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Sheet Film 
An overview of work made in Victoria



Sheet Film 

An introduction by garrie maguire, curator

In an age of short attention spans and instant gratification, that has applied to all aspects of life, there is a quiet rebellion happening. We see imaging making devices get smaller, simpler, quicker to use and makes many acceptable images fast. Many many images. We are now overwhelmed with photographs. Our own and others. The amount of attention to detail is decreasing. The need to study and perfect a craft is disappearing. Here is a group of photographers who are rebelling against the instant ‘sugar hit’ of modern living. They have decided to use cameras who’s heritage goes back to the beginning of photography. These cameras take one sheet at a time. They take time to set up. The cost is high per photograph. Each image is considered. Each print is thought out. The reward is fine detail. A feel that is only possible via analogue. Whether the artist wants the final print to be ethereal or stark detail it is possible with the knowledge of light, optics, chemistry, training and practice. This show has practitioners who have decades experience and those that are just starting out. This is a survey to encourage you, the viewer, to see photography differently.

The Artists
Avner Ben-Arieh

I am a Scottish Jew, born and raised in Melbourne. After finishing school, I spent several years working around Australia and settled back in Melbourne. Heading back to UNI to study Surveying, my current day job. A few years ago, my daughter Eva found my old Nikon 35mm SLR. Which Eva claimed and required me to pick up another camera. Trying out different cameras and formats until settling on 4x5. The process of large format photography is quite precise and feels familiar to setting up survey gear I work with everyday. The work I create comes from exploring urban areas with my 4x5 camera to produce contact prints that explore shape, light and contrast in the built environment. Often looking for the smaller details and as well as broader views. The work exhibited are all Selenium toned RC contact prints.

Ellie Young

Ellie Young is the founder of Gold Street Studios. Since its establishment in 1999 gold street studios has become the centre for alternative photographic print processes in Australia and New Zealand. The studios provides a resource Centre for photographic image makers and attracts both local and international participants seeking to advance their knowledge and skills in the art, craft and science of traditional handmade and early photographic print processes. As the world speeds up and mass production controls our choices there is an increasing desire for hands on creativity and handmade objects, this includes the handmade photograph. In 2000 gold street studios offered some 4 or 5 workshops – in the year 2012 in excess of 40 different workshops are on offer with numerous one to one workshops.

Keira Hudson

Keira Hudson is a mixed media artist based in Naarm with a passion for combining analogue photography, textiles, and ceramics. Her handmade pieces are often laborious creations that are a result of hours of work. The themes in her practice range from the beautiful to the macabre as she navigates her misbehaving body and brain.

Andrew Green

The big change for my photography came in 2021 during the on and off COVID lockdowns. That year I made a effort to learn Photoshop, started developing my own film, discovered pinhole cameras and began printing in cyanotype. I was now able to combine my interest in digital and analogue photography to make handmade prints from home without a dedicated darkroom. My printing practice now includes salt paper, cyanotype and vandyke. In 2022 I was given an OBSCURASEARCH 4x5 pinhole camera and also learnt how to make silver gelatin prints. The shift to sheet film photography was a big step for me and is still somewhat of a struggle. I like photography for its creativity as much as the technical skill required to take good images and print them well. My approach to photography is that there should be no rules; Pictorialism/Straight Photography, analogue/digital, it shouldn’t matter. I like Coranderrk Creek because you feel like you are in the wild, even though it is not far from human habitation. The creek appears timeless and unchanging even though I know that humans have impacted it and continue to do so. Braeside Park in Melbourne’s southeast which contains red gum grassy woodlands, heathland, and wetlands. These are among my favorite photographic walks.

Mark Darragh

My photography developed along with my interest in exploring the natural world and studying ecology and bio-geography. That continues to inspire and inform my work. Many of my photographs are close-up, taken at 1/2 to life-size, in other  words, an area of about 8x10” to 4x5”. Unlike small formats, this is large enough to capture more than a single subject, such as a flower or leaf, but rather what I like to call a micro-habitat. Isolating these from the wider landscape allows me to focus on processes such as entropy, disturbance, and decay versus renewal, regeneration, and succession. The photographs displayed both highlight ecological processes and relationships. Snowfall across the Australian Alps plays a crucial role in the ecology and hydrology of alpine ecosystems. Since the 1950s, scientists have measured a decline in the depth and duration of snow cover. Areas of lower elevation, such as the Baw Baw Plateau area, are likely to be particularly affected. These changes will reduce the available habitat for many species of animals and alter the distribution and species composition of many alpine plant communities. One example of this is the endemic Baw Baw Frog, now listed as critically endangered. Its population is estimated to have decreased by 98% since 1985. The rapid decline of the Baw Baw Frog has been linked to climate change and the spread of an infectious fungus. Dry weather and a lack of water recharge from snow melt are thought to affect the frogs during critical stages of their life history.

Zo Damage

Widely known for her social documentation of Melbourne’s live music creative sectors, Zo’s work is in the permanent collections of State Library Victoria and Arts Centre Melbourne, with signature pieces in the Australian Music Vault and The Amplifier. In addition, the photographer explores abstract and profoundly emotive topics and themes through her extended practice in alternative and experimental analogue photographic processes. Captured with a Graflex Speed Graphic (c1940) large format press camera, “Billabong (Main Yarra Trail” 2022, “Tram stop” 2020 and “Fitzroy” 2020 are part of Damage’s ongoing series “Bike paths of Melbourne”, in which Damage documents her two-wheeled commutes and the restoration and regeneration of Melbourne’s inner-city waterways and parklands. Recent awards and achievements include the State Library Victoria “Tate Adams Memorial Residency at Baldessin Press and Studio” Fellowship 2022, RMIT School of Art “Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence” 2021, QVM Trader Awards 2018 “Support to the Community Award” and The Age Music Victoria Awards 2017 “Outstanding Achievement Award”.

Hody Hong

I bought a Graflex 4x5 camera on eBay during lockdown in the middle of 2021. I decided to start a photographic project focused on close-up shots of people’s faces. At the time I felt that people’s faces were the most memorable and yet due to the pandemic they were being seen a lot less frequently as masks covered most of the face. The project is currently ongoing and these two selections were made at the end of 2022. The mask mandate has since been lifted.

Mat Hughes

Mat Hughes, Melbourne based photographer & printmaker. My work is pictorial in a traditional sense. I work mostly in landscape and have little interest in today’s tendency to depict objects more or less literally. I instead seek to interpret the emotions, beauty, and impressions that a scene might arouse. To a large extent, the artist in photography is handicapped by the fact that the camera is essentially a very efficient copying machine. The artist therefore must learn to control the medium every step of the way with an instinctive sense of what is beautiful in line, form and tone and seek out the essence of simplicity and balance. The artistic process presented in these works cannot therefore simply be thought of as the automated actions of a camera. My workflow includes a digital component in the middle of a workflow which is bookended by traditional practice. In terms of technique, I consider my work to be contemporary although this gets easily lost in the static. These three prints have been selected to show where todays photographic printmaking is able to go. Photography that combines printmaking is a pretty exciting place to be at the moment.

Kevin Xue

This photograph was create in Melbourne this year, it is the very first 8x10 image I have shot since I came back from China. Shot on Ilford HP5 with a Rodenstock lens. The Royal Exhibition Building and the Carlton Gardens were recognised as a world Heritage site in 2004. I love the combination of a classic building and landscape. I found this spot while doing another project and decided to bring my large format for a shot. I have always like to using large format camera to shoot historical buildings and keep them on the negative for a long period of time. Camera: Gibellini AG810 Lens: Rodenstock APO 300 Scan: PhaseOne IQ3100T

Charles Li

The black and white reversal process is a time-honored traditional darkroom technique. The photosensitive emulsion and development principles of black and white negative film allow for the possibility of reversal processing. Since reversal films are challenging to enlarge and print, viewing them directly on a lightbox provides the most impactful effect, making larger formats particularly captivating. The showcased works represent only a small portion of the experimental results. Instead of directly adding potassium thiocyanate or sodium thiosulfate to the first developer, further thinning of the film was achieved after the second development using Kodak R-4a Farmers’ Reducer. This made the entire process more clear and controllable. However, additional experimental results indicate that Farmers’ Reducer is not a universal solution and may cause irreversible damage to heavily overexposed or underdeveloped films. Farmers’ Reducer, commonly used as a paper thinning agent, has not been widely attempted in black and white reversal processes. In a world where film research is dwindling and photography continues to evolve as an art form, there is value in revisiting the fascinating reactions between silver halides and chemical developers.

David Pattinson

I’m a self-taught photographer, and have been shooting film in various formats since the mid 1980’s. After being drawn to photography by a desire to shoot landscapes, I now predominantly shoot people - portraits and street photography and some fashion. In the mid 2010’s I found my personal work moving back to B&W film, after shooting predominantly digitally for a few years from 2008. I liked the immediacy of digital, but I found the post-production work on the computer a chore, and also started to find myself devaluing that work due to the lack of connection a lot of digitally post-processed images have from their initial photographic creation. I think the connection to a ‘performance art’ aspect of photography is important in its authenticity, and I feel that the ease and nature of the available digital post-processing is eroding that connection, and consequently eroding the authenticity of the work. I’ve always been interested in the way the tools you use affect the work that you produce because of the constraints they impose - and I think that’s what drew me back to using sheet film a few years ago - after not having used it since the 90’s. Although I tend to like to move around when shooting, sheet-film cameras (at least the ones I use) don’t really support that approach, and instead require a static, considered viewpoint. It’s interesting to make work inside that constraint, both for me - and for the subjects.

Shea Kirk
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Vantages is a stereoscopic portrait series shot using dual large-format cameras. Each portrait is exposed onto separate sheets of black-and-white film, simultaneously capturing two images of the sitter from different perspectives. The process is slow and methodical, enabling an intimate exchange that highlights the agency between photographer and subject. Conscious of their own vulnerabilities, they’re aware of what it means to represent themselves, and through the nature of this dual-imaging process, resist being reduced to a single vantage point. Shea’s work is currently included in 100 Faces at the Museum of Australian Photography and Melbourne Now at the NGV.

Kurt Baldonado

For me photography is about something new. A new location, a new favorite song, new friends, new equipment. I wanted to challenge myself to learn large format, to let go of the immediacy that digital photography allows. I shoot large format because the process is more intentional than other forms of photography. Learning to focus on every step of the image making process helps me to master my techniques. Within large format photography there are also alternative processes which i am keen to learn from others in the future.

garrie maguire

n 1989 maguire was selected for the Sydney Tech College photography course. This course only used 5x4 inch cameras for all internal school projects and examinations. This is where his love for technical cameras began. He bought his SINAR F2 in 1992 and has used it ever since. His projects Occupation (1997), toHave&toHold (2000), God+Warriors (2002) were all made on this format as was portions of Shadows of Angkor project (2001-5). Recently he has reengaged with this format. The selected image is from Street photography project.

Lachlan Fysh

Following a decade in the digital wilderness — mostly shooting landscapes in the actual wilderness — I rediscovered film photography after buying a 3D printer during lockdown and diving head first into camera making and design. This rabbit hole has opened my mind to the previously “too much / too hard” world of large format, which has fully enlivened my passion for photography — I even recently dragged my field camera and development kit to Korea, including riding a bike across the country. As the final stage of my analogue renaissance I’m setting up a home darkroom but delays in building my Frankenstein enlarger meant I had to pivot to prepare some works for this show — so I started playing around with cyanotypes and have enjoyed the spontaneity and uniqueness of the prints more than expected — definitely something I’ll keep doing even once I’m fully set up with gelatin.

Ali Choudhry

“My photographic work revolves around the exploration of power dynamics and the allocation of agency within spatial contexts. By questioning who possesses power and consent, or rather, who grants it, my images invite viewers to reflect upon these complex dynamics. Through the use of large format cameras, I embarked on this artistic journey before fully realizing the significance of power and agency within photography. Large format portraiture became the nexus where these ideas converged, emphasizing the crucial need for trust and mutual understanding between photographer and subject. Even the slightest movement, intentional or unintentional, can profoundly impact the final image. Informed by my current PhD research on visual surveillance, the exploration of power within photography permeates all aspects of my artistic practice, fostering critical engagement and prompting reflection on the intricacies of agency and control in our shared human experience. With a desire to initiate dialogue and challenge established paradigms, my work delves into the unseen layers of power structures, unveiling the nuanced interplay between consent and visual representation. By shedding light on these intricacies, I strive to cultivate heightened awareness and stimulate introspection within viewers, fostering a deeper understanding of power dynamics in photography and our broader social landscape.”

Stuart Murdoch

Born in the early nineteen sixties, too late to be a baby boomer, to early to be a Gen X’er. This will have unforeseen ramifications for most of his life. It has been speculated as the driving force behind his creative impulses.  Tries a variety of jobs, in many fields, which are generally unsatisfying. Eventually he succumbs to his secret enjoyment of knowledge. Returns to school to finish his high school education, with a focus on photography. He enjoys this so much he spends two years studying and creating a portfolio. This gains him entry gains him entry to one of the city’s photography colleges. For me sheet film is about control over as much of the scene photographed as possible. Especially when it is intended to become a print. Still; mistakes occur, serendipity too. Making a contact print that is big enough to exhibit is a joy. I’m primarily interested in the way humankind modifies the earth and how nature responds. I’m also interested in recording the changes occurring across Melbourne. Given the scope of these works I tend to focus close to where I live.

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