BEST ANTIPODEAN PHOTOBOOKS 2020

LAUNCHED AT THE MELBOURNE ART BOOK FAIR 27 MARCH 2021
BEST Antipodean Photobooks 2020 LOGO

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Compiled by DOUG Spowart & VICTORIA Cooper

 

This list represents a selection of books published in Australia and New Zealand in the year of the Pandemic 2020. Though many aspects of the publishing world were significantly disrupted causing several books to be held over to 2021 some intrepid and active photobook authors and publishers still came through with a variety of photobooks.

While the worldwide end of year crop of Best Photobook lists are usually replete with American/Euro/Japan centric publishers, this list is shamelessly biased towards Australian and New Zealand books. It presents the variety of book products from personal limited edition self-published projects to large volume trade books.

Many commentators and critics question the status of the best photobook lists highlighting the potential for bias through gatekeeping and the continued support of popular favourite authors. To offer a different perspective, this compilation does not attempt to present a definitive selection of the ‘Best’ photobooks published but rather a list that spotlights selected books nominated by a variety of respected participants and stake holders within the local photobook discipline.

It is intended that this list will present to an international audience a selection of photobooks from Australia and New Zealand and give an opportunity for these books and the stories they contain to have wider recognition in the larger world of photobooks.

 

THIS LIST INCLUDES BOOKS BY: Suzanne Phoenix, Tim Page, Julia Booth, Blanche Violet Maher, Peter Milne, Diane Stoppard, Allan McDonald, Jane Ussher, Andrew Chapman, Jaime Murcia, Noel Butcher, Melanie Faith Dove, Erin Jonasson, Harvey Benge, Alex Frayne, Nicholas Walton-Healey, Jon Carapiet, Haruhiko Sameshima and Stu Sontier.

 

ANDREW CHAPMAN et al – The Mallee: A journey through north-west Victoria, Ten Bag Press

BOOK TITLE: The Mallee: A journey through north-west Victoria

Co-authors: Adam McNicol (writer), Andrew Chapman, Jaime Murcia,

  Melanie Faith Dove, Noel Butcher, Erin Jonasson and Phil Campbell

Publisher: Ten Bag Press

Designer: Phil Campbell 

Description: Hardback book with pictorial boards, landscape format, 21.7 x 27.7 cm, 232 pages

Printed: Adams Print, Geelong

First Edition: 6,000

ISBN: 9780646822440

Price: A$ 59.95

ABSTRACT (edited from the publisher’s website): Between 1880 and 1930, a series of schemes brought thousands of settlers to Victoria’s Mallee region. At the same time, a number of railway lines were constructed through the area … Now, almost a century after the settlement schemes ended and the depopulation of the Mallee began the book retraces the railway lines to see what remains.  The book is a portrait of the small communities that dot the region and the people who call them home.

NOMINATED BY ALISON STIEVEN-TAYLOR

The Mallee is both a nostalgic tale and an important historical documentation of a region that is transforming, not only from a socio-economic perspective, but environmentally. The photographs in The Mallee capture the heart and soul of this region, evoking the romanticism of Australia’s rural landscapes, the sweeping vistas, vast sky and rich palette. The book also depicts the personalities that transform these towns into tight knit communities and give them their unique flavour.

 

A REVIEW OF THE BOOK: Arts Review

BUY THE BOOK: HERE

 

 

HARVEY BENGE et al – And then there were none …   Rim Books

BOOK TITLE: … and then there were none

Authors: Harvey Benge, Jon Carapiet, Haruhiko Sameshima, Stu Sontier (photographs) and Lloyd Jones (writing)

Publisher: Rim Books

Designer: Rim Books

Description: Hardback with cloth cover, 27 x 20 cm and 64 pages

Printed: Everbest Printing Investment Ltd

First Edition:

ISBN: 978–0–9951184–1–6

Price: NZD$ 40.00

ABSTRACT (edited from the publisher’s website): Developed over the last two years  …and then there were none grew from conversations and arguments about mortality, our technologically conflicted existence and the degradation of the environment. A nod to mortality echoing through the book is made more stark by the recent death of one of the photographers, adding a sense of urgency to the title of the book – not just for the remaining collaborators, but for us all.

 

NOMINATED BY DAVID COOK

A ‘Risk’ board, a fallen tree, melting ice, monumental ruins… these pages conjure up a planet where our past

and future meet in the haunted present. The remarkable thing about this book is the collaborative authorship;

that is where the hope lies. We need more experimental adventures like this.

(NB: This is Harvey’s final book. We miss you!).

 

BUY THE BOOK: HERE

 

 

 

 

PETER MILNE – Juvenilia, M.33

BOOK TITLE: JUVENILIA

Author: Peter Milne

Afterword: Polly Borland

Edit: Helen Frajman

Publisher: M.33, Melbourne

Designer: Sasha Taylor

Description: Soft cover,  26 x 23 cm, 88 pages

Printer: Impact Digital, Melbourne

Edition: 200

ISBN: 978-0-6484899-3-1

Price: A$ 55.00

 

NOMINATED BY HELEN FRAJMAN – The publisher

Being asked to choose a favourite book of those we published in 2020 is a melancholy (if very simple affair) as we only published one book this dreadful year, Peter Milne’s delightful ‘Juvenilia’. A companion volume to his 2015 book ‘A Day in the Life of Rowland S Howard’,  ‘Juvenilia’ brings together a further 70 plus astonishingly fresh photographs of friends and family taken by Milne when he was a very young man.

Warm, intimate, surprising and already displaying the great compositional skills, originality and humour for which Milne is known, these images offer an unprecedented peep into mid 1970s to mid 1980s Melbourne and a milieu of people who would go on to play pivotal roles in Melbourne’s burgeoning cultural scene. Starting in 1976 when Milne was 16 and photographing school friends Gina Riley and Rowland S Howard, the photographs feature a dazzling cast including Anita Lane, Nick Cave, Blixa Bargeld, Polly Borland, Richard Lowenstein and Mick Harvey. A joyous and tender book.

 

A REVIEW: Sydney Morning Herald

BUY THE BOOK: HERE

 

ALLAN McDONALD – The Holding

BOOK TITLE: THE HOLDING

Authors: Allan McDonald (photographs), Jeanette Budgett (text)

Publisher: Rim Books

Designer: Fiona Lacelles

Description: Softcover with flaps, printed offset throughout on uncoated stock, portrait, 31 x 21 cm, 54 pages

Printed: SOAR (Auckland)

Edition: 150

ISBN: 978-0-9951184-2-3

Price NZD$ 50.00

ABSTRACT (from the publisher): The Holding is a sequence of photographs preoccupied with the pleasures of walking and reading, of experiencing the city as a book or a song.  At a time when the activities of reading and listening are caught in the shift from analogue to digital these images record an aspect of our material culture in a time of transition. 

 

NOMINATED BY MARY MACPHERSON

Hovering between a large format magazine and a book Allan McDonald’s The Holding looks at books, newspapers and superseded formats such as CDs, records and photographic prints. In between, occasional figures move through glass fronted city spaces. Like other McDonald works one of the chief pleasures is sense of poetic melancholy, this time in the newspaper covered shop windows and aging second hand goods rendered in green/blue pastel tones. The spacious design gives the large scale images presence and provokes thoughts about past and future technologies.

 

BUY THE BOOK: HERE

 

 

ALEX FRAYNE – Landscapes of South Australia

BOOK TITLE: LANDSCAPES OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Authors: Alex Frayne

Publisher: Wakefield Press

Designer: Nick Phillips

Description: Hardback cover with spot varnish on the hard cover images, landscape, 32.5 x 26 cm

Printed: Everbest Printing Investment Ltd

First Edition

ISBN: 978 1 74305 782 7

Price: AD$ 75.00

ABSTRACT (from the publisher): South Australia’s landscapes are extraordinary and enriching. Alex Frayne pays them marvellous homage in this triumphant and emotional photographic essay. Here is the work of a master of his art. Frayne is a celebrated South Australian artist whose chosen form is photography. With a pedigree in filmmaking, he shoots predominantly analogue formats including 6 x 6 cm, 6 x 9 cm and 35 mm.

 

NOMINATED BY WILLIAM YANG

Alex photographs many different types of landscapes and manages to imbue them with a sense of wonder and beauty; partly because of his straight forward approach and the fact he shoots in film, achieving a pleasing soft tone, but mainly because he has a good eye and lets nature speak for itself.

A REVIEW: The Guardian

BUY THE BOOK: HERE

 

 

 

JULIA BOOTH – Blanche Violet Maher ….. PHOTOs Courtesy of MomentoPro

BOOK TITLE: BLANCHE VIOLET MAHER

Author & Self-publisher: Julia Booth

Editor: Rachel Knepfer

Designer: Oscar Martin

Description: Hardback,  38 X 30.48cm

Printed: Momento Pro

First Edition of 20 SOLD OUT – a second print run is planned later in 2021

ISBN: 9780646826837

Price: AD$ 450.00

ABSTRACT: Blanche Violet Maher was a late Victorian era photographer who lived in country New South Wales near Muswellbrook. She worked with a combination of dry plate and wet collodion plates and later with film after 1900. Blanche’s work from 1894-1920 is previously unseen. As well as her photographs the book also includes Blanche’s notebook of developing formulas, recipes and knitting patterns.

 

NOMINATED BY LIBBY JEFFERY

Not only is Blanche Violet Maher an incredible historical legacy for the photographer’s family, it is a publication of national and international significance, as one of few records of Victorian-era women photographers.

It reveals a refreshingly female gaze on people, places and activities in early 20th century rural Australia. Weaving in extra archival material such as recipes for food and complex photographic processes adds to the story, and the result is a stunning homage to Blanche’s photography and life

 

THE WEBSITE: HERE

A REVIEW: MomentPro

ENQUIRE ABOUT THE BOOK: HERE

 

 

BOOK TITLE: Artists in Residence

 Author: Suzanne Pheonix

Designer: Suzanne Phoenix

Description: Hardcover/softcover, large format landscape, 33 × 28 cm, 104 pages

Printed: BLURB

ISBN: Hardcover with dust jacket: 9781715784089, Hardcover with image wrap: 9781715784072

Price A$ 150.00

ABSTRACT (edited from the author’s website): Over 3 weeks Suzanne Phoenix created virtual photographic portraits with 52 artists over Zoom calls while catching up and chatting about how we were coping… Each artist was then given their virtual portrait via email and they responded to it in their own way. These included digital modification, illustrations, sewing onto the photo or printing it and even rolling it in a ball, planting it and watering it …

 

NOMINATED BY ROSS COULTER

During Stage 4 lockdown (2020) Suzanne Phoenix documented and collaborated with a wide range of artists. Working with musicians, sound artists, installation and visual artists, photographers, Drag Kings and Queens, Phoenix made an extensive portrait of her creative community. Her book, Artist in Residence, is a result of this dialogue and reminds us of the value to record time with each other, that we are not alone, and the importance of connecting with our community.

LINK TO THE AUTHOR: HERE

BUY THE BOOK: HERE

 

 

JANE USSHER – Nature – Stilled

BOOK TITLE: NATURE – STILLED

Authors: Jane Ussher

Publisher: Te Papa Press

Designer: Arch MacDonnell, Inhouse. Type by Alistair McCready, Inhouse

Description: Hardback, quarter-bound with Wibalin Buckram, gold foil on title, and two ribbon markers in different shades of green, portrait, 25 x 20.2 cm, 368 pages

Printed: Everbest Printing Investment Ltd, China

First Edition:

ISBN: 978-0-9951136-9-5

Price NZD$ 70.00

ABSTRACT: Award-winning photographer Jane Ussher spent several weeks in Te Papa’s natural history collection storage areas shooting this outstanding book… Stunningly photographed and beautifully designed, its 157 images capture the glory of the insect, fish, mollusc and botanical specimens that represent the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa’s vast and scientifically important collections. Te Papa’s expert curators and collections managers have written the short texts about each natural history object.

 

NOMINATED BY MARY MACPHERSON

Since the 1980s and 90s Jane Ussher’s fine editorial portraits for the New Zealand Listener have made her name well known in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Since then she’s since branched out into book projects, the latest being Nature – Stilled. Ussher takes what could have been the unpromising subject of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa’s natural history collection and turned it into an elegant, engaged portrait of all manner of bird, fish and insect life. The work of Inhouse Design also turns the mighty 368 page volume into a thing of beauty.

A REVIEW: PhotoForum NZ

AN INTERVIEW: Te Papa

BUY THE BOOK: HERE

 

 

PAULA MORRIS & HARU SAMESHIMA    Shining Land: Looking for Robin Hyde

BOOK TITLE: SHINING LAND: Looking for Robin Hyde

Authors: Paula Morris (text) and Haru Sameshima (photographs)

Publisher: Massey University Press

Designer: Gary Stewart, The Gas Project

Description: Hardback, portrait, 25 x 19 cm, 96 pages

Printed: Everbest Investment Limited, China

First Edition: 950

ISBN: 978-0-9951318-2-8

Price NZD$ 45.00

ABSTRACT: Shining Land: Looking for Robyn Hyde brings together award-winning novelist Paula Morris and distinguished photographer Haru Sameshima. It is the second in the kōrero series of picture books edited by Lloyd Jones… In Shining Land Morris and Sameshima focus on the New Zealand journalist, poet, fiction writer and war correspondent Robin Hyde, exploring three locations important to her difficult life and ground-breaking work. This beautifully considered small book richly rewards the reader and stretches the notion of what the book can do.

 

NOMINATED BY ALLAN McDONALD

The photographer and the writer have a shared purpose to track down the elusive Robyn Hyde. Elusive not because she was in hiding, to the contrary she was in the thick of it; war, illness, romantic disappointment, the sexist politics of the time, all had their impact. She was elusive because her unsettled and brief life left many fragments, the patterns of her domestic life were unconventional, more a yearning than an anchor.

Morris and Sameshima knit together the evidence from the places she inhabited, from her writings, and those of the people around her. They search, sometimes together and sometimes in parallel, under the shadow of a pandemic crisis. Their own discombobulating time interwoven with hers. Past and present sometimes combining in moments of elucidation as when they visit the attic room in the Grey Lodge, a place of psychiatric lockdown, where for almost four years she wrote prolifically and found some sort of sanctuary.

This is an empathic and tactile book which tells the story of an artist whose work still resonates.

 

BUY THE BOOK: HERE

 

 

TIM PAGE – NAM Contact ….. PHOTOs Courtesy of MomentoPro

BOOK TITLE: NAM CONTACT

Authors: Tim Page

Publisher: Self-published

Designers: Stephen Dupont & Tim Page

Description: A book, a limited edition gelitan silver print in an embossed folder, an envelope containing a poignant document are all housed in a simulated Kodak Veribrom B&W paper box. The book, a hardback of 500 pages, 48 X 35cm is of the same format of the early LIFE magazine and the document envelope replicates the original LIFE magazine envelope used to return undeveloped film from the field for processing . Also in the box is a pair of handling gloves and an old style loupe film magnifier and a photograph hand printed photograph by Chris Reid of Blanco Negro.

Printed: Momento Pro

Limited Edition: 9

Price A$ 5,000

ABSTRACT: Tim Page became world renowned for his coverage of the Vietnam War.  Wounded on multiple occasions he defined and epitomised the war photographer of his generation. As an activist and photojournalist he pushed the boundaries of press freedom to being home the truth. Known for his colour images, this is the first look into his archive of B&W frames. ‘NAM CONTACT’ explores Tim’s contact sheets and the art of capturing the perfect 35mm frame. They are Page’s visual diaries, his observations and his storyboards of humanity and inhumanity through war. (Adapted from the 2020 Head-On NAM CONTACT exhibition press release)

 

NOMINATED BY DOUG SPOWART

This book is testimony to Page’s documentary work and the power of the photograph to position the viewer in the time and place of its capture. The pages of the book present single images as well as the contact sheets from which the images came. Additional information is provided in the form of ephemera from Page’s archive that adds to the narrative of the photographer as witness and storyteller.

Stephen Dupont collaborated with Page on the image edit and in the design of ‘NAM Contact’. The book and its presentation package consists of a simulated Kodak paper box containing a exposed film satchel along with a gelatine silver print and magnifying loupe.

‘NAM Contact’ is a powerful document of war, a photographer and the stories that they still need to tell…

 

About the Tim Page book  project…

https://www.facebook.com/paul.brinkleyrogers/posts/10160239570488065

Words by Wade Goddard for the NAM Contact exhibition at the War Photo Gallery in Dubrovnik in 2019

https://www.headon.com.au/exhibitions/nam-contact

ENQUIRE ABOUT THE BOOK: HERE

 

DIANE STOPPARD – The light is inconsolable

BOOK TITLE: The light is inconsolable

Authors: Diane Stoppard (photographs) and Arthur Fairley (poetry) and Cathy Tuato’o Ross (essay)

Publisher: Self-published by the authors

Designer: Tasha Oxford

Editing: Grant O’Neill, Ellie Smith and Jim McCloud

Description: Softcover perfect bound, 25.5 x 21cm, 72 pages

Printed: Momento Pro (New Zealand)

Limited Edition: 100

ISBN: 978-0-473-54387-7

Availability: Sold Out

ABSTRACT: This book of poetry and images contains the work of professional photographer and artist Diane Stoppard, and poet and criminal lawyer Arthur Fairlie. Diane has carefully selected from Arthur’s vast collection of poetry written over many years, choosing poems that resonated with her and reflected the theme of light. She has then crafted images using her black and white pinhole photographs of landscapes layered with her subtle coloured digital photographs. (Adapted from the author’s website)

 

NOMINATED BY VICTORIA COOPER

A deep quiet and slowness of spirit permeates the reading this book. It is not a book that relies on trends in design or binding to support its communiqué.

Once beyond the initial introductory information, the poetic text is pared back and sparse allowing each word and phrase to linger the mind throughout the reading. There is hint of colour shimmering dreamily through the black and white images, an empathetic layering of two ways of seeing through photography.

Although separate entities in the book, both the poems and the photomontages interplay gently as they echo each other throughout the reading. Seduced by this lyrical nature of the work, the reader is then drawn into an indeterminate and elusive search for meaning.

 

ENQUIRE ABOUT THE BOOK: HERE

 

 

Nicholas Walton-Healy – House of Ghosts

BOOK TITLE: HOUSE OF GHOSTS

Author: Nicholas Walton-Healey

Designer: Nicholas Walton-Healey

Description: Soft cover, 29.7 x 21 cm, 52 pages

Printed: Ad

Limited Edition: 50

ISBN:

Price: AD$ 35.00

ABSTRACT: This ongoing project revolves around a collection of photographs produced in 2012, on an ‘abandoned’ block located in the north-east Melbourne suburb of Preston. Inspired by the ramshackle and graffitized nature of the factory-type buildings, it began with an attempt to find better views than those available from the street. This endeavour however, led to an encounter with a gang of mankie punks (also in company of a strong-looking dog). (From the author’s website)

 

NOMINATED BY DOUG SPOWART

On opening this modest book stumble into the private and personal space inhabited by people on the edge living in a crumbling industrial building that is their squat. Its inhabitants may be itinerant or permanents and protective of their space. Those who enter may receive a hostile response – but somehow Walton-Healy has earned their trust and he has documented place and face. The B&W photographs present a gloomy and shadow-filled stage out of which the inhabitants emerge as people with stories, character and resilience.

The simple A5 book contains a photonarrative of conversations interspersed with people met and the how, despite their quite different lives to most, they still have somewhere to call – Home.

 

BUY THE BOOK: HERE

 

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ABOUT THE 2020 BEST PHOTOBOOK NOMINATIONS

In late 2020 we contacted key contributors to the photobook discipline in New Zealand and Australia for their Best Book nominations. Their response culminates with this Blog post.

We thank the supporters of this initiative and look forward to, at the end of this year – calling again for nominations for the Best Books of 2021.

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Our 2020 nominators

 

Alison Stieven-Taylor

ALISON STIEVEN-TAYLOR

Who/what I do: Alison Stieven-Taylor is a writer and scholar who is passionate about storytelling in pictures.

Alison writes for many magazines and online sites and is the publisher of the Blog Photojournalism Now.

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David Cook (New Zealand)

DAVID COOK

Who/what I do: David Cook makes photobooks about community. He lectures in photography at Massey University, Wellington, and co-leads the biennial Photobook NZ fes@val.

 

 

Mary Macpherson (New Zealand)

MARY MACPHERSON

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.

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Ross Coulter (Australia)

ROSS COULTER

Who/what I do: Ross Coulter is an artist living and working in Naarm (Melbourne).

 

 

William Yang  (Australia)

WILLIAM YANG

Who/what I do: William Yang is a artist who work is based on documentary photography and performance. He has been photographing for 50 years now and his own life is the thread that runs through his work. His performance piece Sadness, 1992, was made into a film by Tony Ayres in 1999 and has won many awards. A major exhibition of Yang’s work Seeing and being seen will be shown at the Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane in late March 2021.

 

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Helen Frajman     PHOTO: Doug Spowart

HELEN FRAJMAN

Who/what I do: Helen Frajman is the Publisher at M.33.

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Libby Jeffery  (Australia)

LIBBY JEFFERY

Who/what I do: Libby Jeffery is co-founder of Australian photo book company Momento Pro and co-ordinator of the Australia and New Zealand Photobook Award.

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Allan McDonald  (New Zealand)

ALLAN McDONALD

Who/what I do: Allan McDonald is a lecturer in photography at Unitec, Te Whare Wānanga o Wairaka. He works with an archive of images spanning more than 50 years from which he curates narratives of social history and place. These often appear as small publications, most recently Between the Silence and the Flame 2016, Carbon Empire, 2017 and The Holding 2020. Carbon Empire won the New Zealand Photobook of the Year Award. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Auckland Art Gallery, Te Papa and the Chartwell Collection. He is represented by the Anna Miles Gallery in Auckland.

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Victoria Cooper   PHOTO: Doug Spowart

VICTORIA COOPER

Who/what I do: Dr Victoria Cooper’s work has been acquired for the photobook and artists’ books, rare book and manuscript collections in many private, regional and state public galleries, national and international collections. She has judged photobook awards and has contributed to photobook review panels in Australia. She is co-founder of The Antipodean Photobook.

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Doug Spowart PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

DOUG SPOWART

Who/what I do: Dr Doug Spowart’s research on Australian and New Zealand Photobooks was featured at the Vienna Photobook Festival and he was commissioned by TATE Britain to select a collection of ANZ photobooks to be included in their Martin Parr Photobook collection. He is the founder of The Antipodean Photobook social entities.

 

 

 

LAUNCHED AT THE MELBOURNE ART BOOK FAIR 27 MARCH 2021

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PLEASE – Let us know about your experience in viewing this page…

UNTIL NEXT YEAR ……

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Rim Books says:

    Hi Doug

    This is good work! Thank you so much for all you do over there – have a great time at the book Fair. . I am guttered I can’t be there. . .

    Haru

    >

    Like

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