When I was a younger fella in 1983 I had the great honour of doing some very fun things. One of the breakout moments came when I returned to Adelaide after spending a year or so in Sydney at NIDA. My mind was not in a great place after a year at an acting school so I took an adventure with a friend and eventually ended up back home in South Australia doing a play called Ball Boys with Douglas Mason at what was then called ‘The Red Shed’ for the Fringe Festival. Douglas and I had met at the Adelaide Theatre Group.
We shared The Red Shed with a company that had driven over from Melbourne called StraightFace Productions. They were doing a few short plays by Tobsha Learner a young writer and sculptor. Part of the posse travelling with StraightFace was JeanMarc Dupre an artist and printmaker.
JeanMarc and I spent some time buzzing around Adelaide and enjoying eachothers company. The Adelaide Fringe Festival was yet to go mega mainstream and Tobsha’s play Is it Buckskin that holds the hand? was a minimalist work that evoked cabaret and existentialism really nicely with some repetition that became absurdly amusing for a sophisticated audience. They managed to get a great shot on the cover of the Sydney Morning Herald which impressed everyone no end at the time.
JeanMarc chatted about lighting with me. As a photographer he was interested in lighting in a very organic way. A lot of what he was saying reminded me of Artau a writer whom had written about using natural forces to light the theatre so JM and I found a lot to discuss which with his thick accent was always an inspiration. We talked about the statues around Adelaide in relation to a piece he was thinking of and before I knew it we were out in the middle of the night taking long exposure photographs.
For me, this came after a year of working my butt off as best I could among some of Australia’s finest actors and creative types; I needed to get away from myself at NIDA more than anything because the more that was stripped away the more I realised what a mess my head was in. Ouch. It was great to be back in the free world and able to mix with artists who were ready to create. JM encouraged me to come to Melbourne; Tobsha encouraged me to come on over, so I did. I lived for a while with Tobsha and then in a spare room at Jean-Marc’s home.
This made it possible to continue with the notion of the physical interacting with the inanimate with the artist painting the black open frame with light via exposure and other secret artists’ business.
Jean-Marc was honoured to have these photographs shown at ANTHILL Gallery as well as part of other group exhibitions. Wonderful work. The woman who appears, Bryony Hawkins whom I also knew from Adelaide Theatre Group.