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Scott Davis/Travis De Jonk/Eureka O'Hanlon/Bentron Parry/Rod Spark/Ross Spirou

RodSpark 20190107--s.jpg



An essay by garrie maguire

This exhibition brings together six practitioners whose involvement in the gay community stretch to last century and the days of analogue. They continue to make work and investigate cis male to male desire. This essay is about raising the issue of representation that is hidden from view. Australian photography has a problem that we don’t like to acknowledge. The gatekeepers, gallery directors, festival organisers and curators, the people that choose which photographs and which photographers get exposure, are overwhelmingly of European descent, including the writer of this text. We are proud of the gender bias towards the feminine in positions of power but we hide our cultural bias and pretend it does not exist. This cultural bias is the framework by which the art of photography is viewed in this country. One of the ways our biases manifest themselves is in who we choose and what we encourage and even allow photomedia practitioners to show. We like the artists we show to be from other cultures and make commentary through their experiential narratives. The framework of post colonialism is encouraged but as white western scholarship understands it. The curious thing is that it now confirms and enforces the power structures that are the problem, Edward Saad pointed out, in Orientalism, that is once an artist engages in presenting a critique of how the power structures play out, they have positioned themselves as ‘other’ and positioned the (white) gatekeepers as having power over them. The gatekeepers talk about giving the artist agency. They also discourage artists from the majority culture from engaging in this debate. This is done via an insistence that the only person allowed to tell a story is someone within that ethnicity and cultural background which is being represented. There is a comfort in that, yet a problem. If the issues don’t go mainstream, can they be altered in a democracy? Further the gatekeepers get to choose which stories get told and by whom. This unfolds a paradox at the heart of photo-media art in this country, gatekeepers practice (choosing whom to represent and how) is something they insist artists cannot do. This exhibition breaks with this orthodoxy. I the gatekeeper/curator/organiser of Men/Still/Shooting have selected photographers who have a lived experience back to the HIV crisis and our coming out of it. These men have names that are European. William Yang is the most important photographer of this period and genre. He is a national treasure and is represented in the director’s room. Each artist photographs his friends, acquaintances and other interesting men. I have given the artists the freedom to choose the prints displayed here and as curator, I decide how the artist’s work relates to each other on the wall. This exhibition allows the photographers to collaborate with whomever they wish. These collaborations open a dialogue between the artist, sitter and community values and understanding. Desire plays a role in each collaboration. In a discussion with Kim Võ, a Masters of Philosophy candidate and senior tutor at Melbourne University, we explored the results of affirmative action, post-colonial theory and how to change power structures. The only example of significant change we could point to was gay men. Feminism has made major gains for women but is still pushing back against patriarchy. Racism is still rampant in society. Gay men are assuming equality and insisting on equality. This was probably achieved, in large part, by having a majority of white males in the ranks. This group of artists and the curator were involved in the political push for equality. The strategy was insist that we are equal, to reject victim hood and deny othering. This exhibition builds on Looking for Adam, the gallery’s first Midsumma exhibition. The earlier exhibition gave space to young diverse voices. This exhibition looks at the current work of the photographers who started thinking about and/or making images at the end of last century and where their journey is up to. Each negotiates the trope, of the naked male, differently. Three of the artists cover the body. Rod Spark’s work hides the body under paint yet leaves nothing to the viewer’s imagination. The paint clothes the nakedness referencing Marvel, Pollock and even Warhol’s BMW. His work builds from his studies, is joyous as well as technically beautiful. Brenton Parry comes from a graphic design background and found the joy of image-making. He has played with the idea of clothed yet nude in many of his projects. In this project he uses powder, referencing the pigments that have been used for centuries to make paint and it is also used in the Indian Holi Festival. Travis De Jonk; Travis first came to note as apart of Bad Behavior - a queer photographic studio and publisher, producing well thought through and technically stunning images, attributes that are still the hallmark of his work. In this project he presents the naked form of himself and close friends under bubblewrap. In the project the nakedness is an expression of vulnerability. Two artists use techniques to progress the trope. Eureka O’Hanlon’s work is from the perspective of an age reached when shame and shyness no longer hold sway, that the beauty of youth should be captured as he (and we) get ever older. His use of overlay textures and replaced backgrounds remind us of the distance we have travelled and that the subjects of his photographs will travel. I became aware of Scott Davis’ work in the early days of the Internet. The mainstream and the gay community did not honour the men we desired so he went about changing that. The thin scholar type is the subject. He makes his prints with Palladium, a precious metal that makes gold look cheap. In doing so he is giving these men and their masculinity weight and importance that challenges the viewer to reconsider who and what attributes are desirable and why. One photographer uses abstraction. Ross Spirou’s work simplifies the male body. His images on location and in the studio are thoughtfully considered. He uses the male physique as form, rather than personality. Each sitter could be many men that we know or interact with each day. His interest is in form and line. In that is a beauty that is sublime. The gallery has chosen each artist, based on their history and passion for visual media and the male nude. Each artist has chosen which of their work you will see. The gallery has arranged the work on the wall.

The Artists
Ross Spirou

My interest in photography dates back forty two years ago when at the age of eighteen, I bought my first camera and studied photography for six months but as unemployed eighteen year old, College was too much for me to handle and I left but photography was always with me and at the age of forty, I went back to school and studied photo imaging at Polytechnic TAFE, Fairfield Campus. Around 2010, I began photographing men and in 2015, I contributed three prints to the annual Men On Men exhibition and one of my photos won first prize. In 2016, I had my first exhibition at the Laird Hotel titled “exposed” and in 2017, the first of the FOURMS exhibitions took place and as part of the Ballarat Biennale. In 2019, the second FOURMS exhibition took place. FOURMS exhibitions were in collaboration with three other art nude photographers and our aim was to showcase the beauty of the human form and to get art nude photography out there and in the public eye. In 2021, I entered four prints to the Kings exhibition and as part of past winners of the Men On Men exhibition and in 2020, I contributed prints to the PINK exhibition held by the Tacit gallery. My aim as a photographer and artist has always been to photograph and showcase men, and male beauty, sexuality, sensuality and to showcase men as beautiful, artistic and sexy beings.

Scott Davis

Scott Davis began his relationship with photography in 1993. Prior to that, like most of us, he used a camera as just a recording tool for vacation snapshots. He enjoyed painting and drawing in high school, so during a period of unemployment after graduating from university, he thought he would resume art-making as a pastime. Originally thinking to learn just enough about photography to make images as subject matter for painting and drawing, he fell in love with the medium the first time he saw a print appearing as if by magic in the developer tray. That spark of wonder first experienced continues to guide his photography today. Throughout his photographic career he has used nude men as subjects in his imagery, playing with and against roles and stereotypes of traditional notions of masculinity and sexual attractiveness, casting non-caucasian men as heroes in traditional Western mythology (illustrating Tarot cards, Episodes in the Life of Hercules). His philosophy is firmly grounded in physical photography – the photograph isn’t finished until it is printed – but embraces the potential of 21st century tools to realize his artistic vision and to communicate that vision with a wider audience. Today he specializes in printing in platinum/palladium, a process invented in the 1880s. He teaches antique processes at Glen Echo Photoworks in Glen Echo, Maryland. He has exhibited his work around the DC area, across the US, and internationally. His commercial work has been published in magazines such as Metropolitan Home, Metalsmith and Art In America. He has also curated exhibitions of modern artists using historic photographic process work at Photoworks and Art Reactor galleries in DC. As well as being a photography Instructor at Glen Echo Photoworks, a community photography education center at Glen Echo Park, an arts park in the suburbs of Washington DC, a collaboration between the US Park Service and Montgomery County Parks and Recreation. He teaches historic photographic processes, studio lighting, large format photography and silver gelatin printing. Exhibits as photographer 2022 Timeless: Historic Processes in a Digital Age Glen Echo Photoworks 2022 Faculty ExhibitGlen Echo Photoworks 2022 Iason DemosKentlands Photography Cafe 2019Indelible: That Which Cannot Be ErasedGallery O on H, Washington DC 2017 AltPhoto Revolution Glen Echo Photoworks, New Orleans Photo Alliance, Dylan Ellis Gallery. 2016 Size MattersLow Gallery, San Diego California 2014Maryland Silver Visions River Road Unitarian Church, Bethesda 2013Paradigmatic Nudes Eastern Sierra Center for Photography 2013 Motel Eastern Sierra Center for Photography 2013 The Colors of Night - soloMad Momo’s, Washington DC 2013 The Chemical View ArtDC Gallery, Hyattsville, MD 2013 Signatures Photoworks, Glen Echo, MD 2012 Alternative Visions Photoworks, Glen Echo, MD 2012, 2009, 2007, 2004, 2002 Artomatic Crystal City, VA - group show 2007 Visual Edge 3 - Handcrafted ViewPoint Gallery, Sacramento, CA 1998 Men at Play - a Revue - soloPlayHouse Gallery, Baltimore, MD 1996SoWeBo FestivalBaltimore, MD 1995 The Meat Ball Baltimore, MD 1994 Around the World in a Day Baltimore, MD As curator 2016The Spirit - alternative process photographyPhotoworks, Glen Echo, MD 2010The Whole Plate ProjectArt Reactor, Hyattsville, MD Publications May 2019 - The Hand magazine July, 2017 Medium Festival of Photography, San Diego, California - my entry from the 2016 Size Matters show included in promotions for the 2017 Size Matters call for entries. June, 2017 Hallowed Ground: The Journal of the Civil War Trust - portrait of Ed Bearss, the chief historian emeritus of the United States Park Service to illustrate 30 Years of Battlefield Preservation, an article highlighting three major figures in the fight to save our Civil War heritage. January, 2017 - I Saw Through a Pinhole - a curated volume of photographs made with a pinhole, combined with essays from each represented photographer about how and why they use the pinhole camera as a medium. July, 2016 - - weekly inspiration image feature. September, 2014 - Art In America - full page advertisement for Art Silicon Valley/San Francisco art fair. June, 2013 - Metalsmith - two page layout of Enlightenment Room, an installation piece at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution as part of their “Craft Futures: 40 under 40” curated exhibition. May, 2006 - Metropolitan Home - three page layout featuring the Thai-inspired design of a private patio on Embassy Row in Washington DC

Eureka O'Hanlon

Eureka (Michael James O’Hanlon) is a Melbourne based artist and queer activist.  He studied at Footscray Community Arts Centre Melbourne from 2007-9 achieving a Certificate in Further Education Art Studies and also has an Arts Degree, a Social Work Degree and a Business Masters. He is a professional Member of the National Association for the Visual Arts (Australia) and teaches art from his studio at the Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne Australia. I use artmaking to come out as a gay man, a continuing process to counter the assumptions of everyday life. As a queer artist my mission is to find those things hidden in plain sight for example exploring the homoeroticism in much Catholic art. I also like to create new possibilities through my work imagining a future freer and more inclusive than the present. About Eureka (Michael James O’Hanlon) is a Melbourne based artist and queer activist. He studied at Footscray Community Arts Centre Melbourne from 2007-9 achieving a Certificate in Further Education Art Studies and also has an Arts Degree, a Social Work Degree and a Business Masters. He is a professional Member of the National Association for the Visual Arts (Australia) and teaches art from his studio at the Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne Australia. I also like to create new possibilities through my work imagining a future freer and more inclusive than the present. Career: Selected exhibitions and residencies 2022 Into the Wild Exhibition with David Helmers Sculptor Abbotsford Convent 2020 Under the Dome of Heaven Midsumma Exhibition Tacit Galleries 2019 Event Horizon Residency Crete, Greece 2019 Selected for curator review Ballarat Foto Biennale 2019 Journeys of the Heart Exhibition Castlemaine State Festival (Solo) 2018 ROI Acquisitive Art Prize Melbourne (Finalist) 2018 A.I R Gentum Hoja de Ruta Residency and Exhibition Seville Spain 2018 Australia Post Midsumma Prize No Vacancy Gallery Melbourne (Finalist) 2017 Scarlatta Midsumma Exhibition and Events Abbotsford Convent (Solo) 2016 Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Residency Venice 2016 Découpages d’hommes (Solo) Midsumma fortyfivedownstairs 2014 Agora Collective three months’ residency Berlin 2014 Model Behaviour Institute Cervantes Mitte Berlin Germany Agora Group Show Art Books Ecce Homo Corona a Queer Moderne Journey through Lockdown Books in This Economy Press Melbourne 2020 Available Hares and Hyenas at Pride Centre Featured artist Un//Titled-An Anthology Of Queer Contemporary Art //2016-2020 First Edition Ed Stiofan o’ Ceallaigh Balaclava Q, U.K.   Videography   Scarlatta Performance 2016

Travis De Jonk

Power in society continues to work the way it always has - funnelled towards those who already have it. The primary focus of the powerful is the accumulation of more power. Power is not acquired to be shared or fairly distributed. If it was so even slightly, then indigenous self determination or genuine gender equity would have progressed light years ahead of where they find themselves today. That is the truth of power. Travis de Jonk Handle With Care Easily damaged, vulnerable, marginalised, sensitive, delicate… The designation of something being ‘Fragile’ suggests that it has significance, requires care, attention, and protective intervention - but also positions it as disempowered. Recent mental health surveys have revealed that at least statistically, society is the most anxious and stressed it has ever been in human history. Processes appearing to protect what society has designated as vulnerable and fragile are applied with increasing frequency in our world. Over-sensitivity and over-protectiveness are have become motifs of contemporary society, as has the rise of cancel culture and over correction. And yet there has never been a better time in human history to be alive. Developments in health, communication, travel, technology, production, civil liberty, and human rights coupled with the least engagement of violent wars and conflict around the world makes this the most prosperous, safe and stable time humans have ever lived in. Particularly in developed nations, where people can have whatever they want delivered to their door in 24 hours and where we have connection to the world at our fingertips. Why then is the perception of living in this golden age for humanity experienced as crippling trauma? Handle With Care explores and questions what fragility means, how we recognise and classify social and cultural artefacts as fragile, what action or perceptions result from that classification and what it means for the artefact being regarded as fragile. 3 subjects are depicted nude wrapped entirely in bubble wrap - an unnatural, manufactured and ecologically toxic material designed to protect artefacts in transit from minor damage. We can see the subjects through the wrap, but their full detail is partially obscured. The bubble wrap forms a sealed membrane that separates the subject from the world. The subjects could not have wrapped themselves in such a way. This state has been imposed on them. Handle With Care explores the shifting subjective nature of fragility, our increasing over-sensitivity and over-protectiveness. The work asks us to critically question how we come to recognise, prioritise, value and respond to social and cultural artefacts (objects, resources, values, identities, social constructs and behaviours), why such actions might be undertaken and what power dynamics are fundamentally at play. Handle With Care asks the viewer to consider who calls the shots with regards to developments in society? What repercussions result from subjects being projected through the prism of fragility and the applied interventions that are imposed to address it? Are they empowering or disabling? A help or hinderance? Whose best interests does it serve? And do the interventions empower self determination or reinforce inequity, victimhood and the supremacy of dominant power structures? About Travis de Jonk is an award winning photographer, video artist, multimedia artist and broadcast journalist based in Sydney, Australia. De Jonk’s overarching arts practice explores how social and cultural symbols develop and change their meaning over time. His visually rich work explores challenging expressions of queer sex, sexuality, queer ritual and masculinity and how they manifest both within the LGBT community and in the wider mainstream context. De Jonk is passionate about documenting the LGBT community and his images from the past 20 years are amongst the collections of the Australian Gay & Lesbian Archives. Awards & Recognition 2003 & 2008 1st Prize Winner Laird Men On Men Art Competition 2009 Finalist Ballarat International Foto Biennale 2009 Commission - Sydney Mardi Gras - Sleazeball 2009 campaign 2010 Melbourne Leather Pride - Artistic Excellence Award 2014 & 2015 Commission to create event campaign for Inquisition XXI & XXII 2022 Runner Up - Pride Arts Award - TAP Gallery, Sydney

Brenton Parry

My photography of male nudes has subconsciously dealt with my own insecurities and how they influence the way I interact with the world and especially the gay world I am a part of. In my first exhibition in 2011, SHROUDED, I was exploring how we put up walls and wear protective masks to keep ourselves emotionally safe. For this series I want to explore the impressions we leave on the world as we move through it. Each piece will feature several images of the model or models signifying the impressions, visual and emotional we leave on people as we interact. At the same time the repetition of figures also references the different way we present ourselves in different settings or even to different people within the same setting. We do this to feel safe or to leave the best impression on someone. Sometimes that impression isn’t positive because the interaction didn’t bring out the best in you. As I read recently “They got the version of me they deserved.” I plan on photographing models in a variety of settings both in the studio, on locations and underwater using Photoshop to combine the images creatively and seamlessly. The ideal is to present a series of relatively large format prints in both landscape and portrait orientations to immerse the viewer into the world each model inhabits. This will give the viewer as much detail as possible to absorb the nuance and emotion from each piece. My pieces will be printed on 310gsm Ilford Smooth Cotton Rag which gives them a delicious luminosity without shine, letting the image speak for itself and the viewer be absorbed into the details. As this exhibition explores the themes of my place in the world and how I present myself, combined with the approaching 10th anniversary of my first gallery exhibition I set myself a deadline of October 2023 to complete the work on this series and if possible, open to the public, as it will be my 50th birthday, a daunting milestone but one to commemorate. Career I have been working full time as a graphic designer since 1994 in a wide variety of companies and roles from Junior Graphic Designer to my current role as Senior Designer/Design Lead. I have worked for small boutique agencies, in house for large corporations, busy production companies and larger advertising agencies. Photography My father instilled my love of photography as a teenager after gifting me a second hand Mamiya 35mm film, the same as his own so I could use his lenses. It was at the age of 30 that I photographed my first male nude after always being drawn to photographing people. In the 18 years since I have photographed over 100 models in a wide variety of settings and locations. Exhibitions February 2011 Shrouded Solo exhibition Pine Street Studios. February 2013 Freedon Solo exhibition Pine Street Studios. February 2015 Tribe online exhibition January 2014 Company Of Men Group exhibition Melbourne January 2015 Company Of Men Group exhibition Melbourne Career Highlights My People My Tribe Series In 2016 I was asked to donate my time to a photographic project in response to the PULSE nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. The project was called My People My Tribe and over five days I set the style and photographed the first 100 participants. All participants were members of the LGBTIQA+ community and were photographed nude. The project then became the face of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival and parade in early 2017.

Rod Spark

I have been an event organiser, data analyst, receptionist, hospitality worker, scientist, mine worker, massage therapist but my passion has always been photography. I now focus on creating works that infuse my spirit with joy (oh and finally having a garden to create life). Born Hobart in the late 1950’s, I grew up in an idyllic village on the Tamar River, then spent two years working down the mines on the harsh west coast of Tasmania. My adulting began when I left a conservative Tasmania of the 1970’s and commenced my education in Adelaide (along with meeting friends that accepted me for just me with no judgement). Travel overseas for four years showed me that we live on a big world with lots to explore. Sydney then became home for 30 years where a rich life ensued including meeting my lifelong partner. In 2020, right in the middle of the COVID outbreak, we moved to nipaluna lutrawita (Hobart Tasmania). Career Summary From 1995 to 2015 I worked for the NSW Public Service in various roles of administration and Information Technology. Much of this work was problem solving tasks, data analysis and contract management that often included a client facing approach. From 1998 to the present, I have managed my own photography business. This has varied from capturing multifaceted sporting events to weddings, to corporate events, to volunteer community events etc. More recently, since doing my Master of Art, I have focused on exploring more artistic pursuits. Landscapes, built environment, portraiture and works that explore the meshing of painting and photography using the male nude form as a canvas for abstract art. I have been recognized many times with awards for my work including a Category winner, Merit Awards and Honourable Mentions. Plus, I’ve had feature articles of my practice in magazines. Academic Qualifications Master of Art (Photomedia) UNSW College of Fine Art (2015) Grad. Cert. in Computing Science University of Technology Sydney (1997) Bachelor of Science University of Adelaide (1985) Awards Sunrise PhotoShoot Awards Nudes 2017 – Merit Award Leap of Faith PhotoShoot Awards Nudes 2017 – Merit Award Embyro series Bent Art Exhibition June 2018 – Best New Artist Award Embyro series Photoshoot Awards Nudes 2018 – Category Winner Morpheus 13th Annual B&W Spider Awards 2018 Honourable Mention in category Nude Embyro series Photoshoot Awards Nudes 2019 – Merit Award Embyro series Photoshoot Awards Nudes 2020 – Merit Award Floating 15th Annual B&W Spider Awards 2020 Honourable Mention in category Abstract Nate Photoshoot Awards Nudes 2021 Merit Award Almost There 16th Annual B&W Spider Awards 2021 Honourable Mention in category Nude Exhibitions PRIDE Art Exhibition June 2005 – T.A.P Gallery, Sydney Nudes on Tap May 2006 – T.A.P Gallery, Sydney Nudes on Tap May 2008 – T.A.P Gallery, Sydney Thresholds UNSW COFA, Masters Graduation Show – June 2015, COFA Sydney Embodied Diversity (Solo show) Aug 2015 – LOST Space Gallery, Sydney David Bowie Memorial Exhibition Feb 2016 – LOST Space Gallery, Sydney Silverback Wrestling Shoot Exhibition Nov 2017 – East Sydney Doctors Gallery, Sydney, NSW A Company of Men Jan 2018 – Tacit Gallery, Melbourne, VIC Tarkine in Motion (Bob Brown Foundation) – Feb 2018 – Long Gallery, Hobart, TAS BentArt Exhibition June 2018 – Wentworth Falls, NSW Study of a Portrait July 2018 – Contact Sheet, Artarmon, NSW Silverback Wrestling Shoot Exhibition Nov 2018 – TAP Gallery, Sydney, NSW EroticARTist Jan 2019 - Dresden Art Fair, Dresden, Germany Pink Bits Jan 2019 – Tacit Gallery, Melbourne, VIC Nudes on Tap May 2019 – T.A.P Gallery, Sydney, NSW EroticARTist Jun 2019 - Wave-Gothik-Treffen in Leipzig, Germany BentArt Exhibition June 2019 – Wentworth Falls, NSW Artfully Queer Sept 2021 – Hobart Tasmania ,b>Online shows and featured articles MALESuality Photographer of the month - Jan 2017 - TAQAT QAMA Mag – Raw Strength – Aug 2017 - Technology QAMA Mag – Industry – Nov 2017 - MALEsuality Jan 2019 - Featured Photographer - 9th Edition NOISY RAIN MAGAZINE Body paint - Featured Photographer – 49th (anniversary) edition WE ARE SOMETHING ELSE Magazine Embryo – Featured Photographer - Jan 2019

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