The 1990’s: turning to colour

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In going through my archives of the 1990s I can see that I had started using colour film in that period, and I was having the negatives developed by Atkins Lab.

Street Beach, Southbank, Brisbane, 1996

The turn to colour came about because it was around this time that I dropped the Leica M4 whilst I was in Brisbane –the thin leather camera strap snapped and the rangefinder camera fell onto the concrete floor of the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. No darkroom and a broken Leica spelt the end of the black and white snapshot approach to my photography.

During the 1990s Suzanne and I would visit her mother in Encounter Bay, and I occasionally made the odd portrait of them:

Majorie + Suzanne, Encounter Bay, 1995

Travelling from Adelaide to Encounter Bay is hardly a road trip, but like many others, we would sometimes go down there to stay for a weekend. When we did I’d go wandering along the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula carrying an old Technika 70 camera and tripod.

Dep’s Beach, Waitpinga, 1997

Between 1993 and 1997 Majorie provided us with a place to stay on the weekend, thereby enabling me to discover this sparsely populated coast as a day tourist. I thought then that the Fleurieu Peninsula had a pretty impressive, and under appreciated, coastline. These landscape photos–above and below– would have be seen as conventional tourist images.

The enduring prejudice against colour photography by both art photographers and the art institution was still quite strong. From memory, colour photography was still seen as belonging to the commercial realms of advertising and fashion. Though the Tasmanian-based wilderness photographers were consistently photographing with colour film in the 1980s, their work was deemed to be outside the art institution.

coastline from Rosetta Head, 1997

 Of course, hand colouring –eg., by Robyn Stacey, Ruth Maddison, Mickey Allen in the 1980s –was celebrated by the art institution as innovative, if not, ground breaking art photography. Innovative because these works combined two different forms of image making?

2 Responses

  1. Pavel P.
    | Reply

    interesting read

  2. […] suburban beaches to escape the summer heat in Bowden, explorations around Port Adelaide, trips to Victor Harbor (and Kangaroo Island), and the Mt Lofty Ranges, trips to the South Australian Mallee and the […]

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