Nature’s Abstract

In two days, I start putting up my photographic work for an exhibition, a joint venture with Susan Nethercote, called ‘Nature’s Abstract‘. I have admired Susan’s work with paint for some time and it dawned on us that we really … Continue reading

Dead or Alive

Does it really matter? Not to me, I have to admit. It doesn’t matter if something is dead or alive, there is still much beauty to be found. In fact I used to love to shoot dead flowers when I was … Continue reading

Christmas focus

At a time when there is always something to do, to help with and to watch out for….

The prawns need marinating, there’s a few salads to put together, and LOOK OUT, that puppy’s nose is getting a little too close to that tray of sweets! Is she eating another Christmas card?…

I stole a moment to take some photos in the garden. I promise it wasn’t while the dishes were being done.

Here is my refuge. Even from myself. I found a few gem items. They might not be all the ones the gardener themselves would have chosen, but it always works that way with me and my camera. It feels a little like “I see dead people”, but much less creeepy.

Between Old Man’s Beard, Spider Orchids, Cactus and Agave, there were some very sweet moments of solitude in the morning light.

Merry Christmas!

May we all seek to create rather than destroy – around us and inside ourselves!

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Being still

Every breath of wind leaves a mark on something. Every stirring vibration creates a shift or a ripple leading elsewhere. Every sign of life is a wound. Where it all begins or ends we can’t be sure, only that it … Continue reading

Freedom – Canon Light Awards, January 2015

So I entered a competition with Canon Australia for January. The theme was ‘freedom’, which is awesome but also very broad.

It conjures all those images of vast landscapes, flying like a bird, surfing, dancing/leaping, etc, which of course were well represented.

I did not win this competition, but wanted to share with you my entry – this ‘Southern Old Lady’.

FREEDOM, January Canon Light Awards. Alison Shirley Photography.

FREEDOM, January Canon Light Awards. Alison Shirley Photography.

 

I found this unfortunate visitor at my studio. He’d already passed and had a buddy with him too. (I can’t tell male from female by the way!). I couldn’t quite believe the perfect formation of it. I looked it up on the internet and most of the images I found of this species were shot with their wings totally open, which doesn’t have the same incredible impact that this guy had on me. Front on, it looked like I was staring at the face of a cat. What an awesome and convincing disguise – so striking. It got me thinking about freedom too.

There are so many versions of the idea of freedom. This guy had me thinking about the way that we can concern ourselves so seriously with the way we think people see us. Of course we can never really know the way people see us, but it certainly impacts on many decisions in ours lives, too many if we allow it.

For me freedom is an inner peace. Part of this is definitely about learning to be free of the opinions of others, in order to truly listen to myself. It might sound basic, but sometimes the opinions of the world and community, through multitudes of media, images and sound can be so deafening it’s hard to hear yourself think. (Then again, sometimes it’s my own voice that I need to shut down in order to think with clarity and truth.)

This little guy knows how to deflect what you think you can see of him and go under the radar, in order to survive his predators.

His ability to remain himself while you think he looks like something entirely different is his strength and ticket to freedom.

We can learn from him.

Although I did not get a place in the comp, by the look of this shot of the judge, my photo does seem to be flagged in the background (4 down from the top in the right corner), so perhaps I got a look-in?

Judge - Graham Munro

How about you? What would your image of freedom be?

 

 

Check out the beautiful winning entries here

 

 

 

Learning to look up

I’m on a pathway of learning to love what I am, what I have and who I am.

It’s not that I won’t be trying to improve, but I’ve come to realise that I waste a great deal of energy lamenting what is NOT present in my life, my body and my immediate world.

Of course this is destructive, wasteful and poor management of energy, among other things!

So it is a year of moving forward, perhaps not without fear, but THROUGH fear. Yes, I do that every year. I guess I want to leap a little further, a little higher, be airborne a little longer.

Perhaps I have already learnt to trust myself more and that it’s ok to spread my wings further without knowing what will happen.

What will happen is life – as always – abundant with the full spectrum of emotions and experiences.

I’m a private person and sometimes that prevents me from exposing myself as utterly as art does. It also leaves me feeling as though I have nothing to “say”.

So rather than concerning myself too much with that, I will just BE.

So here is me, trying something new, learning to look up at the abundant sky – simultaneously reminding me how minuscule and integral I am.

I hope you enjoy…

 

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January night sky, 2015

I SEE YOU

I was standing on a mountain with a bunch of old friends the other day. We were at a mate’s property, before a huge bonfire, celebrating 2 friends’ 40th birthdays – all camping out together for the night.

In my brief conversation with one of the boys, we quickly came to be talking about spirituality. “I think that’s one of the things that all of us here have in common, our sense of spirituality is all about feeling connected…. TO THE LAND!” I chimed in. Most definitely, or in Matty’s case, more the OCEAN.

I make no claim to the kind of spirituality Aboriginal culture speaks of. As far as I am aware I have no heritage to link me there. And the fullness and complexity of traditional knowledge goes far and deep beyond my imaginings.

However, I do feel that rich and powerful connection to the land where I was born and I feel that divine appreciation for a natural landscape – in my own homeland and elsewhere on this planet.

This is why photography is somewhat like my bible. It helps me to stop and study my spirituality. I open my shutter and stop to breathe in the miraculous, the divine. It helps me to focus, calm myself, feel and capture my appreciation. The image becomes a thank you, an “I SEE you”.

This might sound a tad hippy, but once I climbed a tree in the dry Todd River bed of Alice Springs, hung my arms and legs around a huge branch and whispered “I promise to show the world, or remind the world how beautiful you are”.

Perhaps I was also whispering that to myself, as I seek to remind myself and everyone of our deserving of self-love and healthy worshipfulness. For is not my body a natural wonder?

The more I learn about it, the more I admire it, want to learn to respect it and see it as miraculous.

 

My macro work brings me in close, to see what is otherwise invisible or over-looked. And that is a whole new world of discovery. David Attenborough himself couldn’t be more excited by the layers and beauty that it reveals. Again, my anatomy study is a similar act with familiar outcomes. The inner workings of my body is also complex and inspiring, with multitudes of daily miraculous events occurring.

So photographing the earth, sky, sea, the natural world, including the human body is like entering a temple and bowing in prayer.

It is where I find peace, meet my maker and meet my humanity and my soul, even.

I wish more world leaders could feel this in their hearts and souls too. They might then be able to act as our Christ and save us, rather than our Judas. For what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves.

It’s impossible to live and breathe and adore this earthly place, without facing my own body within it, as part of it, my vessel to take me through this version of a life experience. Why then the epic struggle to truly love and cherish my own mountains, deep valleys, volcanic eruptions, hailstorms, deserts, lush rainforests and spinifex within?

It is a constant journey, but I intend to celebrate that journey. I trip up a lot, but I am still moving on it. Which brings me to my next body of work, an idea that has been brewing for a number of years. It’s fruition is overdue.

A combination of the body of the earth and the body of us. I’m looking for signs of life to photograph: scars, stretch marks, unusual markings, lines, blemishes, etc.

Please put yourself forward if you have any of these. You won’t be identified, your markings will be abstracted.

Please contact me through my facebook page if you wish to take part.

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The colour of hope

It has been awhile, my apologies!

Last year was terrible and challenging for a number of people I love and care about.

I did a great deal of moving, and now comes a time to settle properly where I am and enjoy.

It was a busy year for me, photographically. Lots to catch up on, but for now I would like to show you a few shots from my wanderings closer to home.

For it is in this place that I live and explore. Right now I am working on pieces that incorporate both photography (still and moving) – and dance! It all comes together!! All those parts of me that most love to show themselves.

This series is a taste of an exhibition to come.

It is about hope.

It is about the great dry.

The need to live in hope and the need to survive the great dry.

The land expresses everything that we as human bodies experience – and it’s telling me to stay hydrated and treasure those magical life forces that we take so for granted most of the time.

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“Myrniong turn off”, Victoria

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“Barbed wire fence” Myrniong turn off, Western Highway, Victoria

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“Shades of dry” Myrniong turn off, Western Highway, Victoria

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“Tired and cross”, Myrniong turn off, Western Highway, Victoria

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“White wash”, Myrniong turn off, Western Highway, Victoria

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“Field meeting”, near Myrniong, Victoria

A new day in a new way 2013

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If you have been wondering where I have gone with my photography, I’ll tell you – into snappy land.

Being summer and having a holiday and sunshine, lots of outdoor time, some relaxing time and visiting family etc, I found a new photography addiction in the form of Instagram.

SO I entered the digital world tentatively, thinking I was a purest, and I’ve landed here, where all things are quick and simple.

It didn’t take me long for two reasons:

I have always loved the square format. I still have a beautiful Mamiya twin lens medium format camera which I still shoot with sometimes. I love it. Square has long been a favourite for me.

Then there is the ease of having your phone with you – as opposed to needing to carry around your heavy camera.

Now don’t misunderstand me. This is about the everyday, the snaps that would otherwise pass you by, the moments that you can see and grab quickly.

They don’t replace the other work I do. They are simply another form of my photography and I have to say I am having a lot of fun with this!

I hope you enjoy them too.

Above, was the trip to Sydney, below the heavenly holiday in Hobart.

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Then some gorgeous days in Dover, south of Hobart, fortunately not near where the fires were raging. You can see how orange the sky was at times though.

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And then back to work and driving to and from town and city

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In 2013, celebrating what is my town, wondering around it in the sunshine when I can and taking a look about the place.

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Have fun this year, enjoy your photography which ever way you like it, just make sure you shoot.