It’s that time again: the yearly trip to The Archibalds on Tour. We were off to see portraits in paint.

On the way, I found my attention drawn to architectural features and streetscapes … this in spite of the fact people would be the focus of the exhibition and I wanted to write a blog post about the trip. Presumably, a blog post about people and portraiture.

After the first eye-catching laneway, I went looking for more.

Its personal

“I know what I like!”

That’s a bit either/or. Either liking or not liking.

Another response could be: “I can appreciate that”. It takes a bit more thoughtfulness to embark on a journey between the extremes; a bit more effort that we sometimes don’t have time for.

There will always be artworks that bowl us over at the first viewing. Out for a duck. Lost for words. Enraptured.

The stimulation we experience at that point, at that novelty, is addictive and then the rest appear a bit pedestrian. It leaves us looking for the next amazing image and we can start to develop an either/or attitude.

Either I like, or I don’t, and I know what I like.

I don’t put faces on my blogs. It was a deliberate choice right from the get-go. As a result, I’ve lost an old habit. I used to hide behind the camera at functions. The result was, is, boxes and boxes of people to be scanned so they can be shared again with family and friends.

But an absence of people in my photos doesn’t completely rule out portraiture.

I noted at The Archibalds that some paintings include a few extra items. There’s the person, inevitably, and then there’s other stuff … furniture, knick knacks, tableware and so on. Each item thoughtfully considered by the painter as a way of adding to the story of the portrait. Even the choice of background is significant.

Take away the person and the rest will still tell part of the story; still function as part of a portrait, albeit enigmatic and mysterious ……… and maybe unresolved.

Now it gets even more personal

I’ve started a new game for 2019. It’s called “12.32 on Saturday”.

When the alarm goes off at 12:32pm each Saturday, I think about what I’m doing and where I am, and take a photo to capture that.

Will the sum of these over the course of the year make a self-portrait? No face. Just a lot of context and stuff.

The project is only five weeks old, five photographs, so I’m still getting the hang of it. I’ve decided that super close-ups don’t contribute much to the story. There needs to a bit of context, a bit more background, a few related items, a sense of place and time. Like in some of the paintings at The Archibalds.

When I look back over my five shots, this is the only one that feels right. The big question is whether I can produce 40 or so images that will say something about me in 2019 … AND not be boring?

12.32 on Saturday 26 January 2019

Back to The Archibalds

If you’re in the area, a trip to Orange is highly recommended. There are a range of portraiture styles on display, which makes it a wonderful opportunity compare and contrast, and take that journey.

Orange Regional Gallery until 10 April.

Infographic advertising the 2018 Archibald Prize at the Orange Regional Gallery, containing link to the ORG gallery.

Don’t forget upstairs – the Young Archie Central West Portrait Competition (we did forget and have to go back!)


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