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Saturday 11 May 2019

photo essay

Australia now

Anxieties over drought, climate change and natural disaster overshadow entries to an annual photography competition illustrating how contemporary Australians live

Adam Ferguson: Drought 2

Jack Slack-Smith, 65, sits in his living room while listening to the weather report on television, at his home on Epping Farm, near Pilliga in New South Wales, November 2018. Jack’s property has been in drought since 2012, forcing him and his wife Jan to sell part of their property to service their bank loan. They have reduced their sheep stock from 7,000 to approximately 3600, and their beef cattle from 260 breeders to 22. Australia is experiencing its most severe drought in decades.

 

Adam Ferguson: Filipino Immigrants, Pyramid Hill 

Brothers Dwight, right, and Gad Dabu, outside their home near Pyramid Hill, Victoria. They are Filipino immigrants whose father Genaro works at a local piggery. Unable to find Australians to work in their piggeries, several Pyramid Hill businesses sought labour from the Philippines, making a regional Australian town a model of integration and revival.

 

Aletheia Casey: Ella 

My niece Ella at my parents’ house, Callala Bay, NSW. This image is an exploration of childhood, and the uncertainty of growing up. It is part of a wider series that explores the complexity and duality of family, home and belonging, played out amongst the light and shadows which coexist within life.

 

Anna Maria Antoinette D’Addario: Lamin Tucker’s children Francis and Rachael draw in their house after school 

Lamin Tucker is a former sprinter and was captain of the 2006 Sierra Leone athletics team. He is now an Australian citizen and lives in Sydney with his family. This image was taken whilst working on a story for The New York Times in Sydney last year, focused on the athletes who fled from the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast to seek asylum in Australia.

 

Brian Cassey: Rain Over Black Mountain

Aboriginals call it “Kalkajaka” or the “Mountain of Death”. It stands south of Cooktown in northern Australia. The Aboriginal dreamtime belief is that the mountain is the result of the explosion when a medicine man who had a taste for human flesh was struck by lightning, leaving a massive pile of charred black rock. Aboriginals don’t go there amid fears that those who do will not return. I made the image during a short light aircraft flight from Cairns to Cooktown.

 

Cassie Sullivan: Mum 02 

Doing the housework in a shared house in the suburbs of Tasmania.

 

Emma Phillips: Diane Washing Dishes at her Father’s House 

I met Diane a few years ago when she was breeding rats in Rosebud, on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Now she has a one-year-old baby called Willow. This picture was made at her father’s house in Leongatha, where she was living at the time.

 

Gary Ramage: Dad’s Alzheimer’s 

From shallow mass graves in Kosovo to the bloody battlefields in Helmand province, I have covered some pretty tough photographic assignments. But this has been, by far, the hardest of all: documenting the day my father moved into a full-time care facility for people with stage four dementia/Alzheimer’s. Battling with my inner ethical issues over whether or not to photograph the event was a struggle, but my father raised me always to tell the truth and in the end that’s what won me over. How could I continue to crash into people’s lives with my camera when they are at their most vulnerable and yet not have the courage to do it with my own family? The answer was staring me in the face.

 

Isabella Kerstens: Tanline 

Ella with a bad sunburn, on my bed, midsummer.

 

James Brickwood: Friends 

Three friends share a moment in the early hours, after the Curly Boardriders presentation, New South Wales.

 

Jason Thomas: After the Show

Ash is a performer by night and makeup artist by day. He loves the quiet space after a show, at home, in his pool while smoking a cig. This image is part of a series I captured with Ash for a photographic essay titled The Otherside Of Drag.

 

Jason Thomas: Who Talks For My Country Now? 

A mother and child living in one of the most remote communities on earth, Kiwirrkurra, on the edge of Lake Mackay in Western Australia. She worries for her children and future generations. I captured this image in the afternoon as the sun’s burn eased and shadows stretched out across the salt lake. Afterwards, as the mother walked away, she asked rhetorically: “Who talks for my country now?”

 

Liz Ham: Self Portrait with First Born (Pre Partum Post) 

On the eve of having surgery to remove my womb, my first-born child and I made this self portrait together. It is a conclusive image in a very private and intimate body of work made over the last decade. In the series Pre Partum Post, I explored my feelings around childbearing, mental health and the self.

 

Mark Raffety: Bronson 

A young aboriginal artist and man of action, Bronson was born into the Biripi mob, three hours out of Taree, northern New South Wales. He and his nine brothers and sisters were separated and placed in foster care. Bronson landed east on Mitchell’s Island. Running wild on the beach, he discovered parkour by flipping off the sand dunes, flying off cliffs, then walls and buildings. At 16 he joined Naisda Aboriginal and Torres Islander Dance College for three years. Then he tumbled into Melbourne to study at the National Institute of Circus Arts. Tattooed on his chest is the Tree of Life. The birds flying from the tree are his family who, like a flock of birds, flew their separate ways into foster care. Bronson will tattoo the birds flying back to the tree when the family get back together again. The crow on his ribcage is Bronson’s personal totem and represents his father.

 

Matthew Abbott: Breaky Before Dawn 

Well before sunrise, workers at Bulka Station in Western Australia eat breakfast and gather for a morning meeting. The team of workers sleep, work, eat and party together, leading to close relationships and a feeling of comradeship. The work is intense and the group is isolated from the outside world, but having a 50/50 split of Jillaroos and Jackaroos (female and male workers) helps create a more harmonious working environment.

 

Matthew Abbott: Dust and Sweat 

Recently washed clothes hung out to dry on a hoist at Margaret River Station, Western Australia. The station hands work with the light, waking up at 4.30am until the sun sets at around 5pm. It’s a hard life, and recently more women have chosen to move to the bush, taking on roles traditionally dominated by men.

 

Max Howe: Directions

Since the Second World War America has had a global influence on economies and cultures. The effect of multiculturalism on Australia has been substantial and successful, where long-held cultural identities have been maintained, while allowing various other arts from different groups to be respected. The landscape of a newly growing Australia is always at a point of flux. This photo hopefully shows one of those times when a decision can be made.

 

Michele Aboud: Daniel 

This portrait is set in ambiguous surroundings intentionally; the monochromatic palette enhances the feel of another time. There is no true indication of when it was shot. Even the leather strap on Daniel’s watch is vintage but this image truly speaks of now.

 

Nathan Stolz: Anna and Nungarrayi 

This image depicts an Indigenous artist and arts centre worker in the collectively owned four-wheel drive the women use to go hunting in the desert, setting off barefoot, crowbars in hand, in search of goannas (Monitor lizards). It’s drawn from a larger series, “Aporia”, spanning the iconic spaces of Australian life. It reflects on a febrile mix of histories and ideologies as it navigates the continent and ideas of Australianness today.

 

Nicholas Moir: Death on the Darling

 A dying kangaroo struggles to escape the tarlike mud which lies under the surface of Lake Cawndilla. Many animals were caught in the quagmire which is covered in a dry crust. The animals were drawn to the last drops of water in the lake, one of the Lake Menindee system on the Darling river in western New South Wales. Drought and water management have left just a few stretches of water, filled with blue-green algae.

 

Sam Ferris: King Street 

A candid street image of a woman being struck by a gust of wind at the corner of King and George streets, Sydney. During the month of November there is a 30-minute window in the evening where the light is both direct and reflected, creating a cinematic effect on the street. I have been photographing at this location for roughly five years.

 

Sam Harris: Uma and Yali 

My daughters Uma and Yali share a moment watching a bonfire.

 

Sam Harris: Yali, Combing Accident 

A portrait of my daughter Yali with a comb stuck in her hair.

 

Sarah Rhodes: Identical Twins on the Spectrum 

Liam and Rohan, aged 18, are mirror identical twins with severe autism. One is left-handed, the other right-handed. They are both socially isolated but because they are twins they have each other. One is higher functioning than the other, offering support.

 

Tajette O’Halloran: Untitled In Australia 

This is a collection of images inspired by my adolescence growing up in a small country town on Australia’s north coast. The images explore the psyche of suburban and small-town Australia, focusing on subjects and environments where there is a feeling of idleness, apathy and stillness. Complex relationships play out in unceremonious landscapes, revealing a largely undocumented element of Australian culture.

Tamara Dean: Endangered (Winner)

The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest living marine structure, is finding little reprieve from more intense and frequent marine heatwaves brought on by climate change that cause devastating bleaching. Biologists predict that if we continue carrying on the way we are then by the end of this century 50 per cent of species living today will face extinction. And humans are not immune. To see ourselves as different and separate from the ecology and ecosystem of our planet is leaving humanity unprepared. We are mammals in a sensitive ecosystem, vulnerable to the same forces of climate change as every other living creature.

 

Tamara Dean: Tree Notches 

Living in regional New South Wales, summer gets hot. A rope swing at a secluded waterhole offers a reprieve from the heat and hours of entertainment.

 

Trent Mitchell: Jack Macrae, Inner Atlas, 2018 

The most primitive form of wave riding known to man, bodysurfing is an individual oceangoing sport. Athletes connect with the energy of the sea and perform shoreward rides both above and below the waves, often mimicking dolphins at play. Often referred to as a lost art, the wave riding subculture of bodysurfing is realising a global resurgence. Dancing the line between fear and joy while chasing the perfect wave, riders surrender themselves to the power of nature during each submersion. I seek to capture the energy of their pioneering spirit from an unseen perspective.

 

Tristan Still: Raynen 

“Surreptitiously, I walk hallways to each room, I close doors achingly, in a backwards manner becoming apparition.” Raynen Raynen is a gentle person, their manner reserved. They speak with consideration, pausing before each sentence. This image is from my second shoot with Raynen, on the roof of the co-op where they reside.

 


Australia’s devastating drought and the fragility of its ecosystems were major themes in this year’s Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize, announced this week.

The A$50,000 prize went to Tamara Dean, for her underwater photograph Endangered (see above). Dean’s work explores the relationship between humans and the natural world. The winning image is one of a series of her photographs about the Great Barrier Reef.

Cheryl Newman, one of the judges, said: “This symbolic image addresses the fragility of our planet and vulnerability of its inhabitants. Endangered is an important picture; its message is challenging, its presentation poetic.”

The 30 finalists were selected from over 3,000 entries. Photographers were invited to tell a story of how they experience living in their country: places, people and lifestyle that make the country quintessentially Australian.

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