Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Portrait of an Australian Photographer!

On Sunday night, after watching The Abby, unable to sleep, I stayed tuned to the ABC for a great documentary film called 'Girl in a mirror: a portrait of Carol Jerrems' (Kathy Drayton, 2005, Australia)

(Image removed)

Vale street by Carol Jerrems (1949-1980)
(Image courtesy of National Gallery of Australian)

Once again I found myself awakened to a new understanding of my world. I had been totally ignorant of this Iconic artist until I happened across a copy of Art and Australia Magazine at the library a year or so ago! I know I'd seen several of Jerrem's images before but had never known anything about them or where the photographer was from.

After watching Girl in a mirror I realized why the images seemed slightly familiar to me. The subjects were from West Heidelberg not far from where I grew up in the 70s and 80s! The young guys in the documentary seemed so familiar to me. Memories came flooding back of a less refined, less sympathetic and slightly rougher lifestyle that greeted me as a young person at the very end of the 1970s. Transition from primary school to Tech was an abrupt upheaval into a world of toughness and occasional violence. Welcome to the real world! Some kids didn't get through that stuff in one piece, some were spat out in pieces! Somehow I survived relatively unscathed... Dumb luck I reckon!

Now after about 20 years it's fascinating to look back on that time, but not to stare. Although I was only a small kid when Carol Jerrems was photographing the gritty core of Urban Australian life the characters are very familiar to me! Somehow she manages to combine tenderness, vulnerability and strength with a very strong undercurrent of harshness!
Vale street is a totally mesmerizing and personal image!

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