At the end of each year photobook commentators and critics from across the globe gather to present the BEST BOOKS of that year. Their information resource is the books that they have encountered over the preceding 12 months. For the reasons of geography these lists are generally representative of the American, European and more recently the Japanese photobook scenes.
The photobook makers of New Zealand and Australia (the Antipodes) have limited opportunity to penetrate the northern hemisphere recognition space. Hence this first list of THE BEST ANTIPODEAN PHOTOBOOKS for 2019 has been prepared.
Please take a look – read the commentaries and visit the links to the larger stories of these books and the photographers, designers and publishers who made them.
And, as one of our nominators Mary Macpherson states, ‘Best Books lists should be seen as the opinion of individuals, based on what they’ve seen and prefer, rather than final verdicts on worth’.
THE 2019 BEST ANTIPODEAN PHOTOBOOKS
Compiled by DOUG Spowart & VICTORIA Cooper for The Antipodean Photobook
BOOKS BY: Alice Connew, Ana Paula Estrada, Anna Maria Antoinette D’Addario, Brad Rimmer, Darren Sylvester, David Wadelton, Jane Wilcox, Lou Gilbert, Louis Lim & Beth Jackson, Maria Colaidis, Martine Perret, Mick Porter, Paul Blackmore, Paul Knight, Saynab Muse, and Felix Wilson.
Still Looking Good
Featuring text adapted from Things That Move Me (2017) by Oliver Connew
Author & Designer: Alice Connew
Description: 10.5×14.8cm upright, 88 pages, hard cover, 38 colour photographs
Printed in Lithuania
Standard Edition: 300 signed and numbered
Special Edition: 30 signed and numbered with signed and numbered inkjet print #37
NOMINATED BY VICTORIA COOPER
Have you ever had that kind of dream where you lost in the world with endlessly expanding spaces of desolation and destruction? You move amongst people not interested in helping you or what you are trying to tell them. I am a child from the era of the threat of nuclear war. Many of my childhood dreams were filled with an overwhelming desperation where I dream of trying to run or scream and I am frozen and silent unable to do either. This small book for me is about the reality of these dreams… a present where there is a kind of madness in and anxiety of the inability to stop and listen and reflect on what it means to be human.
Book Links: www.aliceconnew.com/still-looking-good
I was there I & II
Author & Designer: Ana Paula Estrada
Description: A5 plus 4pp soft cover, digital Indigo press print on coated and uncoated stock. Features single stitch binding (book I) and French-folded perfect binding (book II)
NOMINATED BY DOUG SPOWART
From the moment I picked up and began to ‘read’ this book duo I was immersed in the story that was being presented to me. By turning the pages I became witness to the intimate stories of two elderly people told through photographs, words and their progressive poetic intermingling. Emotive typography linked text fragments across pages and cut-outs in the pages allowed texts to re-appear with emphasised meaning.
For me reading these books was an emotional experience – I was there …
BOOK LINK: www.anapaulaestrada.com/i-was-there/
Deep In Their Roots, All Flowers Keep The Light
Author: Anna Maria Antoinette D’Addario
Design: Anna Maria Antoinette D’Addario and Eva-Maria Kunz
Description: 23.3×16×1cm, 78 pages, softcover, cotton wove and GSK paper, inserted booklet 8 pages, binding – sewn paperback with canvas finishing
Printed by: Grafiche dell’Artiere, Italy
Published: ceiba editions
NOMINATED BY LIBBY JEFFERY
I had the good fortune of seeing the extensive consideration and experimentation that went into this book, encompassing a Masters of Fine Arts, multiple dummies, and an artist proof that won the prestigious international photobook competition Photoboox – resulting in the work being published by renowned Ceiba Editions. Despite its tragic inspiration, this is a beautifully resolved photo book, that reclaims and celebrates the memory of Anna’s older sister Daniela, and their childhood. You’ll find it hard not to be moved by this book.
Book Links: Signed and unsigned versions
Special limited edition, signed with fibre based, archival pigment print
An interview: https://www.ceibaeditions.com/deep-in-their-roots-all-flowers-keep-the-light/
Author – photographs and text: Brad Rimmer
Designer: Gianni Frinzi
Book description: 24.7x 33.6×1.6cm, 96 pages printed offset on Fedrigoni Papers, hard cover Duotone varnish with debossing and foil stamping on cover and spine
Signed Edition: 200
Publisher: T&G Publishing
NOMINATED BY DOUG SPOWART
Brad Rimmer’s Nature Boy draws us into the relentlessness of rural life and conditions in the western Australian wheatbelt. His autobiographical narratives intermingle with contemporary portraits of young adults who present with a disconnected gaze. As we turn the page, Rimmer’s landscape is depicted as an unforgiving land of wide fields, vernacular architecture, stunted mallee and burning wheat stubble. In this book he laments the lack of intergenerational change in rural life and how in revisiting this space he sees that his memories as a teenager growing to manhood live on in the youth he photographed today. Nothing has changed…
Book link: https://www.tgpublishing.com.au/
A review: americansuburbx.com/2020
Carve a future, devour everything, become something
Author: Darren Sylvester
Design: Dirk Hiscock
Publisher: National Gallery of Victoria
Specifications: 26×29.5cm portrait, 304 pages, colour illustrations, 1 sound disc and clear plastic & foil click-seal enclosure.
NOMINATED BY HELEN FRAJMAN
While not strictly a photobook, in so far as it is a catalogue for Darren Sylvester’s exhibition at the NGV which included works in media other than photography, this über- lavish book is a magnificent compendium of the work of one of Australia’s most exciting photographic artists. Great written pieces too.
The NGV Bookshop
Author: David Wadelton
Essay: Patrick Pound
Designer: Yanni Florence
Specifications: 35 x 35cm, 210 pages, colour illustrations, hard cover, all edges gilt and black ribbon bookmark
NOMINATED BY ALISON STIEVEN-TAYLOR
The design of the book with its sumptuous gold trim and rich colour palette evokes a sense of opulence and nostalgia. My home is my castle; this is the central theme to Wadelton’s book about homes in Melbourne that were settled by post-war immigrants. These images are emblematic of a longing for what was left behind in the old country, and a nod to the future.
Book Link: https://m33.net.au/suburban-baroque/
A Review: www.theage.com.au/
Author: Felix Wilson
Design: Felix Wilson and Erin Callaghan
Editors: Dan Rule, Justine Ellis
Copy Editing: Nadiah Abdulrahim
Design: Erin Callaghan and Felix Wilson
Perimeter Editions #40
Specifications: 25cm portrait, 72 unnumbered pages, illustrations
NOMINATED BY HELEN FRAJMAN
Beautifully presented, somewhat mysterious collection of atmosphere suffused images of apparently random natural and manmade things – provoking questions about the impact of our dependence on coal for illuminating our lives. A great example of a very fine small book made on a modest budget.
Book Link: shop.perimeterbooks.com/products/pre-order-felix-wilson-nocturnal-ecologies
Between Perfection and Beauty
Author: Jane Wilcox
Design by: Lucy Aitchison, Harry Culy and Jane Wilcox
Publisher: Bad News Books
Specifications: 35 x 23cm, 72 pages, hard cover with screen-printed blue linen, printed and hand-bound in Wellington, New Zealand
Edition: 25, signed by the artist
NOMINATED BY DAVID COOK
Inside this inviting cover is an uncluttered space to reflect on the awkward and beautiful transition between childhood and adulthood, seen in that in-between space of the waiting room, moments before the big performance. These portraits shift their gaze from right to left as you flick through the book – a playful structural device.
Book Link: www.badnewsbooks.com/new-books/between-perfection-amp-beauty-jane-wilcox
A Review: www.photoforum-nz.org/blog/2019/3/5/between-pefection-and-beauty-reviewed
Author’s Instagram: jwilcoxpics
Self-published: Lou Gilbert
Designer: Lou Gilbert
Specifications: Concertina format, 21×27.5cm, 10 pages, printed on Epson Archival Matte paper by Live Image.
Constructed by the artist
NOMINATED BY DAVID SYMONS
I liked how Lou Gilbert’s concertina book cleverly juxtaposed the landscape and the humans that inhabit the Brisbane inner city suburb of Fortitude Valley. Almost like photographs of ‘dogs that look like their humans’, Lou finds common visual threads linking the distinctness of individuals of ‘The Valley’ to the distinct patterns of the Valley’s distinct inner city architecture
…there is no end
Authors: Louis Lim & Beth Jackson with paintings by Michael Foley
Design: Louis Lim in conjunction with a Reminders Photography Stronghold Photobook Masterclass with Yumi Goto, Sandra van der Doelen and Teun van der Heijden
Description: 20.5cm x 25.5cm x 2.5cm, 244 pages, codex, hard cover with combination of hand-bound kettle stitched and concertina format.
Edition: Handmade artist edition of 51 copies. (Edition number is based on the number of months of a subject’s confinement.)
Published: Reminders Photography Stronghold
NOMINATED BY HELEN COLE
Themes of grief and loss through death and imprisonment are investigated in words, photographs and watercolours by three contributors. Two stories sitting side by side are at the same time interwoven in a joined double format book, one codex, one concertina. The book is digitally printed on four types of paper and is in an edition of 51, the number of months of the subject’s imprisonment.
Book Link: reminders-project.org/rps/thereisnoend_saleen/
An interview: TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD
A Video of the Book: vimeo.com/347467134
Author & Designer: Maria Colaidis
Description: A5, 24 pages, digital press, sewn spine, signed and numbered.
NOMINATED BY VICTORIA COOPER
This little handmade book reaches into the dark corners of my mind. I am presented with a collection of mostly unrelated and dark fragments separated from their corporeality. Then, as I ‘read’, they psychologically coalesce and draw me into a reverie of my own constructed narratives.
Book Link: https://mariacolaidis.bigcartel.com/product/fragments-i
Maria Colaidis’ instagram www.instagram.com/mariacolaidis
Ngala Wongga: Cultural Significance of Languages in the Goldfields
Author: Martine Perret
Designer: Rachel Tay
Description: 22x32cm (landscape), 80 pages section sewn, case bound cover with square back with gold foil on soft-touch cover and spine
Printer: Scott Print – Perth
Edition: First – 550 copies
NOMINATED BY ALSON STIEVEN-TAYLOR
Ethereal aerial landscapes of the goldfields of Western Australia are paired with portraits of Indigenous Australians and their individual stories that bring to the fore the relationship between the land, language and identity. Perret’s black and white portraits in particular are luminous and create an intriguing visual pairing with the colours of the Australian landscape.
Book Link: https://martineperret.photoshelter.com/index/G0000ezz_nSGndNE
Online version of the book: https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-695107529/view?searchTerm=%27martine+perret%27#search/’martine%20perret‘
In the shadow of the leaves
Author + Designer: Mick Porter
Published: Self-published through BLURB
Specifications: 33x28cm, 77 pages, hard-cover,
Edition: Open via BLURB print on demand
Edition variant: Inkjet print on washi paper with cloth covered cover.
NOMINATED BY DAVID SYMONS
In the shadow of the leaves is a photographic meditation based on the Samurai book ‘Hagakure’ (In the shadow of the leaves). The images in the book subtly and exquisitely reflect themes in ‘Hagakure’ in the context of contemporary Japan. Mick’s mastery of aligning place, context and time is at times striking, befitting and complementary to the ideas of the ‘Hagakure’.
Book Link: In the Shadow of the Leaves by Mick Porter | Blurb Books
Author: Paul Blackmore
Designer: Belinda Rabe and Alphabet Studios
Essays: Courtney Wise and Alison Stieven-Taylor
Specification: 33m x 28cm, 166 pages, 76 Colour plates on Japanese Lumi Silk Art paper
Printer: Spitting Image
NOMINATED BY ALISON STIEVEN-TAYLOR
This large coffee-table book is exquisite with superb photography, a clean, contemporary design, and crisp, white stock. The reproduction of the photographs gives a depth and richness to the images. Paul Blackmore is a skilled, and thoughtful storyteller and the narrative flow of this book echoes the cadence of beach life and the Australian seaside in summer. (Caveat: I wrote the essay for the book!).
NOMINATED BY MICHAEL COYNE
The only book that I have come across and bought, is the beautiful publication by Paul Blackmore titled Heat. I understand that it was self-published. Paul paid for everything including, the shooting, design, printing etc.
The images are powerful, engaging and well constructed. The printing is excellent and the design emphasises the strength of the images.
Book Link: www.paulblackmore.com/products-inventory/heat
jump into bed with me
Author: Paul Knight
Design : Roland Brauchli
Copy Editor: Emma Capps
Colour Reproductions: Flavio Milani.
Specifications: 31cm, 88 unnumbered pages, Tri-fold (W format) staple bound booklet
Printer: Printed by Pöge Druck, Germany
Publisher: Perimeter Editions # 047
Edition: 350 + Artist Edition of 50
NOMINATED BY HELEN FRAJMAN
Brilliant documentation of a long term relationship from a ‘camera’s point of view’. Intimate, romantic and thought-provoking despite the banal nature of many of the images. Splendid concept and design.
Book Link: Perimeter Books – Jump into bed with me by Paul Knight
Author: Saynab Muse
Designer: Saynab Muse
Description: 25.4 x20.3 x 0.6cm, 68 pages, digital press, softcover perfect bound
Published by Saynab Muse and PhotoForum
Printer: The Print Guys
Edition of 160
NOMINATED BY MARY MACPHERSON
‘Imaanshaha’, which means ‘arrival’, gives perspective about what it might be like to be a migrant in Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s an intimate portrait of Saynab Muse’s Somali family in Mt Roskill where they share close cultural connections with the local Muslim and Somali community. Through staged portraits, which make strong use of patterned fabrics and colour against prosaic Kiwi backgrounds, we’re taken into a world of another culture on its own terms. The portraits highlight the strength of Muslim women and also through images with barriers and concealment, talk about the potent issue of safety for the Muslim community. An opportunity to see another world in Aotearoa.
Book Link: www.photoforum-nz.org/photoforum-publications/imaanshaha
Interview with the author: www.photoforum-nz.org/blog/2019/10/16/saynab-muse-interview
Book launch and exhibition: Photoforum-nz.org/imaanshaha-book-launch-and-exhibition
ABOUT THESE BEST PHOTOBOOK NOMINATIONS
In late 2019 we contacted around 25 key contributors to the photobook discipline in New Zealand and Australia for their Best Book nominations. Later, an open call was put out to gather other nominations. The response culminates with this Blog post. We thank the supporters of this initiative and look forward to, at the end of this year – calling on nominations for the Best Books of 2020.
Or 2019 nominators are:
Who/what I do: Alison Stieven-Taylor is a international journalist and commentator with a special interest in social documentary photography.
She writes for many magazines and online sites and is the publisher of the Blog Photojournalism Now.
Who/what I do: Helen Cole is a Librarian/ artists’ book and photobook commentator
Who/what I do: David Cook is a documentary photographer and Massey University lecturer, based in Wellington, New Zealand.
Who/what I do: Self-publisher of zines and photobooks. He states, I photograph because… what Garry Winogrand said…’
Who/what I do: Helen Frajman is the Publisher at M.33
Who/what I do: Coordinator of the Australia & New Zealand Photobook of the Year Award, and Momento Pro Marketing Manager
Who/what I do: Mary Macpherson is a Wellington photographer and poet. She is PhotoForum reviews editor and a member of the Photobook NZ committee. She believes that Best Books lists should be seen as the opinion of individuals, based on what they’ve seen and prefer, rather than final verdicts on worth.
Who/what I do: Michael Coyne has published over 9 books and is an internationally recognised documentary photographer.
Who/what I do: Dr Victoria Cooper makes artists’ books and photobooks
Who/what I do: Dr Doug Spowart is a photobook maker, researcher and producer
UNTIL NEXT YEAR ……
6 Comments Add yours
How inspiring to see everyone’s books. I’m a bit chuffed to be included.
Each book presented something different about how people make photobooks – Great to see your worked nominated Lou…!
What about Wayne Miles Gang book for 2019 ?
Kind regards, Graham Monro Photographic Director ………………………………………………………………………………………
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Hi Graham Wayne’s book was published in 2016 … BTW can you PM me Wayne’s Email and phone….
fantastic well done
Thanks Mike — There are GREAT books out there that need to be shared…! Cheers Doug