Dean Golja

AUSTRALIAN

From the series, AUSTRALIAN. Belmont, Geelong

From the series, AUSTRALIAN. Belmont, Geelong

The criteria for a well-known (and very rich) photographic competition asks for images that reflect “Australian life”.  

It’s absurd to expect this to be represented in a solitary image and most of the time attempts results in a cliché or a kind of crude, misguided myth.

But that’s not to say that you meet a person and the impression is: they could be from no other part of the world.

It’s then more like an experience with character and place rather than a picture; you are interacting with language, expression, light, sound, environment, a human… all distinctively Australian.

Time

Sharon. Surrey Hills, Sydney. (Palm Project)

Sharon. Surrey Hills, Sydney. (Palm Project)

St Augustine said about time: “What is time? If you don’t ask me, I know; but if you ask me, I don’t know”.

 At the end of the 4th century and way ahead of his time, this theologian and philosopher went on to elaborate on ideas about subjective time as it co-exists through three essential categories: “time present of things past, or memory; time present of things present, or direct experience; time present of future things, or expectation.”

Altogether, it’s almost a formula for making a photographic image: Every shutter click distills a kind of truth told in that moment, as it has been before and will be again, but never in quite the same way. The difference, which St Augustine would appreciate if he was around now, is that we can hold a photograph up like a mirror to the present at the same time it represents the past.

This is the idea we aimed for in the Palm Project, a program devised for Oasis, using photography as a subtle path towards self-reflection.

Brief

Betty Churcher. Wamboin, NSW (For Good Weekend Magazine)

Betty Churcher. Wamboin, NSW (For Good Weekend Magazine)

THE EDITORIAL IMAGE

The most thrilling of all photography related feelings has to be the receipt of a brief from a magazine art / photo-director. All other art or commercial obligations are pushed aside to make way for the potential honor of immortalising someone on the page.

It’s in this very way that the challenge came to contribute to a summer edition story on: “Prominent women with Grey Hair”. What initially sounded like a light-headed idea lead, as it often does, to an unforgettable encounter.

The reference and tribute to Whistler came naturally and felt appropriate for one of Australia’s greatest arts advocate.

Sacred sights

Untitled. From the series, Still Lives. St Peters, NSW

Untitled. From the series, Still Lives. St Peters, NSW

We are accustomed to seeing objects, (like in advertising campaigns, for instance) given more significance then what they are worth. So, the purpose of this series was to raise the status of discarded goods to cultural signposts, to give them another moment to be remembered or even worshiped.

 A few years back, a PHd Student from LaTrobe University had an epiphany while standing in front of the pillars of Stonehenge. What if the theories about how monuments functioned in pagan rituals to appease the Gods…what if these ideas were far-fetched and too elaborate? Instead, could they have had a practical, more mundane purpose? Could they be objects to mark a collective memory?

This theory has gained some traction in archeological circles and actually makes a lot of common sense. There would have been no point to worship through art for the ancient Druids or, for that matter, indigenous Australians, whose Rock paintings are considered by many now as journal entries and manuals for survival.