AARON BARCLAY 'ALBEDO I' FULL INTERVIEW
What motivated you to choose the M6 road reserve landscape for your photo assignment and does the result of 'albedo I' achieve what you wanted? If so, how?
I was motivated by a desire to explore and investigate the road reserve and uncover a deeper story about its history and future. I was interested in it as a physical location but also from a sociological perspective I wanted to explore how the treatment of this urban landscape might be able to be extrapolated to our treatment of more significant landscapes around Australia.
The final result achieved much of what I initially set out to do, there is an aspect of documentary that has been achieved, although I feel I have only just scratched the surface.
Why do you feel it's important to portray landscape and local history in art?
I think landscape can reveal a great deal about us as a society. Its treatment is a reflection of our own collective environmental and political attitudes and priorities. The pretty landscapes and untouched wilderness is under threat by the same power structures that would desire to turn hundreds of acres of open green space into a motorway.
The importance to local history is to ask the questions why should we do this? Is this what we want?
Why as an artist did you sign up for the Contact Sheet Mentorship Program and what did you learn from it?
I signed up to Contact Sheet as I had been struggling to develop the project. I had a great deal of photographs taken and had some thoughts and ideas in progress but had not been able to progress past the initial stages myself. Through the mentorship programme I found my voice and was able to develop my ideas to a much higher level than I could have achieved by myself.
What were the highlights/challenges for you during the program and how did you develop as an artist?
My main personal development was to be able to consider myself an artist over a photographer and happily let go of the technical constraints in my work. Finding a happy medium between aesthetics, technique and emotion will be an ongoing journey but I am much happier with the current balance.
What is your favourite shot from the project and why?
My favourite shot is of a thick tuft of grass that has been bent back by flowing water. For me it is a lovely shot that holds a lot of visual interest, but it also symbolises so much about urban environments. It appears to be thick, healthy thriving grass, but it subsists in a narrow patch of green space along the edge of a drain. The drain is dirty and spotted with rubbish. Up close it is appealing, but in the broader surrounding context it would not be considered inviting.
Was there a lecturer or part of the course you enjoyed in particular and if so, why?
I got a lot out of each session. It was fantastic to discuss work with Aletheia Casey but it was one session with Cherie Mc Nair where she viewed my work and asked me some tough questions. Once I found the answers to those questions myself it really helped me develop.
What advice would you give to another emerging artist keen to create using the landscape?
I don’t feel qualified to give out any advice other than give it a try!