Juggling her time between photography and dairy farm chores, Wendy Fraser takes time out to speak to FOCUS about her art.
Lives: On a dairy farm in the Avon Valley near Gloucester.
> Years behind the lens: 20.
> I spend my weekdays:
Juggling my time between photography assignments, exhibition work, dairy farm chores and keeping my 2-year-old busy.
> I spend my weekends:
Ditto – we don’t often get weekends away. We sometimes go for a swim in the river, enjoy the Farmers’ Market or watch the cricket at Gloucester Park.
> What do you love about the area you live in?
I was born in Gloucester and have lots of cherished childhood memories. I value the strong community spirit and the rural heritage. I also get to enjoy some of the most beautiful rivers and landscapes in the world. I lived in New Zealand for 6 years and have travelled the world, but there is still no other place I’d rather be right now.
> Did you do any formal study?
My formal training was a Visual Arts degree with a photography major and a ceramics minor at the University of Western Sydney. This training taught me to think ‘outside the square’, to be more conceptual and creative, adding another dimension to my exhibition work.
As importantly though, I was lucky enough to then train as an assistant at Intervision Photography, a busy commercial studio in Newcastle. Under the direction of Chris Patterson, a master of photographic technique, I learnt skills that I still apply every day.
> Which favourite photographers / artists have inspired your passion for photography?
The photographers of the Abstract Expressionist period, like Aaron Siskind and Brett Weston. It was their more abstract images of timber palings and broken glass that inspired my Fourth Dimension body of work. My Fourth Dimension works are recordings of the existence of life through layers of marks on found surfaces. The marks have been created by people or the elements over time.
Our desire to remain forever intrigues me: ‘I was here’ etched into a stone is a perfect example. The images themselves are crossed processed, taken on slide film and processed through the print film process.
> What inspires your photography?
The ability to see and record things in a more creative way.
> What is a project you are working on right now?
Right now, I am working with glassware. We’re backlighting it in the studio for a local business creating a website.
> Something people may not know about your photography?
I’m not an equipment junkie. It frustrates me when the first thing I’m asked is, “What sort of camera do you have?” It’s like asking a builder what sort of hammer he has. Yes, I like to have good gear – but it’s really not important. Understanding what to do with it is.
> Favourite subjects to shoot, and why?
I photograph just about everything: weddings, rusty walls and rural properties from the air. My favourite subject would have to be great architecture. Everything stays put and does what it’s told. I have time to play, to get the compression right, to get the angle right, to get the light right … once this happens, it’s impossible to make great architecture look anything but even greater.
> Why photos will last forever:
What is forever? Nothing lasts forever. Perhaps change is the only permanent thing. Hopefully, we learn to look after our planet well enough to have it last forever.
> Where will people find your best works?
Hanging in the homes and offices of their owners. I will, however, be exhibiting in Pix from the Stix at Gloucester Gallery in July and The Gloucester Art Trail in October.
I’m also working towards a joint exhibition with Walcha landscape artist John Andrews in April 2012. I just love John’s semi abstract paintings and his ability to see the landscape in a more creative way.
I’m working with alternate photography processes, including Gum Bichromate printing. I mix my own emulsion and coat watercolour paper, expose the images in the sun using a supersized negative, rinse them in the bathtub and hang them to dry on the clothesline.
> The key to being a successful photographer:
I guess that depends how you measure success.
> A photo I will remember forever:
As much as I try, I’ll never forget the image by photojournalist Huynh Cong Ut of 9 year old Kim Phuc, severely burned and running after a napalm attack during the Vietnam war.
> Website and contact:
www.wendyfraser.com.au 0429 383 505.
You can also find me on Facebook.