Black and White Photography


Howard Taylor, Northcliffe 1988 - Picture Story

Dec 2nd, 2018 • Stories

This post is being updated, images referred to by file number will be inserted later, and all the spelling and grammatical errors corrected.

I have always made artists portraits, usually snaps while working or in conversation with them.  I had an exhibition of some of the Western Australian artist portraits in the Hay Street iteration of the Gallery Galerie Dusseldorf , in month year.

I photographed Howard Taylor on three occasions, firstly as snapshots during the colour documentation of his work in February 1988 for the Galerie Dusseldorf exhibition in Perth WA.  Secondly I photographed him during a visit to the Southern Forest Region in March the same year.  Thirdly I recorded the installation of Colonnades at Gallery Dusseldorf in March 1995.  In addition to these events I documented his son Brett working on the Wandoo sculpture commissioned by the Western Australian Government as a gift to Parliament House, Canberra (19)

From the first 1998 visit I was struck by the careful placement of the high windows in Howard’s studio, which gave a high diffuse light to the entire space, a similar feeling to the light normally found in the surrounding karri forest during the build up of high cloud before a cold front my favoured time for photographing in the forest.  I was also impressed that the studio was obviously given far more space and importance than the simple house they lived in, which was comfortable, but basic.

19880229ser - The first set are mostly wide angle images showing Howard in the end room of his studio, included are many of the small drawings and works he and Douglas Sheerer were selecting for Gallery Dusseldorf, later I made a few closer portraits, often including the making take and toilet roll that were always at hand.

19880318D12 – This, which is one of my most popular images, was made after I had finished the portraits of Howard and he was returning to his work.  I quickly snapped this picture, the last on the roll in a basic Rolleiflex.  Realising something special was happening I quickly put another roll of film in the Rollei’ and continued the series.  By comparison the subsequent roll, after this previous end frame, lack the quality of quiet intensity this one possesses.  This image shows the nature of the high diffuse light to which I referred earlier.

19950301ser – Were made during the installation of Colonnades at Galerie Dusseldorf.  In these pictures Sheila Taylor is shown helping with the installation (19950301A25). Generally Sheila managed to avoid being photographed, but in these images I feel her presence is important as the primary supporter of Howard and his work.  Sheila asked “Haven’t you got enough?” but realising the importance of this image I continued working for a little longer.

This time of working included the picture of Howard’s hand painting the wall behind the sculpture, one of the few close details I recorded of him (19950301C04).

In conclusion, seeing Howard Taylor’s work prior to my own photographic work in the karri forest, where I now live, influenced me to seek the subtle light of this region in preference to the harsh light of summer.  However, I have never tried to abstract details of the forest in the way he did.

My own work in the forest has been primarily documentation of the destruction and defence of the forest.  This brought me into direct conflict with the interests of Bret Taylor and his colleagues, whom Sheila totally supported, and in turn this brought about the end of my association with the Taylor family, as I took a stance in total opposition to the ravages of the unsustainable timber industry (19981028D25).  Ted Snell once claimed in conversation that Howard considered the logging industry to be sustainable, when any analysis whatsoever showed it was not, it was destroying the very source of Howard Taylor’s forest light inspiration.

Camera, Rolleiflex 2.8F with 80mm Zeiss Planar, the film was Kodak TriX Pan developed in replenished D76d.  This is one of the easiest negatives I have ever printed.  A few weeks previous to this portrait I made a set of 35mm Nikon F with 20mm and 105mm Nikkor lenses


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