Artist Statement



The Rodders Photo Project

The Rodders is a photographic project exploring classic car/hot rod enthusiasts and their cars. Essentially a portrait project, combining cars, this exhibition builds a community of interest, and a body of fine art photographs celebrating Castlemaine’s unique and very significant hot rod culture. Participants are photographed with their cars, capturing that fine balance between the individual and the car, and repositioning car photography in a fine art context with mood, emotion, and subtle references to e.g. renaissance painting through low lighting, etc. This project also includes a sub project The Gods of the Salt exploring events at Speed Week in South Australia, at Lake Gairdner salt lake, exploring an almost mythical nature of the event; participants waiting in the heat, the anxiety associated with speed racing, the ethereal nature and spectacle of the lake itself, and the culture surrounding this event.

The Resurrection of Glass

The project The Resurrection of Glass explores old glass bottles, found when one digs in the area where I live - Castlemaine - often collected by locals and kept as momentoes. This project raises the question - what can be discovered if glass is resurrected, reborn, seen again in a new light? While so many old bottles are see as junk this project explores the shape, the texture, the form and metaphors that can be found when photographing old bottles; bottles with a skin, sculptural, as if organic, with deep veins and markings, visceral, looking like gold nuggets, each a universe in itself, each with character. This project investigates glass that was once shaped, and journeyed through many hands, glass that was damaged and discarded, returned to the soil and resurrected, glass with an indescribable beauty and romance.


Situated in the central Victorian town of Castlemaine where I live, the historic homestead called Buda, held by the Leviny family for 118 years since the days of the Victorian goldrush, is a time-capsule to a family’s life as well as an artistic expression of talented family members including Ernest Leviny, a jeweller and goldsmith, who chose to make Castlemaine his home in the 1850s in order to capitalise on the thriving gold market.

In this his series Buda (the home is named after Budapest where Leviny was born) I have chosen to focus on the textures of this evocative home. Whether it is velvet hanging from a chair, or a simple stuffed bird, I have aimed to capture the colors and patterns of this era. A simple dinner gong takes on a planetary look with its bronzed texture, a velvet torn chair, framed in darkness looks like an Egyptian artifact, the folds of a bed resonate with time - this is a place of births, love, rest, sickness and death. An imperial figure stares out from a glassed chess set, lace and chestnut colors are captured in the glass of a silvered mirror, a button on a velvet covered couch makes its surface look like a navel and skin, the simple arm of a chair looks like a swan at rest.

In Buda I have captured imperfections in glass, patterns on linen, light spilling over furniture, beautiful patterns on a marbled fireplace, as well as the subtle close up of ivory utensils, etc. This project is an evocation of the colors and textures from a bygone era, captured with a film camera, a digital camera, as well as in intense macro. Metaphors resound. Aimed to be exhibited within the house, at next year’s Castlemaine State Festival, Buda explores the subtle textures and tones of this interior, a slightly abstract work not only capturing the age and atmosphere of the venue but also a metaphor of its interior - “is this the dream of a family member, or the first impression of a family member waking early one morning?”


Terraria is a photographic project exploring the magical, abstract and metaphoric world of terrariums - an increasingly popular form of enclosed and small scale eco-system designed for showcasing plants.

Terraria is a film based project using medium format film, macro photography, and type-c processing, in order to create a unique filmic warmth - deep greens and blues, and soft focus. The project has been created using a Hasselblad camera with an extension macro tube. This creates a very narrow field of focus and blows out focus in the foreground and background - adding a sense of mystery to the images.

Terraria is designed to create a sense of personality: plants as lonely, trapped and isolated, glass as being a form that traps or protects, glass as a very vulnerable material - like the earth’s atmosphere - a thin layer between the inside (safe) and the exterior (unsafe).

Terraria explores the soft beauty of light - as life giver, as the spiritual. Subtle attention is given to the interior build up of dew - water as trapped, life giver; presenting itself as abstract patterns on glass due to microscopic insects that live in the terrariums.

Terraria is also about the fragility of life - terrariums as self contained vessels, enduring, magical - like the human body or our planet - yet somewhat mysterious. These vessels are self sustaining with no watering needed. They are independent and endure quietly within rooms - a world apart from traditional house plants.

Thank you to Lulu & Angel.

Boro: The Memory of Hands

Boro is the name given to clothes that were worn by by peasants, merchants or artisans in Japan from Edo (1600) up to the early Showa - early 20th century . Literally translated as ‘rags’ , boro is used to describe clothes and household items such as bed covers which have been patched and repaired time after time after time.

Boro material has become quite trendy and highly collectible within art and craft circles in recent years, its multifarious surface looking like modernist abstract art.

Passed down by families, like a family Bible, and having a deep function such as the use as kimono to protect from the cold in fields, or even as bed cloths used in birthing, or death robes, Boro has a perplexing relationship within Japan. On the one hand it is seen as an incredible resource built from the concept of not wasting -‘mottainai‘, on the other hand it is also indicative of the poverty and hardship endured by peasants in the harsher areas of Japan, such as Tohoku - ‘the snow country’.

Hemp being grown from the land was reworked, re-sewn, mixed with rare cotton - more a privileged material - worn and worn again, making its progression into perhaps clothes, a futon cover and finally its last soaking and braiding as headbands before being finally returned to the soil - an amazing yet necessary process of recycling in a poor and impoverished environment.

The hemp having being grown, harvested, processed, spun, colored, and mixed with cotton scraps, was treasured and at times handed down after funerals. Its reworking into new clothes is the antithesis of modern day consumerism.

This photographic series is an exploration of boro cloth as a metaphor of the Japanese landscape, of journeys and the trails of forgotten people - often poor people - through the vicissitudes of daily life.

Utilizing a Hasselblad film camera, with an extension tube to create very narrow depth of field, the images in the series explore the surface of rare Japanese boro cloth emphasizing the patchwork surface of the material, the ancient evidence of handwork via stitches, as well as the metaphors that can be found within the cotton and the hemp - as if a landscape with mountains is in the background, stitches being ancient samurai, pilgrim or farmers’ trails, stains being the surface of rivers or seas, ruffles like waves or tsunami. Boro: The Memory of Hands is a reflective series that is on one level mysterious and melancholic yet also subtly points to a deep history of the material.

Any exhibition of this series will also include a hung piece of genuine boro, bought from Japan, in order to detail the beauty of the cloth. It is important to recognize that the patched side was often hidden under cloth e.g. hemp. When revealed this hidden side shows many hands having been at work.

My wife is Japanese and I have a strong growing connection to Japan traveling there up to two times each year - including visits to Tokyo’s Amuse Museum which hosts a supreme collection of boro. I have been moved by the beauty of boro and have wanted to capture its surface sensing a deep melancholy that can be found within the sparing use of fabric, and the many stitches that point to many hands and memories.

‘People go to the hills when they die.The mountain paths are steep and difficult to pass, you need a good hemp kimono to shed the sweat. People are buried in the ground or burned to ash when they die, but when the hemp comes from your own field it is easy to return to the soil.’ (An elderly lady explaining to boro collector and ethnologist Chuzaburo Tanaka about sewing her own death robe.)

The Sacred Curve

Having lived in Thornbury, an inner city of Melbourne for a couple of years , prior to moving to Castlemaine, Merri Creek became one of my personal discoveries. The creek became an environment to explore , a place to step out of the busy urban setting that surrounded my home.

When exploring Merri Creek (I walked and cycled ) I slowly began to realise that the area has many personalities. There is the intimacy of the locale near Westgarth which extends into wide open spaces. Go near the Coburg Drive-In and there are beautiful sanctuary-like locations where the mood seems to change - one has a greater sense of birds and peacefulness. Travel elsewhere and urban life suddenly imposes: trucks on bridges, cars, the endless supply of rubbish caught in the creek, weeds that clog and wrap their way around trees, or the occasional release of sewage.

I am interested in the interplay between man and the environment - how a lonely plant survives on the side of a bridge, how plastic plant protectors seem to rise from the ground, how concrete walls take on a strange personality.

The series The Sacred Curve has been taken with a Hasselblad Medium format camera - an old fashioned process that requires a slowing down of my photography and in effect a more meditative approach. In the process of setting up - loading film, setting a light meter, setting focus - I have a greater chance to absorb the feel of the environment and as a result take away images that reveal locations yet also evoke personal memories.

Merri Creek has many interesting facets to explore. I have called this series The Sacred Curve as I feel that there is something spiritual about this region; the way the river quietly or insistently winds its way through suburbia, how the river invites and removes one from urban settings, how the location is a vestige of older Melbourne, Aboriginal Melbourne; a time when the land was given greater voice and focus.

My photographs are also slightly odd at times. I have always had an abstract eye and I rarely take traditional landscapes. I am interested in the ways in which landscape can take on a personality, through metaphor - how something else is revealed in the photograph. A wired rock wall looks like an ancient face, an exposed tree looks like it could walk, there are images of volcanic rock faces, panoramic grasslands, sections in flood, and still pockets redolent in deep Australian summer yellows.

Elegy Japan

Elegy Japan is a photographic study of a pedestrian intersection in central Kobe, Japan, and the wide range of pedestrians that interact in this extraordinary light filled space.

I was first struck by the intense light within this space. It was hitting the intersection directly as well as reflecting off surrounding buildings which created hotspots like camera flashes.

Standing at a set distance, with a zoom lens, I captured people in all their variety. We see people waiting, in quiet repose, listening to music, interacting with friends, consulting maps, a lady sweeping a sidewalk, people looking at watches, and at times, caught within the split second of the image looking mysterious as if caught up in another world. Who is this man? What is he thinking? Where is he going? Where has he come from?

Utilising the intense light I have tried to present a wide variety of people, all with differing stories, all intersecting at a particular point in time and space. Variety reveals itself the longer one interacts with a culture.

This project is also a tribute to the people of Japan. Only within days of completing this photo-shoot I had attended a museum detailing the tragedy of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake which devastated much of Kobe and killed over 5000 people. The light within this intersection is a direct result of this tragedy - the ultra modern buildings built in response to the damage in 1995. The work is also a tribute to the endurance of Japanese people - only a few months prior to the first exhibition of this work, and my focusing on the DVD, the Tohoku earthquake struck Japan.

Available as a print series this work is also able to be exhibited in the form of a DVD installation, including a soundtrack authorised with the kind permission of the UK artist Carolyn Hume.

The viewer sees pedestrians as they move through this space - detailing the fashion, style and manner of the contemporary Japanese. The installation explores feelings of fear, mourning, anticipation and resurrection - all manner of moods that present themselves within the context of the captured image and the evocative soundtrack.

Written by The Sea

Written by the Sea explores the extraordinary abstractions that can be discovered on the surface of boats.

I am not quite sure where I first across this theme but it was probably in New Zealand, near Auckland, when I first came upon a boatyard in a quiet estuary. I was able to walk around the yard, reflect upon what I saw, and was astonished by the unusual and emerging patterns.

As boats were being repaired unusual patterns revealed themselves; this on the surface of sanded wood, cut back fiberglass, or simply in patterns created through repairs. Being a big fan of the photographers Minor White and Aaron Siskind I was aware that abstract photography can create a new and powerful impression through metaphor. I was also aware of how these photographs can take on a spirit of their own. In the words of Minor White: ‘No matter how slow the film Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen.’

This ongoing project is my nod to photographers such as Minor White and Aaron Siskind as well as my exploration of the concept of abstraction - how abstract patterns can be discovered and framed within an artistic perspective.

My journey through this project has seen me visit boatyards in Auckland, Melbourne and Geelong; a process of working through the nature of abstraction, exploring the way in which new images and meanings can be found within existing patterns.

This journey has been moving - taking me away from the pressure of naturalistic or realistic photography - and on a journey that has made me love even more the works of artists such as Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler. Show me a great abstract painting and I am moved. I love color fields, the way images can almost be distilled into pure resonating patterns. These works are very rich and have a life very distinct from naturalistic works.

All the works in this series are true examples of what I have discovered on the sides of boats. They are slightly tweaked through photoshop in order to print correctly and are not overdone - I am not a big fan of the over-use of photoshop.

Written by the Sea explores patterns that in a sense have been written on the side of boats by the sea - directly by salt and water - or more abstractly by docks and the hands of repairmen. I hope that these patterns take the viewer elsewhere - into the imagination and into a world of poetics and metaphor.

Video of a Written By the Sea exhibition at the Mission to Seafarers Dome Gallery in Melbourne, Australia:

The Travellers

The Travellers is a series exploring light, in particular its abstractions as it passes through glass. Utilising a framework that supports glass sheets, a light, filters, and all manner of glass ranging from old ash trays to vases, I use a macro lens to focus on patterns created by the interaction of light. The prismatic effects are extraordinary. The narrow depth of field allows patterns to be further discovered within the glass.

Based on the experiments of photographers such as Wynn Bullock - his much under-recognised light abstraction work from 1959 to 1965 utilising similar experimentation - this project uses a digital camera to create fascinating landscapes. These landscapes in their variety of forms, at times volcanic, primordial, celestial, or atomic, are a metaphor for the ancient and current travellers - perhaps the subatomic world - that shape and have shaped our world.

Apart from slightly adjusting the blowing out of light caused by the delicate uneveneness of light within the macro image none of these images are highly photoshopped. What is captured is pretty much true to what is seen through the lens - an extraordinary world at play within light and color fields.

I have a heard the story that the experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage once changed a film about the interior of a house to a pure focus of patterns that he found in ashtrays lying on a table. Fantastic! See the film The Text of Light. This is an interesting tradition embracing the likes of Brakhage, Bullock , Len Lye and the Cantrills.

At the discussion session after the premiere of his film The Text of Light at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh in 1974, he (Brakhage) paraphrased the later English 'Light Philosopher' Robert Grosseteste: 'all that sense can comprehend, is Light: because it partakes of that which it is. To comprehend dark, or a shape, it must withdraw from its own nature – it must withdraw or turn against its own electrical illuminating nature in order to comprehend a shape'.

Courtesy Cantrill’s Filmnotes, 21/22, (April 1975) photography.

The Carriers

A relatively new project The Carriers explores the plant as a vessel. Whether it is seed pods, or gourds that can be re-appropriated by humans to carry water, there is an extraordinary range of structures that allow seeds to spread. These so-called vessels come in so many shapes and sizes allowing germination by factors such as water, wind, gravity or the carrying by animals. The Carriers explores the subtlety of these vessels: their robustness, shape, delicacy and overall the incredible beauty offered by nature.


While one can nowadays point a phone camera at a scene, pan and stitch the images together into a panorama, this project utilizes a Fotoman 624 film camera which takes a 24 x 6 cm negative by allowing four frames of medium format film to be exposed in one shot. As an ongoing project I am interested in the concept of the panoramic image, how it can be read like a text or a scroll from left to right, how scenes are punctuated, as if scenes within scenes, like a collage or a strip of film. Inspired by the interesting panoramics of Josef Koudelka in his brilliant and unconventional book Chaos I am also interested in moving away from the traditional panoramic image - the all in focus calendar or camera club shot. How can an image be read? What if one changes the depth of field? What abstract qualities can one bring to a panoramic image?

A Stark Beauty

A Stark Beauty references the words spoken by Neil Armstrong when he first set foot on the moon in 1969: “It has a stark beauty all its own. It’s like much of the high desert of the United States. It’s different, but it’s very pretty out here.”

Captured on the northern volcanic beaches of Auckland where I spent a year living in 2007, A Stark Beauty is my exploration of these extraordinary beaches, not from a traditional panoramic perspective but rather from the viewpoint of the beaches being seen as moonlike and alien spaces - very different to the sandy beaches of Australia. I love the patterns caused by wind, waves, channels as well as footprints in what is a subtle and beautiful variety of sand. I am interested in closing off the horizon, focusing on the surreal intensity of these beach-scapes, seeing them as if through the eyes of an astronaut seeing every rock, footprint and shape with an extraordinary intensity:

Collins: Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Aldrin: You do have to be rather careful to keep track of where your center of mass is. Sometimes it takes about two or three paces to make sure that you’ve got your feet underneath you.

The Book Physical

In The Book Physical I explore the book as a physical item, an entity with its own texture and shape. Partly a celebration of the physicality of the book in an age where texts are increasingly becoming electronic and abstracted, this project investigates the book from a sensuous perspective; objects that can be touched, that tear, where pages are indented by letterpress or written annotations, where binding has a form, a leathery animalistic quality, where pages have a sharpness and a delicacy, where metaphor can be found: pages like mountains, wings or valleys that draw one in. This project utilizes macro photography to explore the subtle texture of books, and in particular, through an incredible narrow depth of field to find new meanings and poetics to the content and sensuousness of books.

The Relics of Sport

The Relics of Sport is an investigation into the shape and surface of sporting objects. Photographed as if ancient relics, or museum pieces, this project is a journey through the surface and meaning of sporting objects de-contextualised from use, retired, ravaged by the effects of use and time. Sport is so often separated from art. This is a linking of art and sport by discovering the beautiful surfaces in sporting goods. A beauty that makes one step back and view such objects in a new light.

Long White Clouds

Long White Clouds is a collection of photographs made in New Zealand on a number of visits as well as a year spent living in Auckland. Moving away from traditional photographic views of New Zealand this is an exploration of varying textures found in New Zealand: the side of an old shearing shed, looking out of a window at a car museum, the side of a shaded elephant at the Auckland Zoo. I am always interested in the abstractions that can be found in photography and how these can de-contextualise an image and intensify our sense of that object, making us look closer at its surface to find new understandings and meanings. Of course this is a large body of work crossing all manner of locations in New Zealand.


I have taken many portrait in recent years, some with a medium format Hasselblad camera - which of course takes on a meditative and controlled manner, and others with a digital camera. One exhibited series called Simply Her Friends captured many of my late mother's friends, portraits accompanied with stories of that persons relationship to my mother. In recent times I have been taking portraits of people that I have met in Castlemaine including neighbors, the writer/philosopher Raimond Gaita, critic and actor John Flaus, as well as the experimental filmmakers Arthur and Corrine Cantrill. Portraits are a difficult area to grasp - like the search for a truthful perspective of a person, beyond the mask.I enjoy this challenge. It requires time, building a relationship, and not getting distracted by the technical necessities of the photographic process.

Milltown Chronicle

In Milltown Chronicle I have photographed model installations, in minute detail, to create new meanings. By doing this , by removing models from a fuller background , I have been able to establish a connection between models, pointing to a potential story. The use of a macro lens to intensify a small section, removing clear focus from the foreground and background, allows the viewer to impose a narrative onto the scene. Who is this woman? Where is she going? Why is this car waiting? Why is he digging? Are these people arguing?

Each scene asks us questions. We are all familiar with the sinister motivations in crime stories. By intensifying focus within model railway club scenery - scenes that are often small town and homely - I can impose a more questionable and sinister narrative. The viewer is allowed to surmise. Add mysterious titles and one can start to build a sense of what is happening in this small town: ‘He asked gently’, ‘Quietly at’; ‘There’s only so far you can go’, ‘The confrontation’, ‘To wait accordingly’.

Thank you to North Shore Model Railway Club, Auckland City.

Milltown Chronicle (1)

She leaves quietly
and he waits. a train shunts

and Mary

having tended to the cows

while the bargeman dreams of blanketed nights.

Darron Davies


This is my tribute to the Wimmera region in north west Victoria where I lived for a few years. Traditionally a dry flat wheat growing region, whose vista is broken by the 60kms long Grampian mountain range, I have chosen to represent my view of the region not by traditional landscape photographs but rather by images that capture the uniqueness of the region: ancient river gums on the banks of the Wimmera river, a lone corrugated iron hall on a flat back road, a fern deep in a national park collapsing in on itself, a quiet railway platform, a weathered fence post, a simple nob of butter on the plane of a dinner table, a bookshelf whose books, and the items that adorn it , speaking of its rural owner.

This project explores the quiet back spaces of this region, images that resonate with the colors of the landscape - a hard, worn and flat location speaking of time.

Wimmera (1)

a lone station
peering into a past
where weeds take hold
and in the dust thrown up by passing cars
the cockies fly

he sees past the corner of the hall
flat roads and climbing skies
a fencepost
a weed
collapsed in on themselves

and the river
pushing bracken into posts
exposing tree trunks.

I hear distant freight trains
and another flock of cockatoos
in the river gums.

Darron Davies

The Diggings

Having moved to the region of Castlemaine in early 2013 Diggings is my first photographic investigation of the region; one that has seen me visiting areas just outside of Castlemaine - old diggings where nature has returned, a landscape that hints at the once intense presence of thousands of miners.

This area is rich in history, so much of the landscape carrying a tension - is this hill natural or is it a mullock heaped placed by miners?

I am enjoying this exploration, how a tree near to a rock wall is like a piece of Europe (references to the first European settlers), multi-colored banks next to a railway line pointing to the uniqueness of the soil, the deep reds and blacks of box iron forests, old advertising on the wall of a building, two donkeys in a paddock, a tree surrounding an old pipe, late afternoon sun striking a tree making it look as if it is in flame.

Obviously an ongoing project this is my interpretation of Castlemaine, one in which I am interacting with the landscape, enjoying its puzzles, learning its history.


Landscapes is one of those categories that could fit into other themes, yet also hangs there - who can resist simply taking an image of a landscape which captures the eye.

Having taken many landscapes over the years this series is at its best when I consider the landscape as something beyond a simple view: is this a dream, a vision?

I have alway been interested in the notion of a landscape having an intense meaning, pointing back to the viewer, carrying an intensity, a sense of presence. Who is looking out from this doorway onto this scene? What is he or she thinking? This tree (a Finalist in the 2012 Blake Art Prize) is cave-like. Is it natural or man-made? What is beyond? It is as if one could step into another world. A small tree, captured and intensified with a narrow depth of field, announces its arrival.

I love the intensity, the mystery, the otherness that can come from landscapes. The best photos speak of themselves, yet on closer and more sustained viewing, speak of a world beyond, a world of metaphor, an ancient world far beyond the footsteps of man.

The Thin Veil of Memory

The Thin Veil of Memory is an exploration of my wife’s wedding veil. Recognising that the veil has an extraordinary range of cultural and religious meanings, this project is an investigation of the photographic meanings that one can identify within this subtle and beautiful cloth.

The veil is like a wave, a flowing dress, a jellyfish, a delicate curving flower, or a rising apparition. Utilising the projection of family images onto the veil this series extends into an exploration of family memory - what is revealed behind the veil as one discovers another person and their family history? This project is also sadly punctuated by the sad loss of three parents in recent years.

A veil can be used in weddings, in funerals, as a shroud. It is light , fragile and flowing, like life, like water, like light.

Dreaming a Garden (1)

I came to the garden
I rested
I dwelt within the silence
The soft moss
The sweet flowing scents.

I came to the garden
and dreamt
of friends and loved ones passed
of a time when the garden was its own world:
gathering insects
a world within a world
within a world.

I came to the garden
and caught my breath
heard the sound of distant birds
of insects hovering
beyond and in spite of all that I felt.

I came to the garden
and shared
looking through the reflection
the glasshouse window
into the void cut into the pond
I came to the garden.

Darron Davies

Dreaming a Garden

I dream of moss,
lichen and the cool world inside each flower
swimming in yellow and a deep red that soothes.
A lone daisy is spied through tall grasses
and the cluster amaryllis
rising in the shade of a clearing.
Here the traveller stops, a silent pilgrim,
seated on a log
dreaming of a garden
and its moss.

Darron Davies

Dreaming a Garden is my collection of garden imagery that was taken in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. First exhibited only a few months after my mother's death, the series explores the garden from a romantic perspective - as a space for rest and reflection, as a space where textures, colors, smells and sounds are reminiscent of an internal journey as much as a journey into the past - days played in a suburban garden as a child. The series includes the rich color fields of flowers from a macro viewpoint, an abstracted garden through glasshouse walls, a lone daisy in my mother’s garden, a mysterious cut in the surface of pond and a rest-stop in the countryside of Japan, an ancient place used by pilgrims. Dreaming a Garden is an exploration of gardens from a nuanced perspective - as a space where internal and external worlds come together.