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Landscapes of Survival and Reconciliation

Jim Anderson
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Entry Fee: Free

Jim Anderson. Documentation of the bushwalks of the gay bushwalkers of Southern Cross Outdoors Group.

I began my adult life as a dedicated citizen of the urban environment and had little interest in the natural and timeless Australian landscape until my return to Sydney in the mid-nineties. That was after 30 years away working in London as art editor for OZ Magazine, then California. Back here I had trouble relating to city life, and of my several solutions to the problem, the first was to become involved with Mardi Gras and the second to join the gay bushwalkers of Southern Cross Outdoors Group (SCOG).

I began photographing my fellow walkers and the wild terrain of the trails in the Blue Mountains and the coastal national parks. I fell in love with the colours, the creatures and the complexity of the forests, creeks and canyons and also my fellow men in a general way. Over the years that love has aged and deepened, even as we walkers have also aged – and deepened in our respect and appreciation. 

Many of these men are married or have been married and with children, but were in the closet at the time of my meeting them. Back then bushwalking was a discreet way to be with like-oriented men. My recent photographs reveal how much easier it is for these men in the days of marriage equality. 

This documentation of the SCOG bushwalks has gone on for almost two decades. This past year I have been focussing on trees (often angophoras) which have gone through tough times – drought and flood, fire and storm, colonial depredations and disease, yet have survived, usually with visible scars and remarkable contortions, just as the walkers themselves have aged in both good and bad shape, but have survived. Beauty changes in both form and function but is with us to the end. 

As a photographer (and unrepentant appropriator of imagery from multiple sources) my photos have become images which are both painterly and multi-layered, although not, perforce, as multi-layered as the natural environments which have been my inspiration. However, the layers allow me to develop stories about the men and the ever-changing landscapes we walkthrough, with space that makes room for imagery, titles and text that that reflect both Indigenous and European histories and culture. 

Bought my first camera in San Francisco 1976 and have been showing photography based work at various times and places in group or solo exhibitions ever since.For example: Sydney: 2000 SohoGallery Ride the Snake to the Lake, a documentation of SCOG(Southern Cross Outdoors Group)bushwalks for older gay men and lesbians/2005Quick and the Dead,Finalist Art&About/2005/Portrait Paddy Bedford,Finalist Highly Commended Citigroup Portrait Prize AGNSW/2006Richard&MurrayGSN,Finalist HeadOn Portrait Prize/2007Vietnamatjira&2008Aboriginal Geologic, Damien Minton’s Coloured Digger series/2011 LAMPOON an historical art trajectory1971-2010 Tin ShedsGallery/ 2012-18TAPGalleryOUTLOUDMardiGras&PRIDE/2019 DamienMintonLandscapesOfDesire

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Entry Fee: Free
© Rob Johnston

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