Category Archives: Exhibitions

Ten-Mile Stare Exhibition

My new photographic exhibition (Ten-Mile Stare: Monaro / Snowy Landscapes) will be at the Foyer Gallery, School of Art, at the Australian National University. 34 framed images of Monaro and Snowy Mountains landscapes, incorporating text expressing a range of different interpretations of the land.

The work will be on show from 12 to 23 March, with a GALA OPENING at 6pm on Thursday 14 March.

All works are for sale, and a book of reproductions (also containing notes about the images) is also available. But admission to the exhibition is free, so just come along for a look!

You can preview the images in the show here.

Ten-Mile Stare - invitation front

Ten-Mile Stare - invitation back

About the images:
The Monaro and Snowy Mountains regions of New South Wales are home to a diverse range of radiant landscapes. From the rolling treeless plains of the Monaro to the herbfields, snow and granite tors of the ‘High Country’, there are countless views to satisfy anyone in search of the picturesque and the sublime. These are landscapes that reward slow and extended examination. The back roads and backcountry hiking trails reveal serendipitous splendour, and the regular visitor sees a landscape that transforms with the seasons.

But these are places that mean different things to different people. Multifarious layers of identity have been written onto the land. For millennia it was the country of the Ngarigo people, and was also visited and/or occupied by people of the Walgalu, Ngunnawal, Yuin, Bidawal and Jaithmathang.

Since the arrival and occupation of the land by Europeans from the 1820s, there have been explorers, squatters, convicts, settlers, gold miners, merchants, bushrangers, pastoralists, townsfolk, dam-builders, adventure-seekers, conservationists and artists. Each has brought their own narratives, their own plans, dreams and visions – and often even brought their own place-names. Their various narratives, names and interests have contested for dominance ever since, sometimes in open conflict. This process continues.

And, of course, I also bring my own narratives. In 1835, my great-grandfather was assigned as a convict to a station at the northern end of the Monaro. For 40 years from the 1890s my grandfather held summer grazing leases up near Mt Jagungal, and my own family farmed on the western side near Tumbarumba. Nowadays I frequently travel from my home in Canberra to the Monaro and Snowy Mountains, to bushwalk, tour and make photographs.

In these images I have tried to express, hopefully without judgment, some of the contending visions of this glorious land. These take on physical form as text-objects, placed or projected onto the topography. They aim to appear as real and as solid as the features of the landscapes that contain them. Their meanings range from the obvious, even clichéd, to the more obscure, allowing for multiple interpretations.

I prefer to think of them as images rather than photographs, because they are manipulated and contrived, and also because they only partially aim to serve as representations of the ‘real world’.

And not landscapes, but textscapes, as I am interested in what the addition of text does to our viewing of a photograph. Although starting out as picturesque views of particular ‘rural’ and ‘wilderness’ landscapes, these images aspire to become fields of meaning.

Postcards From Canberra Exhibition

An exhibition of Postcards From Canberra opened tonight at PhotoAccess at the Manuka Arts Centre. It features more than 350 postcard-sized prints from 39 photographers, each offering a different perspective on the town we all live in.

As PhotoAccess Director David Chalker says in the exhibition catalogue: “For me living in Canberra is a privilege, not because it’s the national capital—although few of us would be here otherwise—but for a host of other reasons: like the beauty of the place, the closeness to bush, the extraordinary bird life in my garden, the diversity of cultures and cultural opportunities. ‘Postcards from Canberra‘ suggests we see our lives in Canberra in different ways, but we all seem to have found something to celebrate in this our first members’ exhibition for 2013, Canberra’s Centenary year. There are familiar places and abstract interpretations of places. It’s a kaleidoscope—like Canberra itself, a place that’s easy to love…”

I was delighted to have ten of my images in the show, and very chuffed that one them was selected as the feature image on the exhibition web page.

My set of images were collectively called ‘Over the Hills‘ (not ‘Over the Hill’!), and show a variety of scenes captured on (or from) the hills of Canberra. They are linked thematically and also share a similar quality of light, being captured in the golden glow of late afternoon.

Winter Postcards exhibition

PhotoAccess is currently showing an exhibition of work by no less than 32 photographers. It’s called Winter Postcards, and as the name suggests all of the works must be postcard size (i.e. 6″ x 4″), with each exhibitor able to show up to 10 images.

The brief for the exhibition is very broad, with the only requirements being that the images should relate somehow to the winter theme – even if they are images of travel to warmer climes to escape the chilly Canberra winter – and that each set of images should work as a group.

I submitted 10 images under the title of “Alpine“. They are all snowy landscape images, with signs of human presence in several of them. Most have been taken in the Snowy Mountains region at some point over the past several years, though there are also two from New Zealand, from when I did a mountaineering course there a few years ago.

Alpine 1 - Ramsheads campsite

Alpine 2 - near Kosciuszko, just before the storm arrived

Alpine 3 - Hedley Tarm reflections

Alpine 4 - Approaching Cootapatamba Hut

Alpine 5 - View from Kelman Hut (NZ)

Alpine 6 - snowshower below South Ramshead

Alpine 7 - early morning on Ramshead Range

Alpine 8 - snowshoe tracks below South Ramshead

Alpine 9 - snowgums near Mt Perisher

Alpine 10 - climbing Mt Aylmer (NZ)

The Winter Postcards exhibition is on at PhotoAccess until 12 August. More information at this link.

Sekala exhibition

My exhibition (Sekala: ritual and ceremony in Bali) continues at PhotoAccess here in Canberra (PhotoAccess Huw Davies Gallery in Manuka, at the corner of Manuka Circle and NSW Crescent) until next Sunday 11 March. The experience of putting on my first solo exhibition has been interesting, and actually (and surprisingly) not too stressful. However I must say that I have been greatly helped by the staff of PhotoAccess in curating and mounting the show, and the quality of the prints produced by Stephen Best at Macquarie Editions has also made a huge difference.


The exhibition has been going really well, with a good flow of visitors, and some great reactions from those who have viewed it so far. I’m very pleased! I had become so accustomed to looking at photos on the screen of computers, that I had almost forgotten how much better they can look when well printed, at good size (A3+ and A2 size) and displayed well in a properly lit environment.

The opening was fantastic. Over 70 in attendance – it was really good to have so many friends and family members there to support me. Proud to have Bill Farmer (Ambassador to Indonesia 2005-10) and his wife Elaine formally open the exhibition. They spoke of the unique nature of Balinese culture, and the often distorted and inaccurate picture that Australians have of Indonesia generally. They stressed the central role that Asian nations will take in the world over coming years, and the need for Australia to genuinely engage with Asian people and cultures – while at the same time bemoaning the decline in Australian interest in our northern neighbours and the decline in Asian language training in our educational institutions. And they said some very nice things about the exhibition photos too…!

You can see the full set of images in the exhibition in this folder on the main Jokar web site.

Here’s a few installation shots of the exhibition.





Sekala: ritual and ceremony in Bali (Exhibition)

My first solo exhibition (‘Sekala: ritual and ceremony in Bali‘) opens at the PhotoAccess Huw Davies Gallery in Manuka ACT (corner of Manuka Circle and NSW Crescent – next to the Manuka Pool) at 6pm on Thursday 23 February. It will continue until 4pm on Sunday March 11 – check the PhotoAccess web site for details of opening hours. I hope you can make it along for a look!

Here’s a draft of my ‘Artist Statement’ for the exhibition:

Generations of western artists and diverse other visitors have been captivated by the Balinese people, their culture and landscape. There are many ways for the visitor to ‘see’ Bali – as a palm-fringed tourist resort, as an exploited third-world economy with a culture under threat, or as some idealised spiritual oasis in an otherwise materialistic world. The reality of course is much more complex and multi-faceted – our stereotypes may tell us more about ourselves and our own cultures than about the ‘real’ Bali.

The Balinese have a neat concept for this: they speak of ‘Sekala’, which is the surface layer of our experience – that which is visible, the tangible. Beneath lies ‘Niskala’, the hidden world which explains and animates the surface layer, full of gods, spirits, ancestors – the balanced and opposing forces of good and evil. Images in this exhibition may only deal explicitly with Sekala, but will hopefully offer glimpses into the underlying world of Niskala.

The images were selected from the 15,000 that I took during 2009-10 when my wife Karen and I worked on a volunteer assignment with a textile arts foundation based in Ubud, Bali. During that time we travelled a great deal, and were privileged to encounter a range of people, places, performances and ceremonies, many of which were well off the standard tourist trail.

The exhibition of prints (and the associated video slideshow) seeks to reveal some of the ceremonial and ritual practices that I found most compelling. I hope that it goes some way to explaining my fascination with this extraordinary place and its people – a living and vibrant culture surviving in the face of great social, environmental and economic change. In particular I have sought to highlight two things:

  • the Balinese ‘aesthetic’ – the love of elegance in performance and visual decoration which pervades all products of their material culture; and
  • the strands of animism and Balinese Hinduism that so often lie just below the surface of daily life and events.

I was inspired in this work by the stream of western artists who have created their own ‘outsider’ visions of Bali over the past century. In particular this would include such painters and writers as Miguel Covarrubias, Rudolf Bonnet and Walter Spies, but also fine contemporary photographers such as Rio Helmi.