Twenty eight years since ‘Journeys North’ was first exhibited allows us to revisit this important artistic achievement; to re-examine the subjects examined and reflect on their relevance today. Queensland has, of course, changed in myriad ways in the intervening years, however ‘Journey’s North’ provides an intriguing and enduring visual record of the people and places that have helped define this State.
Glen O’Malley travelled extensively through the state, from Brisbane to Cape York and through western Queensland. He concentrated on the theme of domesticity, and recording Queenslanders’ daily experiences.
I have tackled the theme by ‘living’ in people’s homes for a short period of time and photographing them in relation to their environments. In Queensland, an outdoor aspect — backyards, and so on — is very much involved in this method.
Actually, I’ve always seen the world as a fairly surreal place. I think that photographers can walk around and record all sorts of things, which, if a painter did them, would be surrealism… I had a discussion once with someone about whether Queensland is a more surreal place than most or whether I just find it so. The point wasn’t resolved, but we do have a European culture living in a climate which doesn’t suit it.
The Queensland Art Gallery, with the financial assistance of the Australian Bicentennial Authority, commissioned six photographers to produce a portfolio on the theme of community life in Queensland. Exhibited in 1988, their images looked at attitudes to Australian community life, and the unique qualities of the Queensland lifestyle, land and environment.
Although each artist pursued an individual theme, the portfolio presents a coherent record of Queensland society in the late 1980s. The photographers were long term residents of Queensland or had strong associations with the state and over an eighteen month period Graham Burstow, Lin Martin, Robert Mercer, Charles Page and Max Pam also travelled to different regions of the state, documenting social, cultural and environmental diversity.
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