Thursday, 16 May 2013

Oculi Book event and Exhibition "Home"

©Andrew Quilty "Home"

As a part of the 2013 Reportage Documentary Photography Festival and in partnership with BLURB books, Australia’s premier photographic collective OCULI presents HOME, an interactive exhibition where viewers are able to remix and print their own custom book from the Oculi Collective’s exhibition .
The event begins May 22nd at 6pm and the exhibition will run until June 10th at the Cleland Bond in The Rocks (Ground Level, 33 Playfair St.) in Sydney, Australia.

©Tamara Voninski "Melbourne"

For more information: see the blurb blog on the Oculi museum catalogue event

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Living at the edge of Kings Cross

I was stunned this evening that my photograph of an infamous Kings Cross character had won the Kings Cross Photographic Prize!  The photograph was taken a split second before she photographed me during her nightly beat in the Cross. Sadly I found out that had she passed away recently. Rest in Peace dear soul...
Winner of the Kings Cross Photographic Prize 2012 © Tamara Voninski

Another of my Kings Cross images was a finalist in the exhibition.
This was taken outside my apartment in the early hours of the morning.when I lived on the edge of the Cross. I was very amused to discover the image was moved to a location in the exhibition where children would not walk past it.

Finalist in the Kings Cross Photographic Prize 2012 © Tamara Voninski

Sunday, 19 August 2012

"Water hole"- the mythological underworld of Narelle Autio

Narelle Autio's new exhibition "Water hole" set deep underwater in the outback of Australia,
reveals a dark mysterious world beyond most human experience.  “Her underwater landscapes contain an element of dark fantasy, like the mythological underworld of Persephone” (Stills Gallery).

Persephone, the Queen of the underworld in ancient Greek mythology lived in a dark landscape that that is analogous to the underwater world and altered state of visual consciousness as documented in the Narelle’s photographs.

©Narelle Autio
Exhibition card from "Water hole" at Stills Gallery

The vivid saturated colours of her previous series "Coastal Dwellers" and "Watercolours" transitions to a subtle palette of blue, green, and earth tones in "Water hole".

At the opening of the exhibition at Stills Gallery in Sydney, I feel I have taken a head first plunge into an abyss where shafts of light reflect and glisten like a diamond caught by a strong light inside a dark cave.  

I feel as if I have been immersed into a cold underwater world filled with buried treasures that are uncovered and reflected in the luminous prints and light box. Narelle's inquisitive eye for the tension between the mystery and poetry of the world of water create an eerie vista.

Years ago traveling through the interior of Australia, I visited some of the same water holes where Narelle has photographed. In 1999, I remember walking alone along an isolated path in the Northern Territory and feeling as though there were eyes watching me.  The fear of crocodiles made me turn back and not plunge into the beautiful water. There are warning signs for crocodiles around many water holes in remote parts of Australia. According to Narelle, the photos from the exhibition are not from areas where saltwater crocodiles frequent. Each plunge into her underwater abyss, however, is like a liquid mirror of goddess Persephone’s world of fear and beauty.

The photographs were captured during a recent six-month journey through the interior of Australia with her partner, Trent Parke and their two children. I asked Narelle where her children were during her shoots. "Sometimes the boys were down the river with Trent and other times they were floating above me," she said.  This is one of the many things that inspire me about Narelle's work/life ethos and her art of being a mother and creating beautiful photographs.

Narelle was one of the original members of Oculi. I worked with her for many years as Oculi went from a grass-roots photographic movement to an internationally recognized collective.  Although she left the Oculi a few years ago, her warm spirit, energy and vision is reflected in the foundations of Oculi and her approach to documenting the everyday in Australia is an inspiration

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“Water hole” is a mystical visual landscape in a deep dark underwater world. The 28 untitled prints linger in my memory long after leaving the darkened gallery.  This is a must-see exhibition that is running concurrently at Stills Gallery in Sydney until August 25th, 2012 and
Hugo Michell Gallery in Adelaide.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Media today…“My career ended while I was in the bathroom”

Media today…This link is a wonderful soulful read “My career ended while I was in the bathroom”  by David Sheets about how and where he found out he was being lay-off from the newspaper where he has worked for the past 14 years in the U.S.  The article is particularly insightful as photographers, journalists, subeditors, designers, etc. across Australia wait to hear if their jobs will be made redundant.  Fairfax redundancies will be announced soon and News Ltd job losses are still unfolding.  Many of my colleagues ponder the future as their chosen career in journalism will end.  In Australia, there will be few options to remain in traditional media and many talented people will be rethinking and retraining.  It is a sad, uncertain time in media around the world.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

"The MERCY project": publishing, vision & soul

James Whitlow Delano is an amazing visionary with a unique & haunting beautiful way of seeing and photographing the world. The book “The Mercy Project/ Inochi” with the renowned book designer Giorgio Baravalle of de.MO. is a piece of publishing art with heart & soul and includes 118 photographers from around the world. I was one of the photographers asked by James to contribute to his vision and project “Mercy”. The book is now available through photoeye with proceeds going to hospice care. The photographs and concept will stay with you for many years after viewing page after page of soulful images. 

James Whitlow Delano said: “I posed one question to photographers I have met all over the world, after the untimely passing of my sister, Jeanne, and last member of my nuclear family: ‘share with me one photograph that says to you ‘MERCY’.  Such a body of work I hoped, could contribute in a meaningful, concrete way in the effort to expand awareness about the critical role that enlightened hospice care can play, as it is likely to touch the lives of most families worldwide some time in the course of their lives.”

 “The Mercy Project” was published in 2010 shortly after my son was born. "Angels" © Tamara Voninski
My caption for the photograph "Angels":
A few years ago as my grandmother lay dying of cancer and she was transferred from a hospice to her home to die, my father asked me if I had any last words I wanted to say to her.  As I was living in Australia and my grandmother was dying in New York State, I realized that my 36 hour voyage via airplanes would not guarantee a hug goodbye in person.  My father suggested that I send an email to say goodbye, but I couldn't find the words.  What does one say? How can I capture the essence of a final message in words?  Instead, I sent a photograph of a group of angels on an escalator to symbolize the celestial world of the spirits of the afterlife that will take care of her on the other side. She looked at the photograph and nodded that she understood.  She passed away that evening.   In many ways, it is the most meaningful photograph I have ever captured because it was my long-distance goodbye to a family member.

The book includes well-known photographers from Magnum, Noor, VII, National Geographic Magazine as well as art photographers around the world.
The Making of The Mercy Project / Inochi is now on Vimeo and an insightful multimedia piece about the background and production of the project.

To order a copy of the book visit:

James Whitlow Delano is based in Tokyo, Japan.  He was in Australia las month showing his work from "Black Tsunami" which has been published recently as an ipad book (Foto Evidence through the itunes store).

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Outward looking, inward looking: Female perspectives

It is often said that we can learn from the generations that precede us.
In Australia, the work of women photographers was often disregarded or ignored
compared to the colourful history of the globe-trotting, war-covering Aussie male photographers. 

Emerging in recent years, are bodies of work being exhibited and published of women photographers who were shooting closer to home in the past 30-50 years.

Several wonderful exhibitions on around Sydney at the moment feature the insightful perspectives of women photographers. The exhibitions range from subject matter that is outward looking as well as projects that are like autobiographical reflections in a mirror. In particular, two exhibitions at the Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre, located in Gymea in the southern suburbs of Sydney are a must-see before June 24th 2012.

The exquisite, intimate prints by photographers Sue Ford and Ingeborg Tyssen are a highlight of the Head On Photography Festival.  Sue Ford’s “Time Machine” with self-portraits from 1960-2006, as well as her 1960’s & 1970’s portraits of women struck a deep chord within me. Somehow, I think they would have been pleased to see a female photographer wheeling a sleeping child in a pram around the gallery, relating to and soaking up inspiration from the feminist perspective of their own stolen moments.

Axel, my son & muse, at the exhibition.

One of Ford’s exhibition placards reads:
“Ford’s interest in self-portraiture was complex and informed by
various concerns.  Central to these concerns was the fact that
self-portraiture can be produced without needing to rely on others.
Ford regularly commented on the restrictions that face many female
artists: family commitments, economic constraints or lack of access to
networks, technology and expertise. Throughout the history of women’s
art, Ford noted, these factors have often limited women to using their
immediate environment as source material for their work.  Ford often
used herself as the basis of her work, not simply because it was
expedient, but also because in doing so she inserted herself into the
history of women’s practice and illuminated its distinctive features.”

In the next room,  “Ingeborg Tyssen: Photographs” was published as a monograph (T&G Publishing) by her photographer husband John Williams as a loving tribute to her life and work following her tragic accidental death in 2002. Tyssen’s work spans several genres, however, her photographs of people in the urban environment are the most powerful in this exhibition. Her black and white street photography from the 1970’s and 1980’s are, in my opinion, nothing short of extraordinary. Her images in public spaces and swimming pools in streams of light present as beautifully stark and candid moments that withstand the test of time. Photography critic Robert McFarlane wrote “… an artist using black and white photography had been able to almost sculpt figures in light from the enveloping seemingly impenetrable, darkness to underscore the sense of urban isolation of busy cities….”

Sadly, both women have passed away and I never met them.  However, I feel a deep and soulful empathy with them after viewing these prints. I wonder after seeing the exhibition, whose imagery in my own generation of women photographers will endure the years and resonate with the next.