My images reflect the beauty of our natural world, with sensitivity to the beauty close around us heightened by the changes we have all experienced over the last few years, such as fires, floods and Covid.
I think of my photographs as Extracts of the Australian bush and beach. Perhaps they appear abstract; however, they are made in camera, often with camera movement and slow shutter speeds, rather than being digitally created later. As Ansel Adams says:, ‘I like to use the word extract … and the shapes of nature are then organized in the camera – in the mind first.’ Making my photographs requires time and intensive reflection before lifting the camera. Understanding the essence and depth of the nature that surrounds us is the essential – and enjoyable – phase before developing and refining techniques to allow its expression.
How then can we preserve natural heritage and health despite the adverse changes around us in the past few years? We need to consider what WE must change for the world to retain its biodiversity and remain habitable. I hope my images convey some of what is beautiful in our world, while also reminding us that it may be lost if we do not tread more gently on this earth.
The 40 images in this exhibition cover several themes:
Sea change refers to ‘a change caused by the sea’ and originally appeared in a song by the spirit Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. In these images, the change is the transitory reflection of sky on beach sand as a wave recedes, an image obliterated seconds later by the next incoming wave.
Some images show footprints in the sand, which rapidly disappear in a wash of waves. In contrast, our ecological footprint is not as easily erased. This reflects the second, idiomatic, meaning of ‘sea change’: a profound transformation. There has been a profound transformation of our world because of climate change, which in turn necessitates a profound transformation in our behaviour. In the words of Jane Goodall: “We’re the ones who can make a difference … if we lead lives where we consciously leave the lightest possible ecological footprints …”
TO THE MOON
This series views the moon in Australia, mostly dawn moonsets rather than dusk moonrises. The hazards of climate change prompt need for action to preserve the fragile Antipodean environment on which the moon shines in these images, and beyond.
Other series in this exhibition of 40 seemingly abstract photographs are:
* Perception: finding beauty even during Covid lockdowns.
* Rising Up: Eucalypt regrowth after fire, including an image selected for exhibition at the 2022 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibitions in Adelaide and Sydney.
* Layers, Lines, Designs: the patterns of nature.
* Surf Rowing: the resilience of Australians through adversity.
Les Irwig lives in Sydney where his work is inspired by the surrounding bush and beaches. He has exhibited widely, including 8 solo exhibitions and his work is held in collections across the world.
Les received ‘highly honoured’ in the prestigious Windland Rice Smith International Awards run by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, USA in 2008 and is published in their Nature’s Best Photography book, which includes the top 100 photographs out of 20,000 entries. Les was the winner of the 2009 $6000 Murrurundi Photographic Prize, and one of his images was chosen for exhibition in the NSW Parliament in 2011 in the NSW Plein Air Photographic competition.
His images were selected for the Australasian Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2022. His photographs have been used in several publications, most recently on the cover and in his article about water striders in Wildlife Australia in 2018, with a simultaneous web article In Australian Geographic. Les’s ‘Perception’ image was selected for the Head On Vision 2020 book and Video-exhibition.
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