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[© Copyright] 9 Dec 2008 Dylan O'Donnell
CATEGORY : Portraits
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I’ve decided to revisit and post process my portrait of Bill Henson, taken in 2005 at Wangaratta Art Gallery, particularly in light of the recent media frenzy regarding his work, and the issues surrounding his photography. Reproduced below is my original text I blogged in 2005.
Bill Henson has been taking (making) photos since he was nineteen years old giving him thirty years of experience perfecting in the field. As one of Australia’s foremost contemporary photographers he succeeds in both having a large body of diverse work as well as maintaining a thematic and stylistic focus on which he further builds and explores.
Recently Bill Henson exhibited in the National Gallery of Victoria works spanning his thirty year career as curated by the Art Gallery of NSW.
I had the pleasure of making his acquaintance during a Q&A session a small regional gallery in North East Victoria where he earnestly and thoroughly entertained questions from the group of about forty patrons.
Predictably it started “Why?” “How?” “Who?” are these children you photograph? Without hesitation he replied regarding the nature of familiarity vs intimacy, the families who allow him to photograph their children sans clothing and the positive relationships he has with the subject during and years after the sessions.
Thankfully, the questions turned to technique and philosophy. He stated his views on the execution of his work, the nature of photography and our perception of the still image, and even on the recent Digital vs Film debate.
He spoke of opposing forces, so evident in his own work, and the contradictory nature of photography, his thought processes and workflow and, with some probing by myself, the ”wankers” of the art world that distract our attention from truly proficient visual artists.
He was well spoken, versed and coherent, polite, firm, obliging and charismatic in his own way. I would be lying if I said he had not made an impression, as my thoughts recollect. I asked first before taking his portrait, and as a photographer himself, was a trusting and understanding subject.
* Painting behind Bill Henson ”Soft Tones” by David Aspden, 1976 Acrylic on Canvas.
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