Friday night was the opening of the “Faces of West Arthur” photography exhibition, at the West Arthur CRC in Darkan. It was the culmination of months of work by six local photography enthusiasts whom I had been mentoring over the previous four months. The project was made possible by the Creative Grid, funded through Country Arts WA and Sate and Federal Government funding. We received sponsorship from Fitzgerald Photo Imaging in Perth, where the photos were printed.
It is not the location, but the people, that make a country town what it is. For a small country community, the Shire of West Arthur has always been an inclusive and supportive place. As one of the subjects said, “People are always happy to help each other”.
Well getting the photos hung for the exhibition couldn’t have been done without a lot of help. It was the first time that the new hanging system installed in the Health and Resource centre had been used – it was installed only the week before. There was some trial and error getting the hanging hooks and cords in place, and then the dilemma of how to get he photos to sit straight as they were so light and the cords were still coiled after being removed from their packaging.
The brief the photographers were given for the photographs was that they should show the full face or head and shoulders straight on, and the subject should be looking straight into the lens. There was to be a sense of connection with the sitter. The photos are quite similar to passport photos in their format. What I was hoping to achieve was that the viewer would be drawn to the eyes of the subject, and that they would feel a sense of engagement through the photograph. As each photograph is similar in its composition, then the only difference is the physical difference between the subjects. The idea for choosing portraits for our project came about because we decided to combine it with the biennial West Arthur Cultural Day with the theme of “We all Belong”.
Fitzgerald Photo Imaging in Perth were very supportive of our community project, providing advice on printing and mounting, and giving us a discount on the cost of the printing. We ended up being able to print twelve large photos, which are 14” x 20” (35cm x 50cm) matted and mounted on foamcore board, and fifty four smaller photos which are 7” x 10” (17.5cm x 25cm) matted to 11” x 14”.
The hanging space for the exhibition is brand new and is the new wing of the extended West Arthur Health and Resource Centre in Burrowes Street in Darkan. The official opening of the extensions will be held on Saturday 15 September, which is the last day of our exhibition. The wide lobby and hallway spaces with bright even lighting show the photos well, and the adjoining meeting room gave space for serving wine and cheese at the opening event.
Although the exhibition will only be hung for eight days, it is quite likely that it will be shown again at a later date. We are talking about taking it to other regional areas too, if we can get funding for that.