Journey North back in time to the world of 1980s QLD

FLEATING moments, the ones that pass by in a blink of an eye, are always a treasure to behold when they are captured through a camera lens.

Photographic art was still in its infancy during the 1980's so when the Queensland Art Gallery took a risk in commissioning six photographers to document the everyday life of Queensland, exhibited to mark the Australian Bicentennial, they were apprehensive about the outcome.

"The gallery would check up on us every very months to check how the collection was coming along, it took two to three years in total to produce the portfolio," Photographer Lin Martin said.

When Lin was initially contacted by the Queensland Art Gallery they were already referring to the portfolio as 'Journey's North,' and Lin took this title quite literally.

"I was inspired by the title to journey north myself and travelled to my home town of Innisfail and took environmental portraits of people living their life at that time," she said.

The exhibition was originally displayed in January 1988 and is currently being re-examined until July 3 at the Queensland Art Gallery.

The Galley's hope is to highlight how Queensland has changed in the intervening 28 years since the commission.

"The show that's up now is a small collection of the original exhibition," Lin said.

"It was strange to see them again because I hadn't actually looked at the photographs for about 30 years.

"Obviously Queensland has changed hugely, we were just coming out of the Joh Bjelke Petersen era, when Brisbane was transitioning from a sleepy town into a thriving city.

"People are a lot more confident and sure of themselves now and that's much to do with being more connected to the world around them."

Overall these images present a coherent record of both the natural and social features of the state during this period.

As a result many of these images question attitudes which have long been an accepted part of Australian community life, while others reaffirm the unique difference and richness of the Australian lifestyle, land and environment.

"Seeing the work again was interesting, you know, about half of these I would happily stick up today, it shows how they've withstood the test of time," Lin said.

"My favourite one if of a guy and he's in Mossman and he's built his house which looks like a castle and he has his cat right beside him.

"He was such a curious person to interview and it just so happened that the cat was there."

The project was particularly supportive of Queensland photography as all of the photographers involved had been long term residents of Queensland or had strong associations with the state. 

The photographers involved - Graham Burstow, Lin Martin, Robert Mercer, Glen O'Malley, Charles Page and Max Pam - each travelled to different regions of Queensland where, over a period of about eighteen months, they documented through their work, the lifestyles, attitudes and values of Queensland society in the late 1980s.

"Big thank you to the Queensland Art Gallery for taking a risk at the time," Lin said.

View works from the 'Journeys North' portfolio






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