The Delicate Trace – photography by John Bennett & Julia Morrell
It’s actually the Precious Trace. Opening night is Saturday March 1st at 6.00pm through to Saturday April 5th, Matilda Street Gallery, Macksville.The Precious Trace looks at how these two photographers present their photography beyond the traditional frame.
Louis Daguerre and Henry Fox Talbot, the pioneers of photography, viewed this new technology as replacing the task of drawing by hand. Fox Talbot, using a camera lucida to sketch the beauty of Lake Como in autumn 1833, “found that the faithless pencil had only left traces on the paper melancholy to behold” (The Pencil of Nature). Photography freed painting to become abstract, but painting was envied by photographers and they learnt from painting. Pictorialism aimed to be as artistic as paint on a canvas (e.g. Edward Steichens’s platinum prints c1900), but the desire to record form in photography changed with Modernism into the desire to generate form and experiment.
Now we just think of photographs as natural; anyone can take one with a mobile phone. Photography is ubiquitous, not only in selfies, on Instagram and Facebook, but also advertising and journalism – we can’t get enough. Photographs have a strange reality so that even a snapshot found on the pavement can be enticing. These walls are covered in art because this is an art gallery, but photography as a fine art merges into a functional art. Some of my images have been used by local tourist bodies and NSW National Parks, for example.
This show looks at various ways of presenting photographic images, rather than just framed singly. How an image is presented affects its reception.
My landscapes trace the experience of being in a particular place at a particular time and that combination constructs a particular image. The majority of my work as a poet and photographer aims to capture nature in the unfolding moment. This immediacy plays against the fact that art is seen in retrospect – time can stop, you can return to an artwork.
Through natural aesthetics, by which I mean experiencing either: nature directly (immersion with all the senses) and creating; or appreciating art using natural processes or representations, we can come to appreciate nature. We are so alienated from natural processes and environments and this loss of intimacy has meant the natural environment is succumbing to our domination.
John Bennett moved from Sydney’s Inner West up to the Mid North Coast a few years ago, and feels so lucky to be living here. He has a PhD in poetics and is a widely published poet who has won and judged major Australian prizes. Since leaving Sydney University he has been working on literary projects with the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival, the Solitary Islands Marine Park and Saltwater /Freshwater, and writing about nature.
John is increasingly interested in embedding poems in the image to enrich both image and text. Recent exhibitions of his photographs/ videos/ poems have been held at: the Pop-Up Gallery. Nexus, Bellingen, NPWS Heritage Centre, Blackheath; Matilda St Gallery, Macksville, and the