I attended an exhibition last night – at our local pub.
(It is quite normal to use pubs as art venues out here – a natural meeting place with the drinks and nibblies on hand! And this pub is run by a couple of artists, so it’s really only fitting!)
It was a photo exhibition by a local identity known to one and all, simply as ‘Spook’.
The photos were taken during a time when only darkrooms were used to develop images… and each stage of the process belonged to the photographer. They were mostly of wedding portraits of local couples…
Simple black and white prints pinned to boards, with no captions (Spook could remember some, but not all, so left them all un-named). It was quite the guessing game, as we tried to pinpoint who was in each image! Luckily we had some long-time residents on-hand to help us out with a few…
The crowd paused for the official opening…
…when Spook and the brother of his old mate Gil (a well-known painter, for whom the exhibition was dedicated, now deceased) reminisced about what it means to be an artist, and what the two had been like in their ‘hey day’.
For as long as I can recall, Spook has always looked the same.
We discovered how he got his name (for the area in which he spent his childhood years, ‘Ghost Gully’).
Now in his 80′s, Spook has an enormous collection of images, which he has no idea what to do with. Already a house fire and the floods have ruined many of his collection.
He threatened during this speech to get rid of the rest…
I asked him later ‘not to, please?’ So much history all piled up… too much for him to go through, but we are hoping that the local council might help him out.
Spook gave me a bit of a hard time when I explained that I too, am a photographer.
‘No you’re not,’ he said. ‘You are one of these new-fangled digital artists!’.
Heh. Made me smile.
I argued that I had done my apprenticeship in a newsroom darkroom – we talked apertures and lense lengths for a little and he seemed to relax.
He reluctantly let me shoot this image, with one of his favourite old cameras.
A couple of questions for you…
How do you save these kinds of collections? How do put a price on the history of an area, and of an artform?