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‘These images – many of which are deeply jarring, sit alongside other, more restful bodies of work, such as the Littoral and Limnal series of intertidal zones, sites which are described by the artist as “owned by both the sea and the land.” The female nude is also a strong feature of Austin’s work, and often these strong women are featured within the forest environment, standing at odds with the destruction present in the Forest Witness: Threnody and Conflict series.
Survey II also features a collection of the artists snapshots, together described as Eclection where the photographer speaks of waiting for the story to emerge. As Sarah Drummond suggests in her essay, these snapshots document a part of the artist’s life.
Together, the works in this exhibition present a sense of documentation on a greater scale. As artistic objects, their balance and beauty draw the viewer in and present a unique take on the familiar iconography of the South West. The value of these work also extend beyond the artistic to the cultural. Presented together their stylistic cohesion present a clear and personal cultural record of the environment and cultural milleau in which they exist, from the perspective of a photographer who has carefully tuned his work and sensibilities.
All of the images are shot on film, and processed in Austin’s Quinninup darkroom studio, Austin is known for working exclusively with fine silver-gelatin black and white prints, normally from large format cameras, and this sustained engagement and ongoing refinement of the technical processes of his craft results in a cohesive oeuvre, which, although spanning a broad range of subjects, present a clear vision through the eye of the photographer’.
Mandurah Art Gallery. Western Australia. 12 October – 25 November 2018
John Austin’s career in photography spans over a 45 year period, during which time he has held over eleven solo exhibitions and been featured in multiple groups shows. His work is part of numerous collections including the National Portrait Gallery, National Library of Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Curtin University of Technology and Bunbury Regional Art Galleries.
Main photograph: Goblin Swamp 1997. Silver gelatin print. John Austin.
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