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February 28, 2007

Rotting flesh delights me

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Now I know why these peaches were going for $5/tray.

I couldn't eat one of them. At least I got another delicious decaying fruit photo out of it.

[current mood] Hot Chip & Pelting Rain on Tin Roof Outside Office Window

Posted by natalija at 10:15 AM | Comments (1)

February 27, 2007

It's my day don't ya know it

I get this feeling when my birthday comes up that leaves me standing fairly still. I suppose it is 'freeze' mode. I don't want to make a fuss over myself, I don't want to be in the spotlight... but then I always get upset when its forgotten or the day feels empty. I can't help attaching some rather large weight to the day.. no matter how much I logically defy it!
So I stand there not quite knowing what to do. Frozen.
My day, just a day, it's me, it represents my life, it's nothing, it's something. Is it?

Yesterday I turned 29. Sounds kind of old but I've always ignored my age, believing that this maintains my youthful looks. Never worried about getting older... but slowly I'm catching that disease which causes me to look in the mirror more often and grimace! (I suppose that disease is called looming death). It's only in the past year that I've been noticing wrinkles between my eyebrows that cause me to practice happy yet blank expressions to counter effect. And I have to do so much more exercise and eat so much better to keep my same self. More effort, less return it seems.
The thighs keep expanding. But this is becoming a woman.

The birthday in dot points:
Lowlights
- Seeing two ex boyfriends on purpose (silly).
- Lying in grass in the middle of day to embrace self imposed freedom yet coming up in itchy bumpy rash from head to toe from bugs/fertiliser or something evil.
- Having multiple clients call mobile reminding me of deadlines I made for them and having to sit in front of computer to meet my promises.

Highlights
- Yellow sky, lighting and thunder for breakfast.
- Walking puppies with Anita through rain.
- Finding one of the earrings I was given as a gift using mobile phone light in middle of night on pavement.
- Patting Oscar whilst watching the Oscars. And picturing his future bow tie.

I still don't understand birthdays.

[current mood] Yo la Tengo tonight & Gin and Tonic

Posted by natalija at 7:54 PM | Comments (8)

February 23, 2007

Perth Signwriting Art

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I went on an 'old signage' hunt on the weekend.
I want to capture this disappearing artform., back when signwriter meant typographic artist, not vinyl cutout machine operator.
After seeing the Northbridge plaza reinvent itself as a shitty piece of grass, the one exciting feature was how the knocked down wall re-exposed a forgotten sign (circa 1970). It was a real ozzy beauty. I went back to photograph it on the weekend to find it painted over in mustard yellow. I almost wept.
This typifies the city council and its attitude towards creativity, history and what makes a city an exciting place to be in.

Perhaps this is a mission of archiving before all is lost. So at least it can exist in a book!

I would like to venture out into the industrial areas and down to now closed corner stores...
If you know of any cool old signage, newly exposed walls or facades not yet gentrified, let me know where!

I'm turning the photos into high-contrast images to make them more graphic.
I thought eventually they could be turned into fonts or blended into one to create an 'old perth signage' font. Or just used for inspiration in layouts.

[current mood] Flashbacks & Becks (Verandah)

Posted by natalija at 4:36 PM | Comments (1)

February 20, 2007

Visual distractions

Do you know
when you can't stop looking
at a shape dancing on somebody's neck?
the way their movements effect the length of the patterns and curve around their skin?
How their fine blonde hair glistens in the spotlight.
You become so mesmerised that you are no longer present in conversation... and that is when you can turn this apparent rudeness into a legitimate art form by taking your camera off the table and satisfy your urges.

Does this happen to you? Because I'm doing it constantly.

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[current mood] Asahi & Classic FM radio voices

Posted by natalija at 10:30 PM | Comments (2)

Blink on Artshub

Here is the article I wrote for Artshub on The BLINK Project.

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A crowd of thousands are sitting and staring expectantly at a super sized screen at Perth's Supreme Court Gardens. Images of country WA flick along with a 200 person choir and a spectacular percussion ensemble...

It's the opening of the Perth International Arts Festival. Those are my photos and the photos taken by the people of Meekatharra and three other remote communities! That is the end point of my journey being shown up there, and this is how it started...

September 1, 2006...
I peered through my little grey window frame at the plains of ochre land spotted with shrubs and long violet smudged shadows. It was my first impression of Meekatharra, the town that I would integrate myself into over the next 30 days. After touch down I was given keys to a ute and a house, and left to discover a town of 800 people and start introducing myself.

I was one of four lucky photographers thrown into a regional Western Australian community last year to teach, inspire and create hundreds of images. I chose Meekatharra as it was the most remote town. I was right in thinking that the contrast would challenge me and provoke the most inspiration.

It's funny how the project answered all the things I was looking to do next whilst utilising all the things I'd learnt to date. I had to be a photographer, facilitator, creative marketer and social liaison officer (beer drinker). I'd had some similar experience working in Papua New Guinea and Perth multicultural groups using photography as a medium, so I felt equipped with some successful methods to get people snapping and learning at the same time.

With a couple of preliminary meetings with The Festival of Perth and Country Arts, we were geared up with eight digital cameras and a brief of some length, with various goals including...

  • Encourage the theme of 'the human family' whilst challenging the notion of what family could be.
  • Engage with all members of the community - the pilots, the teachers, the indigenous families, the miners, the farmers and the children.
  • Improve the visual literacy of the community. (ahh, big one!)
  • Ensure the images are of a quality that they will look impressive when displayed behind a choir at the Perth Festival opening.
  • Create a slideshow out of the images to be shown to the community at the end of the residency.
  • Take my own photographs too.

    I theorised how it would work, coming up with workshop plans and catchy opening sentences. I thought about simple exercises that would help people create better images whilst capturing the imaginations of children and adults alike. It all looked fabulous on paper and one month sounded like a rather long time. Show me those tick boxes!

    My first approach was to pull out a workshop diary and begin booking in dates with all the organisations - the local school, School of The Air, shire workers, hospital staff. Within this arena I quickly established many connections. Most of these people were quite interested in participating, each taking their own slant on the project. I also picked up on how I needed to cull my mile-long description and instead tailor my pitch to the individual. What subject inspired one person (My little joey) would contrast with another's (The hilarious old lady at the hospital). I felt like a travelling salesman, working it and getting commitment from man, woman and child!

    However, what commonly emerged was their desire to learn to use all the buttons on their digital cameras. My heart sunk a little at this, as I didn't see 'technical assistant' in the list of my objectives - I had so much more to offer! In the end I chose to see this as their initial attraction and understanding of what they could get out of it and perhaps these deeper aims of mine would be discovered through the photo-taking and not so much the verbalisation. After all, I did have my workshop book filling up with names. Tick!

    I chose to start with a workshop on photography principles, which secretly I called 'life appreciation'. I focused on just three basic elements in aesthetics - colour, texture and pattern. Deceptively simple concepts with lots of room for analysis. People could understand these principles on multiple levels and instantly feel more aware of why a photograph was better or more interesting. These principles apply to all forms of art and nature and thus provide a deeper appreciation of our environment.

    I then took the small groups on a walk of their town, either the main street they detested or the back streets in which they hadn't ventured, and asked them to photograph these three principles. When I saw the genuineness of their searching I began to experience the first reward of the project - people engaged!

    This is when the fixation on camera buttons fell away and the people began to notice the beauty around them. In a street which they usually saw as dusty and dead, they found barbs lined in patterns around rusty hues, bougainvillea bracketed by strong white lines and coiled orange pipes offset with a hint of blue tape.

    The photographs were stunning and people exclaimed how much they learnt in just this one workshop. It set off sparks and got people shooting! Tick! Or should that be Click?

    I continued to run workshops on aspects that would help achieve technically better photographs. I got people shooting themes around family and their Meekatharra life. I ran a blog website simultaneously for people to get the instant high of seeing their work online and to watch the progress of the project. I added tips and info which benefited families living on stations that couldn't come into town.

    egg_and_girl.jpgThis website was really successful and loved by those back in Perth. I was getting the back pats already, but what bothered me was how the website and the workshops were not connecting with the majority of the Meekatharra population. The Aboriginal people had shown no interest in turning up for a workshop in a Telecentre they never used, nor exploring a theme decided for them. I had to consider why I was there for them.

    So I explored a different approach - wandering. I walked the streets, bumping into people, chatting about their lives and discovered why they would want to participate. These other people in town wanted to see themselves and their friends doing what they love to do. And most of all, motivated by the idea that these photos would end up on the big screen at the Outback Festival in two weeks.

    I took a simpler approach where I just said a lot less, and let the people talk to me through the images they created, and these, once shown, enabled more of a conversation (interjected with tips) to occur.

    As the project went on I took more risks and gave individuals cameras to take home. I wish I could have done this from the start as the photos were very special. I got to see footy celebrations, fishing in the creek and the things people treasured in their houses. I started to see the images that would really make up the Perth Festival show - the REAL photos.

    My camera got a major workout too as I was taken from christening to roast at the pub to the lookout. By the last week I felt so integrated and embraced by the community that I was delighting in the soap opera-like gossip over tea and cake and even got a date to the Meeka Ball (Thank goodness he was a good looking cop and quickly filled the gap left by the flippant pilot. However I did have to turn down the miner.)

    At the end of the project, on the Friday night, an arc of families on rugs surrounded the screen and watched the images accompanied by hip hop music for 25 minutes straight. I stood amongst them listening to their comments and soaking up their laughter at the characters, their friends and their town. One lady told me that it truly captured the whole town and the different families and communities within it. I was thrilled that I had spread the vision so wide.

    I loved one participant, Dan's, quote about the project. He simply said "You changed my life". That is why I call that first workshop 'life appreciation' - you think you're going to learn what the buttons do and you end up finding out why you want to learn what the buttons do.

    To see the archive of the project online visit www.meeka.com.au or visit the Perth International Arts Festival where the four slideshows will be displayed in the Perth Concert Hall.

    [current mood] Hammocks & Tweety Birds

    Posted by natalija at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

    February 16, 2007

    WAM cover shot

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    I was really looking forward to Thursday this week when Drum Media would be published with my photograph for the WAMI's (Western Australian Music Industry awards) on the cover. It was odd actually that I wanted the days to speed up to get me to Thursday. I even had dreams about it... It is a terrible thing to 'will away time'. I intend to stop it at once!

    Here it is, 5 WA band representatives: Eskimo Joe, Mink Mussel Creek, Schvendes and The Panda Band.
    It was a super fun shoot:
    The sky was glary white and the light was disappearing fast, we had a gale to contend with and a bunch of cakes to eat!
    The lady who owns this spectacular house was very tentative at first about a 'band shoot' in her front yard, but once her daughter confirmed the identity of Eskimo Joe, the whole street began to get excited.
    They all set themselves up next door, facing the yard with 'tv' dinners and watched the entertainment. (nothing quite like this has happened on Wood St before)...

    This is one of the shots I loved that didn't make it to published state.

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    [current mood] Chinese Green Tea & Jurassic 5

    Posted by natalija at 3:55 PM | Comments (3)

    February 12, 2007

    Remember

    Take time each day to remember you are a skeleton.

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    [current mood] My last coffee & My next coffee

    Posted by natalija at 9:40 AM | Comments (0)

    February 11, 2007

    Blink goes Massive

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    This was the view at Supreme Court Gardens on Friday night.
    After a friend cancelled on me, I rushed down alone, to join a crowd of thousands and ended up standing on the edge to watch my experience be shown. A huge choir sang a Ngoongar Welcome To Country song and Tetrafide Percussion swung their fuzzy headed sticks whilst the Blink images flicked in rhythm.
    I felt sad that I had no one to squeeze me on the arm.

    [current mood] Same as before & Becks

    Posted by natalija at 12:14 AM | Comments (2)

    February 10, 2007

    Why you love gloss

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    Some designers only dream about using uv gloss spot varnish....
    FORM see it as a design priority!
    They allowed me to drip it over the invitation design for the Port Hedland's new precinct launch.
    The recipients have described them as "beautiful".

    The gloss causes you to take the brochure in your hands, run your fingers across its surface, over the gloss pieces woven through flat matt. You gently angle it towards the light. The invite gets more eye-time than just flat colour.

    I've been pondering why shine & reflection are such beautiful things to the human eye.
    Is it their proximity to water? - An element of life (and 90% of our body).
    Because it reflects a source of light, the sun? - Our god.

    Does it explain why we like eyes - glossy and watery, reflecting.
    Why we like precious metals and stones... they glitter & sparkle.

    [current mood] Gin and Tonic & Angus and Julia Stone

    Posted by natalija at 5:08 PM | Comments (0)

    February 7, 2007

    Blink - don't miss it

    Fabbo! BLINK is getting publicity.
    Here is an article from today's West Australian Newspaper's art section. Written by Nyanda Smith.
    Click for a zoom up you can read.

    We are into phase two of the BLINK photography project. First was my residency in remote town, Meekatharra which concluded with a big screen slideshow of images at the Outback Festival. Now it's Perth's turn to experience slices of life from a far away place.
    The images will be on display throughout the Perth Festival for the next month or so and featured on opening night! Wacky splendidoo.

    I considered these strikingly different audiences whilst I was up there photographing... there I am framing up a captivating picture of a little girl in a nappy holding her baby brother on a cushion in a yard full of rubbish, cherishing the contrast and insight, and a whole load of intellectual aesthetic wank. Then when I turned the camera back to their eyes, I saw a different experience being had. "Hey, look at me and my brother!"
    This difference didn't just apply to young people, but to adults too.
    The project was all about balancing these two perceptions of photography - one as art form or documentary and the other as a enjoyable process, perhaps art without the analysis?!
    I tried my best to create meaning for both. There I am, some city slicker girl wandering in and asking an entire town to take photos with the theme of the human family... "uhh, why would I do that for you?"
    Instead I left that objective to the side and spent time with people to find their individual desires to be in images, to create images, to share images.... and through passionate engagement ultimately creating stunning photographs for their own real enjoyment and what appears to be Perth's appreciation too!

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    One of my favourites. Shot by a boy from Meekatharra District Highschool.

    [current mood] Classic FM & Dairy Products

    Posted by natalija at 10:53 PM | Comments (3)

    February 4, 2007

    And Kingston...

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    I didn't mention that there is not only Oscar but Kingston too!
    My housemate couldn't resist...

    Here are some Sunday pics of Oscar. I will restrict myself to weekends only.
    Expect tales of weewee, poop, no chewing/eating plants/biting, fetch!, good doggie and c'mon boys! Or perhaps just photographic essays so that it falls within my blog description.

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    [current mood] Panforte and Cheddar & The Knife

    Posted by natalija at 5:53 PM | Comments (1)