2012 – Mike Read - The Way
The 2012 recipient of The Pool Grant is Mike Read, a Melbourne based photographer who studied at RMIT, with his winning proposal 'The Way'.
Since the 8th century, pilgrims have been following El Camino de Santiago, or The Way of Saint James, from various routes across Europe to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compestela. Whilst originally a religious trek, more and more people without any any religious affiliation are walking "The Way" in order to facilitate personal change as they battle blisters and the introspectiveness brought on by the solemnity of walking alone for weeks on end.
This series places these personal changes amidst the backdrop of rural Spain - a country itself making it's own changes both geographically and in the national psyche as it faces, like much of Europe, austerity measures caused by one of it's gravest economic crisis.
With the grants funding Mike will travel to St Jean Pied de Port, the traditional start of the pilgrimage in South-Western France, and work his way on foot over the 780km journey to Santiago de Compostela in North-Western Spain over a six week period.
Over this period he will use documentary photography to capture the story of change; both personal change and the changes of a nation battling economic and unemployment crises.
This body of work will also document the personal changes that happen to pilgrims as they travel the route. An important part of the imagery will focus on the landscape, both geographic and political, which is hand-in-hand with the physical challenges that are a catalyst for the personal changes.
The people that travel this journey in order to better themselves as people have made a decision to take control of their lives.
By positioning the notion of personal change against a country which is facing it's own challenges, especially in economic terms, Mike aims to raise questions about the importance of control, both personal control and national control, and just how much is within our grasp.
2011 – Brodie Standen - Unseen
“My honours project in 2010, The Space Between Men began to examine masculinity in contemporary Australian society and explored the complex and multi-dimensional relationships between young men.
Through this modern day coming of age story, I sought to capture the rituals, practices and environments that these individuals occupy during their rite of passage from boys to men.
I would like to extend this theme onto another body of work that continues to bring some of these issues to light, hoping to give a voice to the ordinary man while contributing to a visual anthropology of Australian male culture today.
While today it may appear to be common sense that peers, camaraderie and bonding are what defines us, it is how these elements are expressed in the male world that I wish to discover more complexly in this project.
The project will be conducted through the medium of documentary photography and researched thoroughly. The aim of the project is to highlight significant issues facing young men in Australia today by documenting the common and familiar. The project aims to create an intimate record of these men’s lives and experiences and will use both text and image to communicate the results of this research.
With the grant’s funding, I would be able to immerse myself in male culture around both urban and rural Australia and most importantly would provide me an opportunity and platform to get these immensely important and overlooked stories told.
Within contemporary society males are pressured to walk a fine line between the traditional stereotypes and modern expectations; being strong and detached while displaying style, intelligence and sensitivity. By documenting the changing ideas of masculinity, the roles played by males in contemporary Australian society will be highlighted and will challenge the relatively shallow-representation of males in our culture.”
We look forward to seeing his final body of work at the Pool Grant Exhibition
2010 – Bridget Mac -‘Artists Of The Eastern Bloc’
“Before the late 1980s, Eastern Bloc radio and television organisations were state‐owned. Youth newspapers and magazines were owned by youth organisations affiliated with communist parties. Whole generations were repressed by the media everyday. This control and censorship of the media by the communist party has affected artists involved in and out of the Eastern Bloc ever since.
I would like to start working on a project of taking portraits of creatives (artists, musicians etc) who grew up with the Eastern Bloc, particularly people who grew up in East Germany, before the fall of the Berlin wall. I would like to document the way they grew up, how they got where they are today and the influence that history has shaped their art/careers. In September this year I will be moving to Berlin, Germany on a 1 year working holiday. This gives me the perfect chance to travel around to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and other Eastern Bloc countries to pursue this project. I am going to shoot it all on film using my Hasselblad 500cm, a camera which was made in Europe before the fall of the Berlin wall. When I have finished this venture I would love to create a book and/or exhibition.”
On completion of the ‘Ost Artists’ project, Bridget gave us more of an insight into her project:
“The images have been photographed in such a way that I have focused completely on the individuals face. These portraits leave few distractions from the artist. I wanted to capture the details in their faces and tell their stories with the emotions and personalities that come through the images.
"I think the situation became more and more unbearable for us, because we were young people and we wanted to see the world and we didn't want to live in a cage, we wanted to not live under these powers that be, you could not elect them, they were forever, it was an absolutely unacademic system... So we decided to leave. This was a strange time because if you left East Germany, you could never return."
- Erasmus Schroter, Photographer.
An integral part of this project was the interviews with the individuals. Conducting the interview with the sitter before shooting them became an important meditative process, and then the sitter was able to reflect back on that time whist I photographed them.
These interviews also gave up some valuable insights, beyond what my previous research could have offered. Popular belief, and what I always thought, which was that nobody liked living in the GDR. Some of my interviews have debunked this myth, and revealed other accounts of the way people lived. For a handful of the artists I met, living in the GDR was always a struggle, others lived perfectly happily. I decided that I wanted to look at both sides of this story. In the end my project evolved from purely a visual exploration into a fascinating narrative journey as well.
"I felt advantaged [living n the GDR]... I think the idea [of Socialism] was very good and the ideas are not dead. When I was young i thought maybe it could possibly work for this country, to make a really good socialist alternative to the western world, this is one thing I thought, but it was not possible. It ended in a dictatorship."
- Axel Krause, Painter.