Pleasure of Place, an exhibition of photographs by Brisbane based photographer Richard Stringer, opened at the Queensland Art Gallery on 26 October 2013. This comprehensive survey of Stringer’s photographs will hang in Gallery 14 of QAG until March 2014.
Melbourne born Stringer moved to Brisbane in the 1960s following his graduation from Melbourne University with a degree in architecture. He quickly moved to architectural photography – a career he has maintained in Brisbane to this day. This exhibition of mostly monochromatic photographs contains many never before exhibited.
Of even greater significance is the fact that twenty-five of the displayed prints will be generously gifted to the people of Queensland via the QAGOMA Foundation. This is a great addition to a Gallery with not enough high quality photographs.
Sadly many of the buildings featured in this Exhibition no longer exist. It is testament to Stringer’s foresight and doggedness that his photographs are the only memory of some very fine buildings. New Zealand Insurance Building is a good example.
For me, it is the sense of place and memory that comes through in these photographs. Stringer’s recording of deserted urban locations seems to transcend the emptiness and imbue the environment with activity.
This requires the viewer to contemplate and observe what is placed in front of us. This is best seen in Andrew Petrie stonemasons and Dinmore Pottery.
Stringer acknowledges that his craft has been influenced by the Australian photographic greats of Harold Cazneaux and Max Dupain. It is possible that there is no coincidence in the fact that Ed Ruscha is also being shown at QAG at this time. Stringer is Ruscha’s contemporary and there are many parallels to be drawn between the two artists. Yet another reason to visit QAG.
There are some nicely seen landscapes within this show – none more so than View of Brisbane, bicentenary year 1988. You will have to visit the Gallery to see this one, as my reproduction will not do it justice. It is the tourists’ banal view of Brisbane from the Mount Cootha lookout. This viewpoint has been documented hundreds of thousands of times (yours truly included) but never have the details of the city, the humidity of Brisbane nor the architectural clarity of the central business district been delivered with such clarity and skill.
A further inclusion in the Exhibition is a series of portraits. Of particular interest are Luke Roberts, Bellas Gallery, and Anne Wallace. The raison d’être to these images is Stringer’s connection with the contemporary art scene in Brisbane via The Institute of Modern Art; where he has been documenting exhibitions, artists and performance for most of his career. I use the portrait of Anne Wallace self-indulgently, because I had the privilege of taking her portrait very early in her career and it is interesting to contrast my interpretation with that of Stringer. His image portrays Wallace as though she is within one of her paintings – an incisive interpretation.
Pleasure of Place, Photographs by Richard Stringer is this year’s must see photographic exhibition. A joy on every level and a tribute to one of Queensland’s photographic greats.