Monday, June 14, 2010

Rock, Jazz, Hollywood and Federation Australia.

STOP PRESS: Oz artist MAX PAM Reigns in Spain
Compulsive traveller and distinguished Australian fine-art photographer Max Pam has won “Best Photography Book Prize (International Category)” for his latest book Atlas Monographs (T&G Publishing Sydney) at the 2010 PhotoEspana Festival in Madrid. Regarded as a major event in the European photographic calendar, the Spanish festival attracts a world-wide audience of 600,000. When publisher Gianni Frinzi was advised of the win early this week, he commented, “we are absolutely delighted with the win. Max (Pam) and I worked tirelessly to ensure the integrity and quality of the book. It is fantastic to be rewarded with this international prize.” Frinzi said the award vindicated T&G's policy of "bringing the best of Australian photography to the world. This prize is ... recognition for Max Pam’s tremendous body of work, and for T&G. It is a real boost for Australian photography publishing. To my knowledge we are the first to win this prize in Australia.” In Atlas Monographs Max Pam's pictures imaginatively reflect his personal odyssey through Zanzibar, China, South India, Yemen, Madagascar, Karakoram and the South China Sea, with the vast majority of pictures having not been published before. The book also contains photographs from Pam's formative years as a photographer in the early 1970’s to images made as recently as 2006. Pam has traditionally added written narratives to his photographs and Atlas Monographs draws upon excerpts from these journals. The award will be presented in Madrid on 24th June.(PhotoEspaƱa's jury comprised Juan Manuel Bonet, critic and former director of Museum Reina Sofia; Pep Carrio, photographer; Wim van Sinderen, curator at The Hague Museum of Photography; Miguel Lopez, Director of Antonio Saura Foundation and designer Alberto Corazon)
Tony Egan shows Popular Art can also be Great Art
A few years ago I watched in amazement as then U.S. President George W. Bush made the unlikeliest of televised speeches, somewhere in Africa, in which he declared: "America had a huge debt to Africa ... for that continent has given us much of the genius that is America", which, he went on to say, was expressed through unique U.S. popular art forms - such as the 'Musical' and of course, 'Jazz'. Though he stopped short of including rock and roll, Bush, it seemed, had 'got it', and Tony Egan's photographs at the Meyer Gallery also get it. "The seeds for this work were sown in 1970, when I was twelve years old," recalls Egan, "In my first year ... boarding... at a country school, I heard my first rock band and promptly ceased six years of classical piano lessons and taught myself the guitar." Here, captured in fine black and white photographs are some of the pillars of American and Australian popular music, not only great Jazz players such as Sonny Rollins (pictured, left) and Australian stellar bassist, Cameron Undy (pictured, right) but harder to categorize performers such as John Butler and Renee Geyer. I was at the Sonny Rollins (1930 - ) performance Egan photographed and had to marvel at this ancient, tireless musician's seemingly unlimited mastery of circular breathing - and of course his artistry. Egan also includes a playful image of perhaps the greatest of all hard-driving rock musicians, James Brown (1933-2006) I still remember Brown's thunderous rock anthem, "It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World ..." going viral in Australia in 1966. The Godfather of Soul (or should it be Funk?) is captured by Egan (above) doing what he did best, having the time of his life performing, while playfully dangling a long microphone cord as lightly as a lassoo.
At the Meyer Gallery, Darlinghurst. Until June 27
Picturing NSW: Vintage Imagery from
Kerry & Co.
This fascinating exhibition opened at the University of Sydney's Macleay Museum on Thursday, 3 June, featuring over 100 black and white photographs of a rapidly expanding New South Wales - less then a colony than the parallel engine, with Victoria, driving Federation Australia. Looking closely at the pictures Charles Kerry's 'operators' took, there is always more than just scenic town views and historic buildings. Kerry apparently briefed his photographers to consider the humanity they encountered, often including people and evidence of where capital and labour intersected. Taken from the Macleay Museum's Collection, these photographs provide an evocative portrait of regional NSW during a time of apparent prosperity around the turn of the 20th century. (Kerry & Co images form part of the Macleay Museum’s historical photograph collection and, for this exhibition, have been reproduced from original glass negatives, many in large format.) According to Jan Brazier, the Macleay Museum curator of the History collections and Picturing New South Wales, “The photographs create a view of place which met the perception of how people wanted their part of the world to be seen,” she claims. “Kerry images in the Macleay’s collection are not (just) about people but about public buildings, industries, churches, main streets – and reveal a vision of progress and European settlement at a time of change moving into the modern new century.” Brazier also reminds us, ironically, that images in Picturing New South Wales reflect "the optimism burgeoning rural settlements once promised compared with today, where many small towns across NSW and Australia struggle for survival." Professor Richard Waterhouse, Bicentennial Professor of Australian History at the University of Sydney, will give a public lecture at 6.30pm on Wednesday, 21 July, 2010 entitled "A Forgotten Australian? Bush towns, rural Australia and Australian history." Entry is free but bookings are essential (Phone (02) 9036 5253)at the Macleay Museum, Gosper Lane, off Science Road, University of Sydney. Open Monday to Friday 10am to 4.30pm and Sundays, from noon to 4pm. Picturing New South Wales: Photographs by Kerry & Co is on exhibition until February, 2011.
The Past - Another Country Worth Visiting
Every now and then a picture emerges from a contemporary photographer that makes me realise we are not so far removed from "the giants on whose shoulders we stand," as the astonishingly gifted physicist, mathematician and philosopher Isaac Newton (1643-1727) modestly wrote to Robert Hooke in 1676. Newton would later utter another sentence, equally humble, to further attempt to place his life's scientific achievements into perspective, "To myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." Penelope Beveridge is an industrious, inventive young photographer who has an affinity for the glamourous imagery produced by such Hollywood luminaries as George Hurrell (1904-1992) and recently sent me this intriguingly titled image, (pictured, above) "Medusa". Hurrell's stylised lighting techniques have influenced everyone who seeks to recreate equivalent moments to the visual fantasies that punctuated Hollywood's classic black and white films and Beveridge is no exception. "I call this my retro-vintage look," says the photographer, adding that her picture was appropriately "printed using silver halide (paper)" and forms part of an ongoing project.
H.P. Creating Clever Printers for the Smartphone Age
In a direct, agile corporate response to the public's universal adoption of Smartphones, the world's largest printer manufacturer Hewlett Packard are introducing a new generation of internet responsive printers - each with their own email address, no less - that can receive your precious, ephemeral images from a Smartphone and make them tangible, in print form. According to H.P. "Every HP ePrint printer will have a unique simple e-mail address that allows the sender to deliver a print the same way they would send an e-mail message." For a full report from the ever techno-savvy NY Times go to