Our connection to Victor Harbor as a place, as opposed to a tourist location, came with the decision by Suzanne's parents-- Bruce and Marjorie Heath---to retire to this region of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula from Melbourne.
Suzanne's parents built their retirement house near Rosetta Head, and though Bruce, died in 1980 just after the house was built, Marjorie lived in the house until her death in 1997. Both Bruce and Marjorie loved the local landscape of the Fleurieu Peninsula. This place--it was bounded by Aldinga, Kangaroo Island, and lakes Alexandrina and Albert near the mouth of the River Murray---became their home.
Gary meet Suzanne in 1993 and we used to visit Marjorie on weekends and public holidays. Whilst staying at Solway Cresent Gary started taking photographs of the local landscape.These were in the pre-digital days of film cameras when all the work--processing and printing --- was done by the professional photography labs.
Suzanne and her sister Barbara inherited the house when Marjorie died, and Suzanne bought Barbara out, primarly because Suzanne lived in Adelaide whilst Barbara lived in Brisbane. Suzanne and Gary continued to visit on weekends and holidays.
Solway Cresent became a weekender. Over the next decade Victor Harbor became a place, a home away from the inner city apartment in Adelaide's CBD and the world of work. The region became a place in that we developed a sense of human attachment and belonging.
The photography became an expression of our sense of place, a way of giving meaning to this geographic space. We started to realize that the landscape of the Fleurieu Peninsula had its own identity. The local painters exhibiting in the local art galleries were pre-modernist in that their paintings were of gum tree a la Hans Heysen or Horace Hurtle Trenerry, rural cottages, or picturesque seascapes with their blue sky and sea.
Modernism was not solely an urban phenopmenon as there the modernist painters of the Fleurieu Peninsula such as Dorrit Black, Dora Chapman and James Cant in the 1940's -1970s. The local visual art scene was either unaware of, or had fogotten, this body of work, or the regional culture was indifferent to abstraction and the abstract expressionist representations of the locality. What was missing was Black's emphasis on the form of the landscape; Cant's closely observed paintings of the undergrowth and minutia of the Australian bush or scrub; Chapman's abstractions of eucalepts; or the surrealism of Ivor Francis.