Journeys North: Graham Burstow’s photographs concentrate on leisure

 
blog-Memories, Brisbane 1987_165_021_001
Graham Burstow, Australia b.1927 / Memories, Brisbane (from ‘Journeys north’ portfolio) 1986-87 / Gelatin silver photograph / Purchased 1987 with the financial assistance of the Australian Bicentennial Authority to commemorate Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
blog-March past, Toowoomba 1987_165_004_001
Graham Burstow, Australia b.1927 / March past, Toowoomba (from ‘Journeys north’ portfolio) 1986-87 / Gelatin silver photograph / Purchased 1987 with the financial assistance of the Australian Bicentennial Authority to commemorate Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
blog-Eyes Right, Coolanngatta 1987_165_023_001
Graham Burstow, Australia b.1927 / Eyes right, Coolangatta (from ‘Journeys North’ portfolio) 1986-87 / Gelatin silver photograph / Purchased 1987 with the financial assistance of the Australian Bicentennial Authority to commemorate Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
blog-Cheer Squad Carra 1987_165_017_001
Graham Burstow, Australia b.1927 / Cheer squad, Carrara (from ‘Journeys North’ portfolio) 1986-87 / Gelatin silver photograph / Purchased 1987 with the financial assistance of the Australian Bicentennial Authority to commemorate Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

In the years leading up to 1988, the Galley commissioned six photographers to produce a portfolio on the theme of community life in Queensland entitled ‘Journeys North’. Their images looked at attitudes to Australian community life, and the unique qualities of the Queensland lifestyle, land and environment. Last exhibited January 1988 it is an ideal time to re-examine this portfolio which highlights how Queensland has changed in the intervening 28 years since the commission.

Graham Burstow’s photographs concentrated on outdoor activities and particularly leisure. In his images, observers are often as important as participants in particular events. Following is his artist statement from the original ‘Journeys North’ exhibition.

Life itself is an interplay of emotions. It is the visual perception of these emotions which give authenticity to our photography. While we all respond differently to the art of recognizing the precise moment to document this interplay, the viewer likewise respond differently, but usually comprehends our work in the simplest way.

Therefore, in this project – which documents the outdoor life of people in southeast Queensland – I have given attention to simplicity, with the underlying emotional tensions to which viewers will respond. I have not intended to mystify nor to extend any degree of abstraction to my subjects. It is my desire to encompass a wide range of lifestyles, which typify the vast majority of the public. They may be spectators, or involved in a particular activity, or may even be at work. I have not devoted much time to the skilled or expert people as these are already covered by magazine photographers or the like. I have always worked in the medium of black and white prints and intend to continue in this way. By photographing in the cities as well as in the country I have aimed to document an interesting variety of people.

I realize that our visual expression is the expression of our inner spirit and I hope that this will be visible in my work when it comes together as a whole.

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Graham Burstow, Australia b.1927 / Anchor man, Karara (from ‘Journeys North’ portfolio) 1986-87 / Gelatin silver photograph / Purchased 1987 with the financial assistance of the Australian Bicentennial Authority to commemorate Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
blog-Chief Cook, Brisbane 1987_171_022_001
Graham Burstow, Australia b.1927 / Chief cook, Brisbane (from ‘Journeys North’ portfolio) 1986-87 / Gelatin silver photograph / Purchased 1987 with the financial assistance of the Australian Bicentennial Authority to commemorate Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

With the financial assistance of the Australian Bicentennial Authority, the Gallery commissioned six photographers who were long term residents of Queensland or had strong associations with the state. Over an eighteen month period Graham Burstow, Lin Martin, Robert Mercer, Glen O’Malley, Charles Page and Max Pam travelled to different regions of the state, documenting social, cultural and environmental diversity.

Revisit our selection of this portfolio until 3 July and re-examine the subjects each photographer examined and reflect on their relevance today. Queensland has, of course, changed in myriad ways in the intervening years, however ‘Journeys North’ provides an intriguing and enduring visual record of some of the people and places that have helped define this State.

Journeys North revisited
20 February – 3 July 2016