Monthly Archives: July 2009

Davy and Sean

Last night I drank too much.

After rolling around Cairns getting a few last minute jobs done, I met up with Davy O’Rourke and Sean Davey at a pub just after the sun dropped. Davy is running Mama Coco in Cairns, having moved up in 2005 from Canberra. Mama Coco can be found at 196 Mulgrave Rd, Westcourt. If you’re in Cairns drop by and sort yourself out with some coffee and a feed.

When the fellas turned up I did a double take looking at Davy, then realised why I knew his face. I had seen him in some of Sean’s pictures. They are friends from way back, and have come together on a number of projects to make pictures. Now they are back in the same city, so trouble is afoot.

Sean Davey is a busy photographer.

A quick look at his website will show you that he is prolific, with a range of projects always on the go.

He has published a number of portfolios, small books and mounted some exhibitions in the last few years. His pictures have found their way into the permanent collections of major public institutions and been shown in public gatherings like the Miller St Soiree.

‘Pidgin’ is certainly a piece of work that gained quite a bit of attention, and stands as an excellent example of strong pictures made while working with close friends. I certainly have not hidden my enthusiasm for the work. The project follows two young men as they return to their mother’s country (Papua New Guinea) via a long road trip up the Australian East Coast. It is aggressive in its visual record, with booze and heavy tones dominating some of the pictures. And yet it is full of joy, a wonderfully complex set of photographs that is a testament to simply starting something, to throw yourself in and work (instead of looking for ‘photographs’). The limited edition book has received very positive reviews internationally. Anyone on the fence about getting a copy had better hurry up, as there were not many made.

Sean and I began sending messages to each other a while back, and we have finally met up.He has taken a contract with the Cairns Post this year, shooting all sorts of stories for them. It seems he is really happy with the move to the tropics. So it was beers in North Queensland, chilling out and enjoying the evening.

He has an exhibition coming up at a big gallery, but I’ll wait until it is announced through the proper channels before kisim piksa starts yapping about it. Suffice to say it will be something fantastic. I’m sure people will be knocked over by the work shown and the story behind it.

Anyone who whinges about a lack of depth or strength in Australian photography should start digging around and engaging with current workers. There is no shortage of people doing great work.

Isis and Freddy - the magnificent reception

Into Cairns on the way back north.

The joy of planes again.

The MGA show is still fresh in my head. They’ve done a great job.

The last week has cranked along. I’ve been doing the usual ‘pounding the footpath’, getting around to try and show people my pictures.

The highlight though was a stunning afternoon and evening celebrating the marriage of Isis and Fred in Sydney last weekend. It was brilliant, with a ton of people coming together to dance, drink and chat the night away. Of course the bride and groom were on top of the world. Couldn’t have been a bettter day.

After all the excitement I need to get my head back in the game, back to Moresby tomorrow, then out to Buka on the next available flight. So a picture is thrown in below to bring me back in line.

Sivuna, 2007



I headed out of Melbourne yesterday, rolling north to Sydney. The Camp Slayer show is up on the wall for another few weeks. It will be interesting to hear what happens during the rest of the hanging time. It is up until early August, and the big German show hanging out the front is not to be missed.

I need to take this time to thank the fabulous crew at the Monash Gallery of Art ( who have done some wonderful work and continue to support the show. It has been a pleasure to finally meet the people that have been on the end of a phone line for so long.

Mr Shaune Lakin, the Director. He chaired the roundtable discussion with Stephen Dupont, went on radio with me and has been generous with his time and advice. He’s in charge of a brilliant gallery with many exciting things ahead. I’m looking forward to following the MGA’s future programs.

Mr Stephen Zagala, the Curator. Zagala was the guy who guided this show through to the wall. His enthusiasm and support has been fantastic. Thank you Stephen, thank you.

Mr Omar Qaradaghi, the talented guy with the rototrim. He did such a magic job getting my photographs on the wall. The framing and presentation that he created are first rate.

Ms Stephanie Richter, the Education and Public Programs Coordinator. Stephanie has put up with me worrying about presentations, sending through random emails and even stealing pictures from her. In amongst it all she has organised the wonderful events around the Camp Slayer show.

Ms Amanda Thornton, the Program and Operations Manager. Ms Thornton has looked after all the official agreements and has made sure things rolled along on schedule. Thank goodness, because everyone knows what I’m like.

Mr Mark Hislop, the Communications Coordinator. Mr Hislop put together the fantastic invitation and the media releases that have accompanied the show and associated events. Graphic design and the skills that go with it are a mystery to me, and i’m always thankful when there is someone there able to make things look sweet.

Ms Stella Loftus-Hills was always a friendly face when I’d wander into the MGA. It’s amazing how something like a warm welcome can make a place so inviting (and no longer scary), and help people get in amongst the work and enjoy their visit.

All the hard workers in the cafe for the great coffee and the volunteers who give  their time and enthusisam to the MGA get a massive wrap. Big respect.

(c) Stephen Dupont

The MGA have been amazing in their support and enthusiasm for showing and discussing pictures.

On Saturday the crew put together another public event while my show is up, and invited me to be a part of a round table discussion. The killer though is the panel that I had the pleasure to share the forum with.

Mr Shaune Lakin, the director of the MGA, chaired the discussion of ‘Photography in Contemporary Conflict’. Shaune’s experience at the Australian War Memorial, being in charge of the photographic archive, gives him a strong grounding and his large published work ‘Contact’ is a fantastic point of reference for a variety of work from places of conflict that Australians have been involved in. The guest of the show was Stephen Dupont. Dupont is a winner of both the Robert Capa Medal and the W.Eugene Smith Award. His work in Afghanistan (as just one example of his photography) has been a long term commitment, with the more recent trips for ‘Narcostan’ becoming quite frightening with a close call to an explosive device. I’m on the panel presenting another type of experience and method of exploring it photographically, so the panel was not a repetitive animal.

We kicked off at 2pm with a good turnout of people attending to participate. Shaune got the ball rolling, introducing the players, getting everyone comfortable and giving some direction to the discussion. He kept things focused, asked great questions and offered insight gained from his work. Dupont was amazing in his composure and ability to discuss his work. This is a reflection of his commitment and sustained practice. I spoke about my reasons for being in Iraq, briefly describing the team that I was involved with and the work we did. The thing went well. Questions spun around and I think the participating public enjoyed themselves.

It was a little daunting, but so exciting and eye opening to be a participant.

Both the MGA and I recorded the event. I understand that the magazine ‘Photofile’ will be publishing a transcript of the discussion in an upcming issue (obviously no promises, just a rumour I heard). For those on a fast connection and who enjoy listening in, I have made an 80MB MP3 file available for download here.

I have not done anything to the file other than pump the gain a little, so it is rough with all the coughs and noise left in. The discussion runs for a little over one hour and twenty minutes.

Once we finished everyone went their seperate ways. I ended up sitting in Joyce Evans’ house in Toorak, staring at the collection of works on display, marvelling at things like an Elliot Erwitt on one wall, a Steiglitz down the hall, stunning paintings friom people she knows and admires, and a great selection of her own work. Neil McLeod was over for dinner, and I got to look through one of his books and hear stories from the many years he has spent working in Australia and abroad.

Of course, being bowled over by the day, I left the camera stuffed away in my bag and just soaked it in.

Get over to Dupont’s site, as well as the agencies ‘Contact Press’ and ‘Degree South’. You could spend days digging around looking at pictures. Days well spent.

(c) Stephanie Richter MGA

A little event today at the MGA. I gave a short presentation on the Camp Slayer work, discussing the photographs and the circumstances surrounding them. Those attending asked some good questions, and I hope got something out of the presentation.

Once it was all done, I headed over to Monash University to try and find a friend. Clive Porabou, a Nasioi man who has made a number of documentaries and has been very kind to me every time we have met up in Bougainville, was in town for a conference and a screening of his most recent work. I walked around the uni looking for him, as I wasn’t sure where he was. But, in the usual round-about way we ended up  bumping into each other and had a lovely chat, catching up and telling stories. He’s suffering with the cold, but seems in great spirits.

David Hempenstall and Clive Porabou

PBS 1067 FM - banner

Last night Mr Shaune Lakin and I were plugged in and chatting with Mr Mark Williams on the PBS 106.7FM arts show ‘The Opening’.

We had a great little talk. Mr Lakin was excellent, describing the German show ‘presentation/representation: photography from Germany’, and helping me out with the discussion of the Camp Slayer pictures. He was very kind with his words about my work, and I got the chance to describe how I got to the point of making them.

Mark Williams was great, going easy on me during my first radio gig. Adrian was the guru on the desk, twiddling knobs and running everything, and Lucy was our wrangler out the front, getting us where we needed to be and giving a great little description of PBS and where they had come from.

The station streams live from their site, as well as having past shows available for listening. The site is well worth exploring. Fantastic content and stuff that many people would not come across through the regular grind.

The crew at PBS 106.7FM were kind enough to give me a file of the interview, so it is here on Kisim Piksa for download. Thanks to Jim in PBSFM production for the extra effort. It is an MP3, so you should be able listen to it on just about any device. The file is just under 5MB, and can be downloaded here.


After leaving the studio I pulled my beanie down over my ears and walked into the city (only from Collingwood). I had my doubts in the decision due to the brisk (freezing) Melbourne evening, but it paid off when I bumped into some young guys breakdancing in a space just off the street. I wish I was flexible enough, strong enough and fit enough to be able to do this stuff, let alone be bold enough to try it. I’ve been fascinated with it since I was a little kid, but never did the hard work to get any good.

Monash Gallery of Art

The MGA has a number of events and media spots that are running this week with Camp Slayer. I’ve listed a few below, and will endevour to get copies to be posted in this journal. Any more that pop up will be listed.

Tuesday 07 July 2009 7pm: A discussion on the radio arts segment ‘THE OPENING’ on PBSFM (106.7FM). Mr Shaune Lakin (MGA Director) and I will be discussing the work hanging in the MGA at present.

Thursday 09 July 2009 3pm: Artist Talk at the MGA. I will be chatting about the Camp Slayer pictures, the background to the work and the making of it. See the MGA website for details.

Saturday 11 July 2009 2pm: Roundtable discussion with Mr Shaune Lakin (director of the MGA) and Mr Stephen Dupont (Contact Press, Degree South) and little old me on ‘Photography in Contemporary Conflict’. This one is going to be really interesting. With Mr Lakin’s background as the Head of Photos at the Australian War Memorial, and Mr Dupont’s extensive experience working in areas of conflict, I think the discussion will be robust and exciting. Dupont is a winner of both the Robert Capa Medal and the W. Eugene Smith Award, so we’ve got a heavy hitter turning up.

The press release can be downloaded here.

Hopefully the attending public will participate enthusiastically with questions, comments and thoughts. A wonderful opportunity.

Camp Slayer opening @ MGA

Camp Slayer opened on Saturday at the Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne.

The crew at the MGA have done a fantastic job putting the pictures on the wall. It sits well in the space they chose, and the little prints mounted together in larger panels surprised me.

Camp Slayer opening @ MGA

The opening was a relaxed affair, with friends and family mixing in to boost the crowd and hopefully tip public opinion in my favour. The show of contemporary German work in the large space next to the entrance is fantastic. Some brilliant photographs, beautifully arranged and hung, with some great diversity in the pictures. Obviously Matthias Koch’s pictures were stunning, great to have seen them in person rather than reproduced via screen or book. If you are around Melbourne while it is hanging, get out to see this show  of excellent international work.

Melbourne tram

The evening then took a decidedly Victorian turn as we rode the trams around to end up watching the game between the West Melbourne Bulldogs and the Hawthorn Hawks (Australian Rules Football for those not familair). It was an absolute blow-out, with the  Bulldogs destroying the Hawks. The first quarter set the tone, and by half time it was virtually over. Mum was happy to see her team doing well.


Of course a few of us ended up in a pub, a quiet drink before crawling into bed around 1am.

Camp Slayer @ MGA

Well, I am a thief.

Stephanie Richter of the Monash Gallery of Art (Education and Public Programs Coordinator) was kind enough to let me know that the gallery had posted an installation picture of Camp Slayer up on the MGA blog.

So of course I had to rush over and have a look, as well as steal the picture from their blog for Kisim Piksa.

The photo above shows 8 of the 11 framed panels in the show. The MGA have remounted the whole body of work and presented it in this fashion. Looks interesting, certainly a different take on the work. Love it when a curator grabs something, puts their own stamp on it and gets things happening. Makes the show less sterile and predictable for me.

I will be really interested to see how the images have been sequenced and the contents of each panel. No doubt I’ll find things I was not aware of, relationships I wasn’t clued up enough to find.

Opens tomorrow……. is up and official. The fireworks, the celebrities, the fanfare and paparazzi…. overwhelming.

The site has been up for a good while now as we’ve worked on a few things. Phil Fitzgerald, the very talented designer and producer (, has tinkered and played to make my scratches in the sand into something decent. Big respect.

This journal is the place to drop by and find news on exhibitions, projects, other photographers, events, scandals, and the general drudgery of being a hack photographer.

New additions to the site will be announced here, and multimedia content will be available for download once I get my brain around the complicated nature of it all.


The proper launch of the site coincides with the doors opening on the Camp Slayer show at the Monash Gallery of Art in Melbourne ( Vey exciting. The official opening is this Saturday (4th July 2009), all are welcome to come along and heckle! My snaps are hanging along with a selection of pictures from ten contemporary German workers on the other side of the gallery.