SEVEN: Renewed Topographics

Written by Guest Blogger: Brett Leigh Dicks

As a photography-obsessed teenage I used to covet the small selection of monographs the high school library dedicated to the medium. It was there in the sterile scholastic surrounds under the dull glow of neon light that I first encountered the work of Ansel Adams, Henri CartierBresson, Robert Frank, and Edward Weston.

While my informative inspiration was somewhat restricted one saving grace was the school had a rudimentary darkroom.  Having constantly ditched class to disappear into the darkroom, I pretty much failed dismally academically, but walked away from High School with a photographical education of the highest order.

Over the ensuing years I was introduced to the work of Australian photographers – Max Dupian, David Moore, and Grant Mudford. It was the latter’s work that really struck a chord and set me on the path to finding my own photographic voice. Grant’s elegant black and white planar images of the American west capture my heart and soul. Australia was short on grandiose Ansel Adams-esque landscapes, but it had decaying back-road Australiana and that’s where I honed my craft.

Through Grant Mudford I was introduced to some of his inspirations and the work of some of the great American urban and rural explorers – people like Robert Adams, William Eggleston, Stephen Shore and Grary Winogrand – which in turn introduced me to the “New Topographic” movement which sort to detach itself from stylized subjection in documenting man-altered landscapes.

With “Opposing Forces” about to be launch into the world thanks to the Diefenbunker, my thoughts have turned to my next project.

In making my way to Ottawa I retraced a journey Stephen Shore made almost fifty years ago for his “Uncommon Places” series. I placed my camera in the exact same location Shore place his to take the same photograph he did all those years before. It has been an eye-opening experience witnessing how America has changed for the period of five decades –  and how it hasn’t.

Shore 01

Shore 02

Shore 03

Shore 04

Opposing Forces Exhibition Launch and Artist Talk | Thursday August 2, 7-9pm

Come meet the artist, Brett Leigh Dicks, and learn about his collection of photographs on display in the Diefenbunker’s Vault. You’ll also be the first to hear about his intriguing Cold War journey with his photographs from Santa Barbara, California to the Diefenbunker in Ottawa. Reserve your free tickets on Eventbrite.

Brett’s exhibition “Opposing Forces: Photographs of Abandoned Nuclear Missile Bases” will be on display at the Diefenbunker from August 2 – September 9, 2018.

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