Adelaide, archives, urban


August 27, 2022

Reconnectiong with a forgotten past that has haunted me for 7 years or more does encourage me to do more walking with a large format photography in Adelaide’s CBD. Due to the scanning problem I’d only scratched the surface whilst I was I living in, and walking the city for 10 years or so, during the first two decades of the 21st century. Basically, I could pick up from where I’d left off.

From what I can gather there is not much large format urban photography being done in Australia —these days large format is primarily Victorian based and it is mostly either wilderness photography or a photography of nature. Why this is the cultural centre or core of contemporary large format photography in Australia I have no idea. I puzzle over what is left unsaid: why aren’t the photographers using large format photographing the cities they live in; rather than walking and camping in the national parks, or the more remote wilderness parts of Australia? Why have they turned away from the urban to nature? It’s a puzzle.

Globe, East End, Adelaide CBD

An exception to this dominate cultural strand is Martin Mischkulni’s impressive Smalltown project (exhibition and book circa 2009) that was made with an 8×10 monorail + colour film. However, this project is a photographic exploration of regional Australia rather than of urban Australia. The photographs in Smalltown are of the rural towns and the remote and sparsely populated places in Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory — places, such as Port Hedland, which have been shaped by the economic flows of of industrial modernity. These are places that are still devalued by Australian society.

Another exception is Greg Wayn’s wonderful Industrials series of the 1990s and his black and white study of the abandoned Amcor factory in Melbourne. Wayn also made a colour version. But that is as much as I know about the urban exceptions to the wilderness core of contemporary large format photography in Australia after modernism.

The upshot from the above scanning success that reconnected me with walking the CBD with large format urban camera is that I’m encouraged to start to plan and scope out a new photo-session with the 5×7 monorail whilst walking the CBD. It’s a good time to do so, as the CBD is rapidly changing with the 19th century city being replaced with high rise apartments.

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  • Reply Stuart August 28, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    I’m too lazy to scan my 5×4 work, indeed my Hasselblad work too. Even so I haven’t pulled out my 5×4 for a while time being a factor lockdowns another. I’m soon to have plenty of free time, so we shall see what eventuates.

    • Reply Gary Sauer-Thompson August 29, 2022 at 6:38 pm

      Hi Stuart, I find that it is always an effort and a hassle to take the large format gear out into the field. It is much easier to leave it at home–especially a monorail. It is going to require a lot of effort and planning to start to use the 5×7 in Adelaide’s CBD again, especially now that I live on the southern coast, which is over an hours drive by car.

  • Reply Doug Spowart August 29, 2022 at 6:30 pm

    Ahh… nothing like upgrading technology and finding lost stuff…
    Do you still shoot 5×7 …
    I’ve got some neg sleeves to pass on…

    • Reply Gary Sauer-Thompson August 29, 2022 at 6:33 pm

      Doug, Yes, I still use 5×7. I have just bought a box of Porta 160 ASA. I’m in desperate need of 5×7 negative sleeves. I would gladly welcome what you have. Are you able to post them. (I’ll pay for the postage). Do you have my postal address?

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