A personal note
This is not a review of Trent Parke’s magnificent and sombre work, but a gentle personal impression.
This last week found me once again in the beautiful halls of the Art Gallery of South Australia, seeing Trent Parke’s ‘The Black Rose’.
One series of images from the exhibition showed a defrosting snake next to a demolishing house – ‘The house of film’.
For me, the house of film was about decay and destruction. It was one of many series and images in the exhibition that flirted with the same theme.
I won’t say more than that. It’s early in the exhibition’s run and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone else. I will say that if you go, take your time. And go more than once. There’s a lot to take in.
In the same week, I also went to hear Trent’s talk with exhibition curators Julie Robinson and Maria Zagala and guest speakers Alasdair Foster, freelance art writer and curator, and Bronwyn Rennex, Director of Stills Gallery.
The combination of this talk and Trent’s artwork is an incredibly generous gift.
In addition to the particular sombre beauty of the exhibition, it was heartening for me personally. I live, with a lovely man, in a house of film. The formats come in all manner of sizes, but mostly bear shades that fall between black and white. While I usually shoot 35mm, I’m just as happy with the digital format and am willing to try whatever works. To see and hear that an accomplished creative photographer like Trent is happy to mix media – 35mm, large format and digital – was wonderful. It provided a personal connection to an incredible artist.
It didn’t stop there.
Think of your favourite artist. Is it van Gogh? Van Dyck? Imagine visiting their hometown, seeing their work, understanding that you held the same sort of brush and . . . then there’s an image. An image of a place you’ve been. A place that perhaps you even tried to capture.
For me, that image was ‘Pirate Ship’ at St. Kilda.
I’ve stood there. Same stones. Same sky. But that guy stood there too. He came out of his house of film and captured my world. And then he turned it around and showed it to me.
A more vivid and unforgettable reaction to a piece of art I couldn’t imagine.
Art at its very, very best.
Trent Parke, once again, has found the extraordinary in the ordinary.
A note for educators: for those interested in seeing the exhibition with a study group or class I can heartily recommend Trent Parke, The Black Rose, Education Resource PDF, prepared by the Art Gallery of South Australia.