Exhibition Review: Bob Kersey – “Twenty Degrees of Analogue” by David Tatnall

Twenty Degrees of Analogue
Photographs by Bob Kersey
Gold Street Studios Workshops & Gallery
700 James Lane. Trentham East. Victoria
until 21 July 2013

Viewing by appointment 03 5424 1835

Bob Kersey portrait“Art cannot be described. Art describes”. Bob Kersey

The first thing that struck me looking at Bob Kersey’s exhibition was the diverse nature of the subjects and fine quality of the exhibition prints.

Bob is an Australian photographer with a background in film and television. Since 1993 he has devoted his energies to fine art photography. In this time Bob has become masterly at photographic print making specializing in silver gelatin, platinum palladium and ziatype photographs. His work has been exhibited several times including at Point Light Gallery in Sydney, the now closed PhotoSpace in Melbourne, Bathurst Regional Gallery and Meyer Gallery in Sydney (a gallery he co-directs with Mary Meyer).

One of the big issues photographers have to face is how to make sense of the work that is produced. The dilemma of choosing photographs for an exhibition can often bring an exhibition undone. Ultimately the exhibition must make sense as a whole, not necessarily as a theme, but it must have coherency.

The diverse nature of the photographs exhibited have been chosen to best show various photographic printing techniques rather than a story. As a result the exhibition is best viewed as fine examples of those techniques rather than a coherent body of work.

I found some of the photographs although beautiful, simply didn’t sit well together: the beautifully lit and printed silver gelatin photograph The Glass from Prague, and the outback landscapes Shadow Over Cracked Earth and Scrammy Gorge or the group photograph of jazz musicians Ten Part Invention being examples.

It is good to see that Bob is not afraid to exhibit an enlargement from a 35 mm negative Sydney Harbour Bridge in the same exhibition as a contact photograph from an ultra large format 12 x 20 negative Multitude. This illustrates that a skilful printer can make a fine print from a small negative that can sit well technically with a large format contact photograph.

There are many different photographic print types shown in this exhibition. (made from negative sizes from 35 mm and 120 roll film, to large format 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 and the rare in Australia 12 x 20 ultra large format): Silver gelatin – toned in selenium or gold. Platinum palladium, ziatype, POP (printing out paper), liquid emulsion and Polaroid, printed as direct contact photographs or enlarged.

Bob Kersey Wombat tentEllie and Alan Young of Gold Street Studios have beautifully hung the exhibition’s various diverse subject themes, ranging from the Mekong River to Sydney Harbour Bridge, the channel country of Queensland to the Italian Dolomites.

For me the standout photographs in the exhibition where Cloudmaker, a 4 x 5 platinum palladium photograph of a sombre and stormy view of Mount Cloudmaker in the Great Dividing Range. Multitude, a 12 x 20 platinum palladium photograph of iron capped mesas in Queensland’s channel country. The Tent in the Wombat Forest an 8 x 10 silver gelatin gold toned photograph, a beautiful backlit photograph of a tent set up in the Wombat State Forest (a very short distance from Gold Street Studios Gallery). The photograph was made during the annual View Camera Gathering an event run since 2006 that brings together large format photographs from around Australia to Trentham in Victoria to make photographs and share ideas and views about large format photography.

Twenty Degrees of Analogue is an exhibition anyone with an interest in the diversity of hand made printing methods available to contemporary photographers today should see. All the methods of printing are taught at Gold Street Studio, the ziatype method by Bob Kersey himself. The photographs are priced from $300 to $1400 and are conservation matted and framed.

Gold Street Studios Workshops and Gallery specialize in teaching and showing hand made photography. The small gallery next to the teaching space has since it opened in 2010 shown work of national and international significance. Photographers shown there include: Ralph Gibson, Tim Rudman, Mike Ware, Karl Koenig, Joyce Evans, Ellie Young, Gordon Undy and Steve Tester.

This exhibition has some beautiful photographs; it also shows the diversity of options photographers have to choose from when hand making prints. It is well worth the visit.

Gold Street Studios Workshop & Gallery

David Tatnall. June 2013

David Tatnall is represented by Gold Street Studios & Gallery

Bob Kersey Balmain Ferry