Photography | Brian Rope
Chris Holly | Scan
McGeachie | In Case Of Emergency Underpass Name
The current group of exhibitions at M16 Artspace include photography shows by well-known and successful Canberra locals, Chris Holly and Brenton McGeachie.
In their art practices, Holly is particularly known for his landscapes and nature depicting the living world around us. McGeachie is primarily about space and people’s interaction with it.
Holly looks at the Seen or, if you prefer, explores the overlooked and unseen. McGeachie explores built and personal landscapes and other environments.
Whilst they are separate exhibitions with no intended links between them, I found myself exploring them both in similar ways. Mention the word Scan and many people might initially think of a photocopier or a medical examination. We also speak of scanning the horizon, perhaps assessing incoming weather. And, of course, when rushed we scan newspaper pages of most interest to us rather than reading them thoroughly.
Then, considering the word Explore we might initially think of travel we have undertaken in unfamiliar places. We might also think of making enquiries about something, or examining something using our senses – touch, smell, sight.
Scan explore elements of the Australian biota that appear through transient seasonality and disappear through an individual transformation and decay. The quality of these images is so good that I was surprised to learn they are the outcome of using a flatbed scanner without its lid in a darkened room.
A question is posed for us by Holly, inviting us to make our personal enquiries. “What do we reveal when we scan nature around us?” Eighteen beautiful scans displayed here as framed type C prints provide a response to his own question. He says that scanning across select elements of flora in a different light invites us, the viewers, to observe in different ways.
Scan #01, 2020, edition 9, type C print, size (29x29 cm) © Chris Holly
This work is part of his lifelong biome series, exploring and documenting our biological surrounds - a biome being a community of plants and animals that have common characteristics for the environment they exist in.
Reading the catalogue, we are invited to slow our breathing and stare at an image for at least twenty seconds, then close their eyes to see “into the great void”, when the “vestige will appear”. It suggests the retinal and memory vestige will encourage us all to see again what is overlooked. Visit and try it.
In Case of Emergency Underpass explores ‘ignored’ spaces of cities and suburbia, mostly in Japan with some in Indonesia. The somewhat lengthy exhibition title comes directly from one of the images. In a sense these images too are scans - the result of McGeachie scanning those spaces and finding elements of particular interest that relate together, such as underpasses lacking people. The lack of interaction by people is the antithesis of what we think of in bustling Japan.
Untitled 1, Pigment ink on Hahnemuhle paper, 603 mm x 430 mm © Brenton McGeachie
Each of fourteen framed prints (pigment ink on Hahnemuhle paper) is worthy of close inspection. Viewers should scan and explore them closely, looking for details within the images – hopefully seeing for themselves the things McGeachie saw that caused him to take these excellent photographs. For me they are contemporary landscapes revealing things that might not be seen when the locations are filled with people.
All good photographers scan – or explore - the material in front of their eyes seeking to identify the key elements, to see how the light is working its magic to reveal or hide certain things, and to then frame what they have seen and push the button to record the image. Both Holly and McGeachie have done that.
This review was first published on page 10 of Panorama in the Canberra Times of 10/10/20. It is also at the author's personal blog here.