Late in 2018 The Wilderness Society released a book that was ‘forty years in the making‘, Wilderness: Celebrating Australia’s Protected Places. To quote TWS: “This magnificent book showcases landscapes protected over 40 years of Wilderness Society campaigns. This includes Kakadu, Daintree, the Kimberley and, of course, Tasmania’s mighty Franklin River. Its pages tell the inspiring story of how people power can rescue the future.” Hallelujah to that. Its 180 pages, 30 cm x 30 cm and you can even buy a Special Edition with a ‘clam shell box’!
The book includes six of my images, and can be purchased here to help celebrate past wins and to support ongoing TWS campaigns for nature.
I was both surprised and pleased to be selected by art consultants to create a large-scale photographic mural for the new Community Dialysis Unit at Katoomba Hospital. The brief called for a “memorable, restful and welcoming” artwork stretching the full length of the facility – a wall 23.5 metres long. With windows and other interruptions, this was a challenging task, on a tight timeframe. So I enlisted my colleagues and friends Ian Charles and Marianne Walsh of Nature Tourism Services to apply their aesthetic, design and photo-editing skills.
Part of the mural “Flourish”, showing windows
We came up with a composite of several misty forest scenes from the higher Blue Mountains, with some inserted flora and fauna. The clients liked it and the printer completed a tricky install just in time for the opening in July. We hope the mural improves the experience of dialysis patients, who visit the unit up to three times a week for up to fours hours at a time. The unit is divided into three treatment ‘rooms’ and we designed the mural to provide some variety by being different but congruent across the rooms.
Plenty of research has shown the benefits of nature and art for health, wellbeing and recovery, and I was delighted to be able to use my photography for such a worthwhile purpose.
As much as I love the edge of the land, with all the drama, power and mystery of the sea, I haven’t spent much time on the coast for a while. So it was great to re-acquaint myself on two recent visits. In the depths of winter (a wonderful time to be on the coast), four of us walked for 12 days along the edge of Victoria’s Croajingolong National Park, into New South Wales and Nadgee Nature Reserve. We didn’t rush, so there was plenty of time at the two ends of the day for immersion and photography in a rich landscape. A selection of ‘wilderness coast’ images can be seen in this gallery.
Then in August our family spent a week on the South Coast of New South Wales, in the Bawley Point-Kioloa area, wedged between two beautiful national parks – Meroo and Murramarang. Every morning before dawn, and some evenings, I’d sneak out to prowl some new section of coast with my camera. Thanks to so many conservationists and forward-looking governments, NSW is lucky to have extensive sections of coast that have not been marred with headland mansions and other blights. Some South Coast images can be seen in this gallery.
One of my images has been lucky enough to again be selected as a finalist in the 2018 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition. “Truncated” depicts a graceful Blue Mountains Ash (Eucalyptus oreades) on the escarpment at Mount Victoria, and was picked for the Botanical category. This competition gets tougher every year with an increasing number of entries, so its pleasing that one of my ‘humble trees’, from so close to home, got in the mix this time. You can see all the finalists here, and the exhibition opens at the Australian Museum (Sydney) and the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) on 24 August 2018.
On another front, an image of mine from the Pilliga will appear in The Wilderness Society’s 2019 Landscape Calendar, in support of the campaign against gas extraction from this important natural area. Its not just the gas, but the damage to underground water and the dismemberment of the landscape with hundreds of wells and hundreds of kilometres of roads that is at stake. You can read about the campaign here.
My new monochrome exhibition has been showing at Light and Shadow Fine Art Gallery at Leura since 30 May, and at least some works will be there into July. Natural Reflections includes some images from Edge of Light, with a number of new works. Small prints are also for sale. Light and Shadow was opened in February 2018 to showcase the work of iconic Australian photographer Max Dupain. The gallery will continue to exhibit Dupain mixed with other photographers. Its the only gallery dedicated to photography in the Sydney region…so I hope people will support it!
I was again delighted to have some of my images selected for these publications. Every year The Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation collaborate to put out a diary and a calendar to promote the values and importance of Australia’s wild places and wildlife. I’ve been contributing for many years and this time they selected 2 images for the calendar and 5 for the diary. This news is a bit late and I guess they’re not available any more…look out for the 2019 editions around October.
Seeping waterfall, West MacDonnell National Park, NT (from 2018 ACF Diary)
My next exhibition will open at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre on 1 December, running until the end of the month. This one is a departure for me, as Edge of Light is my first all-monochrome show. It features images from wild places I’ve explored, including the Blue Mountains (of course), New Zealand mountains, Tasmania, Greenland and Far North Queensland. Many photographs compare and contrast features from very different environments. I’ve been delving into B&W for a while, with both large format film and digital, and learned that only some images work for me in monochrome. Others just have to be in colour, while some can succeed in both modes with appropriate processing.
All images are for sale in limited editions, and some are also available in smaller prints. The Heritage Centre is down the end of Govetts Leap Road out of Blackheath, and is open 7 days, 9.00 to 4.30 (closed Christmas Day). I hope you enjoy it.
The Grand Canyon Track near Blackheath was opened in 1907 by NSW Premier Joseph Carruthers. The walk, now in Blue Mountains National Park, quickly grew in reputation as one of the great attractions of the area and was even compared to Jenolan Caves. The enchanting track traverses a deep and spectacular gorge filled with ferns, dark overhangs and running water.
Just over 100 years later, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service embarked on an ambitious restoration project. In nine years they replaced 2000 stone steps and many hundreds of metres of handrail and stairways. The 19th century construction was visionary but rough; the 21st century version, with helicopter assistance, is a masterpiece.
The track is now visited by 90,000 people a year, and was officially re-opened in October 2017 to wide acclaim. Part of the celebration involves a travelling exhibition exploring the history and heritage of one of the best walks in the Blue Mountains. The exhibition includes many historical photographs displayed for the first time.
As part of my ‘day job’, I was delighted to work on the research and content for the exhibition. Local designer Heath Killen turned it into something special. This evocative exhibition can be seen at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre (NPWS), end of Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath, until the end of November (7 days, 9.00 to 4.30) and hopefully at other venues later.
I was delighted to have my entry receive 2nd Place in the 2017 Blackheath Art Prize, an open competition run by the Blackheath Art Society. Of course art comps are always idiosyncratic and its no great shakes to win, or to ‘lose’ either, but it can mean at least one experienced art person thinks your work is of a high standard. And it was nice to have nature photography recognised against a swag of other styles of visual art (apples and oranges come to mind). The judge, Lee-Anne Hall from Penrith Regional Gallery, also gave a commendation a nature photograph by another artist.
My work was a large (61 x 76 cm) print of The clouds parted, Gangerang Range, a version of which happens to be on the cover of my 2018 Wild Blue Mountains Calendar. Its from a 4 x 5 inch transparency and a magical morning near Kanangra Walls. Ms Hall said that the image was “both technically brilliant and glorious. As with all good photography, the artist has waited to capture a moment in time – when clouds part to reveal the majesty of the mountains”.
Prints of the image are currently available at this size (edition of 10) for $750 (print only, unframed).
Next year’s calendar has landed. After the 2017 edition won a Diemen Award, I’m happy to say that the high quality of printing has been maintained. The cover of the 2018 edition features a dramatic morning scene in the Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness, and other images range through The Valley of the Waters (Wentworth Falls), Bindook Highlands, Grose Valley, Wollemi National Park, Mugii Murum-ban State Conservation Area (Capertee Valley) and the Gardens of Stone Two reserve proposal. I’m particularly pleased with the title page image of a Pacific Black Duck preening on Glenbrook Lagoon.
The calendar can be purchased direct from this website (see Publications) for $35 plus postage, with discounts for 3 or more copies, and from the usual retail outlets in the Blue Mountains.