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Sense of Place

Curated by Shawn Waldron
24th October – 4th November

After visiting the site of her childhood home, Gertrude Stein famously wrote, “…there is no there there.” As Stein went on to explain, the places we occupy are often unremarkable and mundane; it is the interactions in these places (or their memory) that define them for individuals. In photographic terms, every location has the potential to be recorded: light meeting subject can happen anywhere. For the five photographers shown here, however, the role of location takes on an added weight.

Alan Powdrill’s photographs are portraits of unseen subjects. A modest table for two awaits diners; a lorry overnights at a petrol station; a pair of wedding bouquets are thoughtlessly tossed on a sofa. Absent people, these quiet tableaux are heavy with subtext. On the other hand, Brit Worgan’s scenes from Phoenix’s annual Gay Rodeo completely avoid metaphor. The rodeo’s participants stage their own version of a familiar Western ritual in order to challenge cultural norms and make a strong statement of belonging.

Hamada Hideaki uses the camera as a memory tool. Often captured while traveling with his young family, Hamada’s photographs subtly record their location through a combination of visual clues and atmospherics. Hollie Fernando’s dreamy and romantic compositions also rely on atmospherics, but as a means to explore emotional, non-physical places. The final artist of the group, Arielle Bobb-Willis, embraces location as a creative partner. Taking cues from the available urban landscape, Bobb-Willis presents her brightly clothed subjects interacting with their environment in mind-bending and abstract contortions.

All works on display were shot on film, a deliberate choice by the photographers given the modern digital professional environment. They choose film primarily as an aesthetic preference; film vs digital no longer being an either/or decision. Working with film also has a beneficial side effect both in the camera and darkroom: analog materials tend to slow the creative process and allow for additional space to focus on lighting, timing and the overall image.