at pre-Parade Bunnings on Saturday morning, with squadrons of poofs assembling floats on utes, working in the parking lane normal reserved for legit carpenters and plumbers.
Live from the Parade
2017 was a parade in celebration of gay Tradies, furbies, nurses with over-sized pills, pin-ups, twinks, Ricky Martin, Wonder Woman, mirror balls, gaybies, transgender school-kids, Andy Warhol, otters, unicorns, corporate bankers, balloons, Xena the Warrior Princess, that cute Tarzan guy carrying the ACON flag on his dick, firemen and other strippers.
Different floats were flamboyantly dedicated to different countries – Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Israel, Slovenia, a floating island of Polynesians, the Tiwi Island Sistagirls in ceremonial garb, Ireland, Finland, Scotland, Thailand and The Netherlands as our orange-clad ambassadors to the free world.
We screamed at our glamorous Mardi Gras Ambassadors Cindy Pastel, Trevor Ashley and cheesy Bob Downe riding in their rainbow-painted drop-top Holdens. Proud American country-singer Steve Grand also drove past. He has recently been complaining that people don’t take him seriously as a singer, and we only want to see his six-pack abs. Well Steve darling, if you don’t want to be objectified, then maybe you shouldn’t take your shirt off in front of 300,000 screaming people, rub oil on your torso, and then post all the photos on social media.
Mardi Gras Ambassador – Courtney Act
Officially and unofficially, at Mardi Gras there were lots of cops, thankfully not all of them with sniffer dogs. There were several marching police groups, and the George Michael Freedom float featured a large contingent impersonating George as the L.A. cop in his brilliantly controversial Outside music video. But definitely the gayest vehicle in the entire 2017 Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade was the hunky silver NSW Police Audi coupe’, complete with fluorescent checkerboard signage, driven by two grinning uniformed officers who had recently had their teeth whitened.
There were lots of sporty bits.
Heaps of Olivia Newton-John inspired “Let’s Get Physical” aerobics outfits.
Two Olympic gold-medal divers Greg Louganis AND Matthew Mitcham attended the Garry Scale Memorial Fruit Stand.
Various water polo and footie teams marched past. And Ian Roberts ruled the NRL float, a man who deserves our eternal respect as being the first man to unabashedly come out in any of the international football leagues while still at the top of his game. More than two decades ago, like a Titan, he smashed down the closet door. Roberts remains humble, honest and, for a former Manly front row player, erudite. He ain’t no saint, but he might as well be. After all, our only official Aussie saint is dull old Mary McKillop, who was just a jumped-up school teacher who liked kangaroos.
All the red-and-yellow lifesavers dancing around their “Kiss of Life” float were performing the same hand-signals as the cabin crew on the Qantas float with Troye Sivan. Sivan is our home-grown singer, song-writer, teenaged Wolverine and YouTube wunderkind. Were the Qantas hostesses and Bondi lifesavers all signalling to indicate the nearest 747 exit, or telling us to bring in the buoys?
Icons – Ricky Martin (wax), Wonder Woman, George Michael & Andy Warhol
Disney Icons – Genie, Robin Hood, Maleficent & Aladdin and/or Ali Baba
So here are the unofficial awards for the 2017 Mardi Gras Parade.
Best dress – Verushka Darling on the back of the Air bnb cottage, floating like an angel in a white cascade of domestic light-bulbs.
Best Costume – the metallic blue and silver entrant with ice-coloured contact lenses, built-in neon lighting and his trio of black canine bodyguards
Best Group T-shirts – the Aussie Lamb float, with a motif of a couple of prime rainbow cutlets printed on a mint-green background.
Best Dyke on a Bike – the dyke on the yellow Ducati.
Most Necessary Politics – Keep Sydney Open, a float lambasting the ridiculous lock-out laws, with signs in favour of the Oxford Street clubs, and quashing the notion that “Dancing is Dangerous”.
A Twisted Sister, plus Not the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but perennial favorite Kabi / Kevin / Ethel Yarwood in a mask.
Best Policeman – He knows who he is, the cheeky bugger.
Best Bagpipes Player (I never thought I would write that phrase) – One of the Scotzboys, and he also knows who he is.
Best Choreography – the SBS “Equality is our Chemistry” float, when the dancers joined together to turn their glittery half-hearts into full hearts. How sweet. Plus the red and white Medicare float with the Kiss-Cam. Smooch.
Even Better Choreography – the ANZ guy who couldn’t clap and scream in time with all his colleagues, who could be seen counting the steps on his lips, and who blithely span and marched in the opposite direction. Brilliant!
Best Float – Poof Doof. Harking back to the glory days of the Albury floats, this entry understood the impact of a powerful sound system, happy couples in black leather speedos shooting smoke cannons and a strict black-and-white chessboard theme with unicorns, bishop hats, dog-masks and witches. Slave to the rhythm.
Remember, beauty fades but dumb is forever.
Mardi Gras – It’s just like Christmas, only happy.
The exhibition will take place at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra from 1 April – 18 June, 2017. 50 finalist works are selected from photographers from all over Australia. I am looking forward to going down for the opening. The National Photographic Portrait Prize is one of my favourites – guaranteed high level of photographic expertise on display!
I will post more information as the date approaches…….
I have recently returned from working in sunny Italy to an equally sunny Australia. And after spending quite a long time away it was great to have an excuse to travel down to Victoria. It was fortunate that one of my clients was shooting his annual jewellery catalogue in Melbourne and rural Victoria, so that gave me a perfect pretext to make the journey.
One of the locations was conveniently close to Pomonal where my sister lives. I have blogged several times before in reference to Pomonal…so here is an up-date of rural life at the foot of the Grampian mountain range.
I arrived on the Saturday afternoon after a non-stop drive from Melbourne, where I had been working the previous 3 days. I found Helen sitting on the verandah of her little country hide-away (see picture).
I then headed straight for the Stawell Show Grounds from Melbourne. It was a push since the show was starting to wind up and I had to get there before 4pm, if I wanted to see Denise and her winning entries. Thanks goodness I had a reliable GPS and I could head off the highway, onto the dirt road leading to Stawell.
I arrived in the car park, and Denise eagerly awaiting. I was quickly whisked away to the grand pavilion, on the edge of the main arena, where there was some exciting news……
Surprise, surprise! Denise had several prize-winning entries. She is so proud of her baking efforts and was over the moon at the fact that the local agricultural establishment had chosen to acknowledge this by awarding her several first and second prizes.
The real surprise was the Cappuccino cake…a relatively complicated layered construction which she managed beautifully, to win her a first ticket. I found out from Helen that the 2nd prize for the Anzac biscuits was also hard won. Apparently, they had some difficulty with the first batch, which lost shape and pured out all over the baking tray. With an insightful variation of the recipe (don’t try this at home, only a skilled technician, which Denise is, can play around with changing recipes) she managed a second prize.
A slight disappointment….(well, I suppose you can’t really say disappointment when you have already won 2 sections and 2nd in another)…was the tea tray section. Denise, unfortunately didn’t cut the mustard in this years effort. It’s always good to have something to strive for and next year, I am sure, Denise will be hoping for a better result.
We still had half an hour left before the show ended, so we decided to exit the baking pavilion, to visit side show alley and see what else was on offer……….
So I thought……..but no! We were off to another pavilion for more of “Denise on show”! To my surprise Denise had extended her kit bag of talents to the photographic awards and had entered her work in 2 sections. There was quite an impressive selection of photographs on display. Some of the contestants were obviously professional or semi professional photographers. Denise wasn’t…but that didn’t deter her from entering because they had a section for amateurs.
How wonderful…..the side shows were still in progress after we left the photography. Although the guy on the Cha Cha had started to pack up, it didn’t deter Denise from having a go on the darts and the clowns. Denise was full of confidence after her wins and this was reflected in her deft delivery of both the darts and the balls. She started first on the darts and quickly made a number of successful throws to land herself a soft toy bear (see image). She was also successful on the clowns but the prizes on offer were less impressive.
Another fascinating feature was the Sheaf Tossing Competition. I have never seen this type of sport before…but here it was at the Stawell Show. The idea is to stick a pitch fork into a small bag of hay and throw it as high as you can, over a horizontal suspended beam. Have a look at the shots for a better explanation. The 2014 World Sheaf Tossing champion was defending his title…..he was unsuccessful. He lost to a rather shy young man who was on a “come-back” after retiring from the sport a few years ago.
Well after all that excitement it was time to pack up and collect the prize money. Yes….the prize money! How exciting! Those hard won tickets translate into cold hard cash! We quickly retrieved the cakes and photos and proceeded to the admin office for the loot! Rob and Elle helped carry the goods to the car.
Now it was time to collect the money…..finally! Guess how much 2 firsts, 2 second and a third got you ahead at the Stawell Show? I’ll tell you…….$8 (AUD). I mean it’s better than a slap in the face….but I hasten to say that the $8 wouldn’t even pay for the matt board on the photos, let alone the ingredients of all those prize winning cakes….but better not look a gift horse in the mouth (as they say in the country).
Well that was the Stawell Show. I decided that I would make an effort to go again next year, but arrive earlier so it won’t be a rushed….get to go on the Cha Cha. In fact, I think I will make a weekend of it.
It was obvious that Rob and Denise shared a common interest in cars….before our departure they took time out to have a look under the bonnet and Rob got into the driver’s seat (See picture)
So that ended day 1 of my trip to Pomonal and Stawell. There’s a day 2 coming up! I think I hit the jack pot. Not only was it the weekend of the Stawell Show but it was also the weekend of the Show and Shine car rally, organised by the local Holden Car Club, of which Denise is the secretary.
Sunday morning, after a hearty breakfast with my sister at the Halls Gap coffee shop I headed off to the nearby oval. Denise was just pulling up in her non-renovated Holden Kingswood. Her pride and joy. She commandeered that lump of metal in true style as she slowly moved onto the oval to take her position in the field of motoring enthusiasts.
Signage had to be put onto the car windows. Elle and Rob were there to lend a hand. Denise opened the bonnet for an inspection proudly admitting that nothing had been done to the car since it was bought.
When Denise felt that the preparations were complete, we all went for a little wander through the fair. It was a great turn out. Many of the cars were renovated versions of their former selves….great testaments of the love and devotion of their owners.
Wow….looking at all the different coloured cars really builds up an appetite. We headed for the sausage sizzle, a fund-raiser for sure!
A flashback from the day before….clowns and fairy floss.
I had to leave to go to and work at a nearby homestead. We were about to shoot the last model for the 2017 Circa AD jewellery catalogue…..hence why Adrian was in one of the above shots. But before we all left Denise and finish the day at the “Show and Shine”, Adrian kindly lent a couple of his pieces that we were going to shoot later on that afternoon for Denise to model. I think she enjoyed the experience…she is certainly a lot more relaxed in front of the camera than when I first started shooting her, so long ago.
That brings me to the end of all the fun and games of the “Show and Shine”…and for that matter, a fond good bye to Halls Gap and Pomonal. It was now onto Lexington, a property near Moysten, for the continuation and last shoot for CircaAD Jewels. But more about that on another blog post. Later that evening I started my long road trip back to Sydney…..14hrs of listening to ABBA on a very boring stretch of road.
And………don’t forget to get that particular shot you wanted in, before Xmas!