Pilbara Project Prize Winners!

To celebrate the launch of the inaugural Pilbara Project exhibition 52 Weeks On FORM gave away two hardback copies of the limited edition publication The Pilbara Project: Field Notes and Photographs Collected over 2010, and two prints from the book by feature exhibition photographers Tony Hewitt and Christian Fletcher. Winners were drawn from new or renewed members during the 52 Weeks On exhibition.

Membership Print Winner #1
Andrew Auret, on behalf of ABN Group from Perth (Group Membership)
Congratulations on winning on Salt, Dampier by Christian Fletcher

Membership Print Winner #2
Rebecca Clarkson from Perth
Congratulations on winning ‘Tidal Creek’ Dampier by Tony Hewitt (Individual Membership)

Membership Book Winner #1
Steve Harris of West Perth (Individual Membership)

Membership Book Winner #2
Suzette Worden from Perth (Individual Membership)

Pilbara Project SLR Camera Winners

To celebrate the launch of the inaugural Pilbara Project exhibition 52 Weeks On, FORM and the Courthouse Gallery each gave away a digital SLR camera. Winners were drawn from postcards handed into each of the galleries.

FORM Gallery Pilbara Project Camera Winner
Sarah Hope from Perth

Courthouse Gallery Pilbara Project Camera Winner
Petra Kerr from Port Hedland

Pilbara Survey Winner
Amber Fletcher from Port Hedland
Congratulations on winning Industrial Lines 7 by Peter Eastway

A special thank-you to the Artists for their generosity with the Artwork.


Principle Partner:

True Pilbara Colours

Went to the FORM Gallery in Perth today to this amazing Exhibition. I just loved the geometry of all the photos, all lines and curves and true pilbara colours. The simplicity and design were so inspirational and I loved Michael Fletchers film, especially the time lapse shots at night.

I had to buy the book and was thrilled to see my name in print and my blog as the first story in the book.

Thank you, it made my day and I am very proud to have been apart of the Pilbara Project.

Regards,

Maureen Allert

Pilbara Project Exhibition opening at FORM Gallery

On February 10, the Pilbara Project launched its first exhibition “52 Weeks On: A Pilbara Project Exhibition” at the newly renovated FORM Gallery in Perth.  The exhibition also opened the following night at the Courthouse Gallery in Port Hedland, details shown on the previous blog post here.

Tony speaking along with the rest of the artists

The exhibition features new photography and film by renowned artists Les Walkling, Tony Hewitt, Christian Fletcher, Michael Fletcher and Peter Eastway.  It is curated by William L. Fox, Director of the Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art.  More details on the exhibition can be found here.

Squeezing in to see Michael's film launch

Les talking with filmmaker Curtis Taylor

Hon Troy Buswell MLA opening the exhibition

The book launch for “The Pilbara Project: Field Notes and Photographs Collected over 2010” was also a great success, with the artists on hand for signing.

Photographs by Michelle Taylor


52 Weeks On: A Pilbara Project Exhibition Opening Night

On the evening of Friday the 11th of February roughly 450 people attended the opening of 52 Weeks On: A Pilbara Project Exhibition at the Port Hedland Courthouse Gallery. Throughout the evening words such as “stunning”, “vibrant” and “breathtaking” were used to describe the beautiful and awe-inspiring photographs presented in the exhibition. Adding to the experience was the magnificent film created by talented videographer Michael Fletcher titled A Pilbara Project which documents the three journeys the five artists (Les Walkling, Christian Fletcher, Michael Fletcher, Peter Eastway, and Tony Hewitt) undertook through the Pilbara for 52 weeks.

52 Weeks On: A Pilbara Project Exhibition runs at the Courthouse Gallery until 7 April 2011. Come in and have a walk through and feel free to stay and watch the movie screening in the back gallery room.

More photos on the Port Hedland opening can be found here

The exhibition is also on view at the FORM Gallery in Perth.  More information about this opening event will be coming shortly.

Peter Eastway Clip

The consummate professional, Peter Eastway is no Grand Master of Photography for nothing. A great communicator like Les and Tony, Peter has an air of class associated with him. This certainly doesn’t get in the way of him having a good time and he certainly kept everyone entertained with his dry wit and sarcasm which I could never quite determine from a serious conversation.

I decided that every thing Peter said required a hint of skepticism to his real meaning.

Peter is the editor of a number of photographic magazines and has had the fortune to use almost every camera that has ever been released in recent times. His knowledge on the craft of photography is very thorough and is a great source of information to any photographer. Check him out at petereastway.com

Hope you enjoy his short promo

All shot on the Canon 5D mk2 using Canon Lenses.

Cast of Characters (Belated Observations)

I wrote this a couple weeks ago, intending to post it, and just today realised that I neglected to do so.  As many of you know, a group of professional photographers and students traipsed through the Pilbara maniacally taking photos – some of which have been appearing on this blog the past couple weeks.

It has been very humbling traveling with the group of photographers including Peter Eastway, Les Walkling, Tony Hewitt, Christian Fletcher and filmmaker Michael Fletcher.  It allowed me to not only see through my own eyes, but also over the shoulder and through the viewfinder of these great imagemakers.  I am trying to decide if it is a comfort or discouragement that even they at times had difficulty capturing what lay before us in the Pilbara.

Christian Fletcher, the fearless leader, is well known to many in the Hedland community from his workshops and many trips to the area.  Knowing the area well, he brought together a superb group of photographers for this project.  While there was great camaraderie and banter between the artists, there was definitely friendly competition as well.  However, Christian was always there to make sure things didn’t become either too serious or silly.  Forever the teacher, he would talk his way through the photographing process, with the students hovering around picking up his knowledge.

Les Walkling, scientist and intellectual, saved his energy by avoiding frivolous banter.  But when he spoke, everyone listening dropped their jaw in either amazement or incomprehension.  A great teacher like Christian, he navigated the balance between technical prowess and conceptual thinking more than anyone else I have worked with, and was more than happy to share this knowledge. When he took a photo, he also became a photo, striking an epic figure in the landscape.

Tony Hewitt was the hardest for me to photograph.  Being primarily a portrait photographer, he would restlessly move in and out of the other people.  Unlike the landscape photographers who set up in a prime vantage point, he would look for the stories in the land as though he were taking a portrait.  A consummate mediator and generous of spirit, he always made sure the group was happy.  This is why he is one of the most sought-after photographers and public speakers in Western Australia.

Like Tony, Peter Eastway was also difficult for me to track.  He would immediately disappear when we reached a new location.  After a bit of searching, he could  be found in a prime location away from the others, discovering a sublime panorama or a gentle image of solitude in the vast horizon.  He  knew when he had a good picture, and didn’t waste his time if the light wasn’t perfect or the feeling wasn’t there.  These skills of discernment help make him one of Australia’s best photographers, as well as publisher of two of the most important Australian photography magazines.

Michael Fletcher, like most great filmmakers, studies how the scenery unfolds.  He can predict when something interesting is about to happen, and be at the perfect place to capture it.  Always watching, silently listening, he looks for the subtle moments or dramatic events that a single frame cannot interpret.  Working with manual focus, which is unique to many filmmakers, he is able to articulate the point between the vastness and intimacy of the landscape.

What reminded me I haven’t posted the above thoughts yet was that Mags from FORM just left for the Pilbara today with a new batch of professionals – two writers, a poet, a painter and another photographer.  I look forward to seeing and reading what they experience.  However, we will not forget the above mentioned photographers (and filmmaker), all of which promised to return to the Pilbara again soon.

Plains, Trains and Automobiles

Port Hedland Train Across the Salt Flats

We arrived at the edge of the mine early in the morning. There’s a public road heading out to the coast and no fences, so we walked out onto the edge of the salt to await the sunrise. The pond behind us was full of water and mirror smooth, so we had all took the obligatory sunrise shot, but it was looking away from the sun that had more interest for most of us.

‘We’ included Christian and Michael Fletcher, Tony Hewitt and Les Walkling. Also in attendance were our Port Hedland locals – Simon, Faye, Judith and Nicole, but I did note they were a little late on this particular morning. Maybe they didn’t think us city slickers could get up so early!!

I have to say, photographing these amazing salt ponds is not easy. They look fantastic, but finding the perfect angle that encompasses the space and colour is tricky. I was playing with my Alpa TC with 23mm wide-angle when a train rolled along as the sun rose. You could hardly see the train with the ultra wide-angle, so I dashed back to my camera bag to grab the Phase One and 300mm lens and took a few frames.

The light is very flat on the subject, but its warmth really contrasts well with the cool light of the sky, and the light reflected from the sky onto the white salt flats. White? Yep, the salt is completely white, but that’s our brains getting in the way of what was really there, a beautiful, pure blue light, with pink tinges flowing through.

So, we have the salt plain, the long train, where are the automobiles? I had to time my frame as it was peak hour at Port Hedland with a constant stream of utes and vans driving into town. I have blurred cars in a few frames, but preferred this one without.

The Pro’s

Here are some of the photos I took of the Pro’s in action.

The Pro's: Tony, Mike (or is that Christian?) Peter and Les

“OK, now let’s act normal”

After the “real” photo was taken the (colour co-ordinated, arms folded, looking off into the distance); it was time for the guys to act normal. Laugh, joke and takeout knee caps with Ninja Karate chops….!

Acting Normal

Battle Stations! When the car stop, it is every man for himself! A flurry of activity to get cameras, tripods and the best vantage point

The Cool Fletcher. Even on the hot salt flats Mike still manages to be cool.

Pete on the salt.

Christian and Tony shooting from the top of a rocky hill

Amazing Thunderstorm

Photo by Peter Eastway

It was pretty hot yesterday. On the road it was definitely 50C due to the heat radiated by the back bitumen, but possibly the official temperature was closer to 43C or 44C. Either way it was hot and in the mid afternoon, I was quite comfortable, cocooned in our 4WD with the air conditioning on full blast.

As we drove towards the Marble Bar turnoff from Pardoo Station, we watched a wet season thunderstorm grow and develop. The road seemed to be skirting around the edge of the weather cell and in the distance we could see some willy-willies forming – small tornados of red dust climbing into the dark sky above. As photographers, it was more than we could resist.

We found a side road that lead to a slightly raised vantage point above the Pilbara plain. Thunder rolled ominously as we walked around the flanks of a small hill in the stifling heat, but heat was the furthest thing from our mind as we watched Nature unfurl the most remarkable display I can remember. Lightning ripped through the cloud mass, starting spot fires on the grassy plain, and the willy-willies merged into a minor dust storm, picking up red earth in its path. It felt like we were on the edge of a huge amphitheatre.

They say that travelling in the North West during the wet season isn’t necessarily a good idea because of the heat and the wet, but after our experience today, that little gem of advice has been relegated to the dust bin. Simply amazing!

Peter Eastway

A New Pilbara Experience

Feb. 1, 2010.  Today is my first day of work.  I recently joined the team at FORM out of desire to work in regional Australia.  However, my prior experience traveling in Western Australia hasn’t brought me further North than the beaches of Dongara, further East than the farming communities surrounding Northam, or further South than the wineries enveloping Margaret River.

Previous to making Australia my home, I lived for a couple years in the Northern desert region of Mexico where I taught art at a University in Hermosillo.  When I first entered Mexico, I considered myself primarily a painter, with photography playing a supporting role.  After months of struggling to find my way with paint, photography soon became my dominant means to interpret the world around me.  The sublime landscape was filled with contradictions, bending my logic of space, colour and texture.  But rather than try capture what can’t be contained, my lens would find its way to the periphery, the small edges and ruptures appearing on the endless horizon.

Now after living in Australia for a couple years, the smell of oils and turpentine once again pervade my studio.  We will soon see if the Pilbara air has the same affect on me as the Sonoran Desert.

I lived in a new development on the outskirts of Hermosillo where cinderblock houses were erected daily in the liminal space between the city and the desert.

Day 1: Not long after we landed in Port Hedland, the group of photographers and filmmakers spread throughout the port.  The group includes Peter Eastway, Les Walkling, Tony Hewitt, Christian Fletcher, Michael Fletcher and local P.H.otography graduates Nicole, Simon, Faye and Judith.

Day 1: Peter Eastway shooting around Port Hedland

Day 1: Harbour tour of Port Hedland

Day 2: Making our way to Karratha

Day 2: Stopping at every panoramic view along the way

Day 2: Les Walkling in Cossack

Day 2: Michael Fletcher and P.H.otography graduates

Day 3: Tony Hewitt and Christian Fletcher touring the Dampier Archipelago

Day 4: Storm chasing on the way to Marble Bar

Day 4: Evening shoot at Marble Bar

Day 5: Morning shoot at Marble Bar

Day 5: Les at Marble Bar Pool

Day 5: Michael filming near Comet Gold Mine

Day 6: My first trip up to the Pilbara is beginning to wind down and this is the last day of shooting.  I will be spending much of the day in the Courthouse Gallery, surrounded by the brilliant P.H.otography exhibit (‘I Took The Time To Look’ Perspectives of the Pilbara), which had a grand opening last night.  Hopefully we will see a great showing for the ‘Meet the Photographers’ event tonight as well.

The past week has been an amazing experience.  Although we travelled non-stop, it only showed me how much more is out there.  It has been very humbling traveling with this group of photographers.  I am trying to decide if it is a comfort or discouragement that they even at times have difficulty capturing what lay before us.  I am traveling light as usual, using the Olympus E-P1 with the collapsible M. Zuiko 14-42mm lens.  Further observations on each of the photographers will be posted soon.

Day 6: Tony giving advice after the 'Meet the Photographers' event

Day 7: Final thoughts at the airport

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