Domestic coastal architecture is primarily a space for living within. Traditionally the buildings are sparse and functional. They are summer holiday houses simply built. Their exteriors are so ordinary as to pass unnoticed.
At Encounter Bay the 1940-50s houses are slowly being pulled down and grander seaside designs are being built. 51 Franklin Parade, Encounter Bay is a recent example:
I have been slowly photographing the roadside vegetation in my local area on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula with large format cameras--in this case a 5x4 Linhof Technika IV. This kind of slow photography is an attempt to photograph nature whilst avoiding working within the tradition of wilderness photography, which is where a lot of large format photographers in Australia have situated themselves and their work.
The roadside vegetation subject matter is often mundane, ordinary and boring. It requires a lot of scoping to find something that is suitable to photograph, and I basically do the scoping whilst I am on my daily poodle walks along back country roads. These walks allow me to become familiar with the bush and early morning light during the autumn, winter and early spring months.
This particular tree study emerged from my frequent early morning poodle walks along Baum Rd in Waitpinga It's a no exit road that runs between agricultural /grazing fields and it leads to farms and holiday houses along the coastal edge of the Waitpinga Cliffs. This minimal traffic means that this road is ideal for early morning poodle walks.
We went for a an exploratory drive through the hills of the Fleurieu Peninsula towards Yankalilla to become more familiar with the back country roads in our local region. I used the trip in this place to scope some future photographic possibilities. Yankalilla is on the western side of the Peninsula. It is not often that we venture to the western Fleurieu Peninsula.
We started the trip driving along the roads that were familiar with --the ones that Suzanne had walked along when she did the Heysen Trail (Tugwell Rd + Keen Rd). Then we turned west along Hancock Rd and spent a bit of time wandering around, and exploring, the ruins of this Congressional Church at Bald Hills on Hancock Rd. It was our only stop on the trip to Yankallila.
After leaving the ruins of the church we continued along Hancock Rd, turned right into Mayfield Rd, then left into the Inman Valley Rd, which runs east/west across the Peninsula. We drove west along the Inman Valley Rd to the outskirts of the Yankalilla township. We turned around before entering the Yankalilla township, drove back along the Inman Valley Rd before turning into Torrens Vale Rd. We then drove along Parawa Rd up to Range Rd, which is one of the main east west roads across the Peninsula.
The coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula can be quite wild and dangerous especially when the weather is rough or stormy:
When I am walking in those conditions I experience the coastal landscape as dark and strange. Hence my attempts with granite, or rock pools to find a way to represent the dark and the strange without embracing a mystical version of the noumenal world.
This image, for instance, is an attempt to make the coastal landscape along the southern Fleurieu Peninsula dark and strange without going mystical --ie referring to a noumenal world of processes, forms, or ideas that lies behind the phenomenal world that is experienced by us.
The noumenal world can be invoked when trying to explain the phenomenal, by describing the underlying causes of the phenomenal through theoretical reason. Thus theoretical natural science refers to a world of molecules, atoms, electrons, quarks, the curvature of space-time, black holes, the Big Bang, etc. However, this is not the world of objects in space and time (eg.,rocks, sea, seaweed, rock pools etc) that I daily experience with my senses when I am on a poodlewalk.
This picture is from the archives. It was made in 2013 at Kings Head, Waitpinga, just below Kings Beach Retreats. We were still living in Adelaide's CBD at the time, and coming down to Encounter Bay every second weekend.
This photo session incorporated a poodlewalk to Kings Head from the car park at Kings Head Rd and back again. This walk is part of the Heysen Trail to Waitpinga Beach in the Newland Heads Conservation Park, and then to the Trail's starting point at Cape Jervis.
I remembered this image when I uploaded this digital version, which was made 5 years latter as a scoping study. The above picture is a 5x4 scanned colour file that has been converted into black and white. So I had already made the 5x4 picture (along with several medium format versions made in the same year) that I was scoping for in January 2018. My memory was that the previous 5x4 attempt hadn't been successful--people said they didn't think much of the image -- so I felt that I needed to have another go. Hence the digital scoping.
Lately, I have been thinking about stepping beyond the boundaries of this Fleurieuscapes blog that doesn't really go anywhere. I have been thinking along the lines of having another solo exhibition, or of producing a photobook. I have enough material, and my thinking has been that the book is primary and the exhibition is secondary, in that the latter could be used to launch the photo book.
Judging from my experience with the previous Fleurieuscapes exhibition, exhibitions with framed prints are expensive, they have a short existence, and they are quickly forgotten. Few are the memories of them. So it doesn't really add up. However, an exhibition could be used as a platform to launch a photo book, thereby making the latter known to the public at the opening. Distribution is the really big problem with photobooks and launching the book at the opening night of the exhibition would help.
If so, then it is really becomes a question of how to organize the material in a photobook. It needs to have an idea to distinquish it from all the other photobooks being produced. The one that I have toyed with in the past a topological thinking is the idea of place--that is, my experiences of being in a place that is the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. In Heideggerian language to be is to be in place. So it is being -at-home-in-a place.
Photography, after all, is a way of collecting experiences, whilst the book is a way of moving photography away from the white walls of the art gallery. In this case a photography of a limited situatedness of existence in a place that is a series of events or processes in an open region .
This picture was made on an early autumn morning along Franklin Parade in Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor. Franklin Parade runs close to the beach, and it is where the old beachside houses from the 20th century are rapidly being replaced with the larger two story ones.
I was on a poodlewalk with Kayla along the Encounter Bay beach. It was just after sunrise:
Encounter Bay is now my belonging place (home) in the sense that this is where my self belongs. It is where my identity formation as a photographer has formed. A sense of grounding in place provides a solid basis on which to build a sense of identity. This carries with it a sense of responsibility of caring for place that feeds back into, and reinforces, the cohesion of a sense of place. It implies how we as a geographically bounded community collectively learn to live with one another on this earth.
As I mentioned in this post on the poodlewalks blog, I have neglected the Fleurieuscapes project because of my focus on other projects. Though I have been plugging away in a desultory and sporadic fashion, but I really unsure of what I am trying to do with this body of work from my coastal-based photographic practice. Photography, I've realised is good at showing and lousy at explaining. So what an I going to show?
The project is about place, and it is different to the Littoral Zone, Abstraction and Tree projects, even if it does incorporate the odd image from these other projects. Place in the sense of the space of the Fleurieu Peninsula, where people live and have made this space their home. So though Fleurieuscapes incorporates nature it also looks at the built environment at a specific historical moment.
One of the dominate features of the coastline of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula is the movement of the southern ocean along the shoreline. My access to the shoreline is set by the tides and the waves. The sea dumps the dead birds and fish, the seaweed, shells, and the flotsam on the beach or amongst the granite rock, and it then washes them away.
It is the sea as well as the winds that represents the flux of the shore, and shifts the sand on the beaches at Petrel Cove and at Dep's Beach. The sea is also an ever-present danger.
Despite the Fleurieu Peninsula having a long geological history there are no fossils of extinct boneless animals in the rocks along the granite coast, as is the case amongst the limestone cliffs of the treeless Nullarbor Plain.
However, the sea has been a crucial in the land-forming process in the Fleurieu Peninsula's geological history. What largely accounts for the shape and extent of the Fleurieu Peninsula and its Inman River catchment was glaciation of Antarctic proportions that occurred about 300 million years ago when the Antarctic continent was welded against southern Australia. The Peninsula was shaped by the folding and faulting from the Permian glaciation, which affected much of Australia around 300 million years ago.
The ice mass ground its way across the Fleurieu landscape, and it was channelled through the pre-glacial bedrock valley, such as the Inman Trough. The Peninsula and its Inman River catchment was overridden by a continental ice sheet from the south west, and it moved in a northwesterly direction carving through and across the bedrock.
Though the Hindmarsh River doesn't flow during the summer time its estuary is still one of my favourite spots in Victor Harbor: