Tasmanian Tales has now been released as a movie on YouTube and as a book through Blurb.
Tasmania. Australia’s island state. It’s the little bit off of the south-eastern coast that most people forget about. So what’s it all about then? Join me as I travel the island and make written and photographic observations as I do so.
A photograph to illustrate one of the most mis-quoted pieces of poetry.
“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the Spider to the Fly,
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show you when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the Fly, “to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin;
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”
Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend, what can I do
To prove that warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome – will you please take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”
“Sweet creature,” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
If you step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say;
And bidding good morning now, I’ll call another day.”
The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again;
So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the Fly.
then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple, there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are as dull as lead.”
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew, –
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head – poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den
Within his little parlor – but she ne’er came out again!
And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne’er heed;
Unto an evil counsellor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.
Canon EOS550d, Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro, Canon Speedlite 430EX with Stofen Omnibounce. Exposure: Aperture priority, 1/100 s at f/11.0 ISO 800.
… feel lacking in impetus? Want to try something different but aren’t sure where to start?
Well I have a solution for you. For the price of producing a postcard sized piece of work and some postage you could end up part of an international art movement, be blogged about and be part of an exhibition. No I’m not from Nigeria and I don’t need your bank account details. I’m inviting you to participate in the wonderful world of Mail Art and more particularly the Book About Death Australia project.
Now if you want a very wordy definition of Mail Art click on the link. But basically Mail Art is art you send in the mail, or post for non US readers. There are no rights or wrongs, very few rules and everyone who participates seems to be happy and have fun. It’s often said to be some sort of anarchistic hippy activity, but that seems a little bit too condescending and simple. Someone organises a project and the word spreads through a loosely organised network such as Mail Arts Projects or the International Union Of Mail Artists. Usually there is a theme but how you interpret that and using what medium is largely up to you. The projects may be exhibited, blogged about or even disseminated as an artists assembling book or any combination of those.
A Book About Death was a mail art project that didn’t want to end. Originally conceived by Matthew Rose the project was part homage to the American artist Ray Johnson and a celebration of Emily Harvey and was held at the Emily Harvey Foundation, New York, in September 2009. The project attracted contributions from artist from all over the world, some like Yoko Ono were internationally renown artists the majority were not, but they were all given equal attention. My partner Helen took part and for one reason and another I didn’t. It quickly became a global sensation and I kicked myself that I had not got involved. Then a curious thing happened, the project kept being reborn like a phoenix all over the world and I got involved with A Book About Death Omaha in 2010. The concept is still alive and kicking and is now coming to Australia.
What I like about Mail Art is that although I only do a couple of projects a year it allows me be experimental and do things I wouldn’t normally. Don’t feel limited, play with different mediums, write, draw, sculpt , collage, photograph or any combination. Nothing is wrong, everything is accepted. Above all have FUN and enjoy participating.
My contributions are already in and have been blogged. So how about it? Give it ago. Who knows what it will bring.
Recently things have made me question why I take photos. Despite our protestations that we take photos to make art the real reason is not so grand. When I first picked up a camera to take pictures in my own right I had no idea that photography was even considered as an art form. When I was eighteen and about to go travelling with my girlfriend and my parents gave me a Kodak Instamatic to take with me. So my first reason to take pictures was to record the things I’d see and be able to show them to people who could not be there. When I returned home and got the films developed and printed I was both thrilled and disappointed at the same time. Thrilled because of the experiences I was able to share and disappointed because they could have been so much better. This prompted me to buy a succession of better cameras and learn a lot more about photography, but my primary focus (excuse the pun) was to document the things that I felt were important. This is by no means unique to me and it is the reason why the majority of the world’s photographs are taken.
“Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees”
A photograph is a memory in physical form (if it is printed that is). Memories can be fleeting, my earliest ones are very indistinct ghostly impressions in my thoughts. Other memories such as my wedding day are more concrete and fully formed and consistent. Memories can be happy refuges where we can enter a contented almost blissful state when we allow ourselves to revel in them. Other memories are darker and more sinister and they are often repressed as it is too painful to dwell on them only for them to surface at inopportune times. Photos are aides-mémoires, we take them to supplement our view and experiences of the world and share them with others. Gerry Badger in his book The Genius Of Photography describes how the picture itself instantly becomes the subject of memory and provides the certainty that something actually existed. A photograph is capable of transporting back in time or to a far-flung location or establishing contact with someone long since dead. We can experience events that we never lived through, I can vividly recall the Normandy D-Day landings in 1944 even though I was not even born then thanks to the visceral photos of Robert Capa. Photography creates and shapes stories, it helps defines the morals and context of the world we live in. I have in my possession photos of family members whom I have never met, in fact some were only a faint memory for my parents and grandparents. From the photos I can learn about them and discover things that we have in common although we are separated by time and geography. The photos provide me a context for my life and a point of reference.
By all means continue to make photographic art, but do not forget to take record shots of your life and the lives of those who are nearest and dearest to you. Also let others take photographs of you doing what you enjoy and being with who you love as these photos are far more important than any art we may create, they will form part of your families collective memory and allow both you and them to live on.