Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Colours of Our Community™ Project

Original Post Published on 15th February 2011:
What do you think constitutes a good definition of the idea of "community"? Some people in the art circles will tell you it's nothing more than an excuse to produce "bad art" and that there's really no such thing as a community - it's just a human construct of the mind, like time.

Growing up, I pondered this very question. In our neighbourhood at the time of my teenage years, there were a large amount of "community services" being offered by the local council but I hardly felt that any of them related to me and my needs and so, I wasn't able to find identity within that. I kept looking for a definition of community that related to me.

Fast forward to the first year of my adult life and I find myself walking on the same street on which I was born. Crown Street, Surry Hills. There used to be a hospital there. On this day, it was a run-down, closed off to the public, decrepit building in need of a major renovation. I looked upon it, for the first time ever, as a curiosity. So this was where it all started. What did that mean to me?

Late for an appointment, I walked on and turned my attentions back to the client I was about to meet with. I had to present some creative concepts for promotional materials to be used for their next bacchanalian dance party.

And that's when I felt it. Somehow, for the first time, I felt a sense of belonging. It just felt right, being in that space. A sense of connection, not only to the hospital and the street it was on, but also for the creative people living and working in the area around it. That's when I began to see the colours of my community...

"Colours of Our Community" is a trademark of Quaetapo Media Pty Limited ABN 77 091 248 663

Additional Edit Published on 8th June 2016:
Many years later, at the start of the digital revolution in 2006, I picked up the camera again and began shooting, only this time it was a digital SLR. It was with a Canon of course, because they're simply the best kit on the market.

Guided by a conversation I had with one of my photography idols, the genius William Yang, I decided to embark on a photo essay of the local community in and around Oxford Street, the LGBTQI community in Sydney, their friends and supporters. It led me on many different paths - a fascinating ten year account of the personalities and events that make up the full spectrum of the colours of our community - and it presented many challenges along the way.

These challenges were both internal; with my own creativity, my confidence, my ego, with developing my own style, with exploring other styles and other forms of photography while honing my editing skills - and externally; the challenges of cashflow in a world drowned in a tsunami of image content, with balancing the needs of my significant other with the job at hand, with seeking recognition for my work and acceptance from my contemporaries, mentors and the wider community for my style which is sometimes labelled as "community art" which apparently carries little significance or described as "too commercial" and therefore not even worthy of the categorisation of the term "art".

Well, it is my form of photographic art and I pushed through regardless, knowing that my account of this ten year period has historical significance and while some pieces are fine-art worthy, others are editorial or commercial in nature and I'm ok with that.

Now I'm at the conclusion of this ten year journey, I'm preparing my first exhibition of the entire collection and publishing a book to accompany it. It's due for release in early 2017. And as it's a book about our community, I think it's only fitting and quite natural that the community could be called upon to help take the evolution of this concept into the light.

For now, if you could share this post with your networks, either on Facebook, Google+, Twitter or anywhere you think would make a difference, please go ahead. Later I will be offering pre-sales of the book to help fund the printing and shipping of the book and prints for the exhibition.

Love and light always,

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