Rennie Ellis - under appreciated Australian Photographer

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by hoffy, Apr 24, 2018.

  1. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    This one popped up in the oldschoolcool sub on Reddit yesterday:
    [​IMG]

    It reminded me on why I love Rennie Ellis. This photo pretty much sums up what working class pubs and bars were like in the 70's and 80's - a domain just about solely reserved for the blokes. Singlets and shorts. Flipflops (thongs in Australia - yes, we wear them on our feet). The only thing missing out of this shot is discarded TAB betting slips.

    I often think that Rennie is under-appreciated as an Australian photographer and have always admired is work. I think its time to get one of his books into my collection.

    If you are curious and want to check out his work - http://www.rennieellis.com.au/

    Unfortunately, Rennie died in 2003 at the age of 62.
     
  2. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    Not under appreciated by me, Hoffy, although I know where you are coming from. I highly recommend his book "Decade: 1970-1980" which was published about 5 years ago. Excellent photo selection, layout and print quality.
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Yeah, I've been thinking of getting that one for a while. I think that would be the choice over the two books that are currently readily available.
     
  4. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    [​IMG]

    Lorne 1975 by Rennie Ellis
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    [​IMG]
    In the Pub, Toorak Road c.1970

    I love the contrast between this one and the original post. This is how I also remember a lot of pubs when I was growing up - the old diggers having a beer, still in a suit. Still wearing a hat.
     
  6. Carriage

    Carriage Member

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    By the way, "Decade: 1970-1980" is on sale at readings for $30 (+$5 postage). I just ordered it due to this thread.
     
  7. CMoore

    CMoore Subscriber

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    Time is often Very Kind to Photographers/Street Photographers.
    Not that i am any kind of qualified critic, but i appreciate his Color as much as his Black and White.
    He shot a lot of nice frames.
    Go ahead Australians...Toot Your Own Horn for a change. :smile:
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks! Ordering.
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    One thing that I have found with a lot of social documentary photography is that a lot of it swings to either end of the extremes.

    Him, like Trent Parke, like to often point the lens inwards and show an insite into their own working class heritages. Sure, they look further afield as all good photographers do, but I do appreciate the look at the middle ground.
     
  10. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Subscriber

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    Not so much under-appreciated as faded on the radar, like all notable photographers who died years ago.
    If you went to Salamanca Place in Hobart, surprisingly there isn't much of a presence of the late, great Peter Dombrovskis there, and overseas visitors are none the wiser for who he was until they uncover his books! And so it is with Ellis: you have to come across his books to be jogged back as to the body of work he produced and the nature of the man uncovering the seedier side of nightlight in Australia. So who does that photography now?
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Very valid point.

    I suppose another question would be, which photographers in Australia are still revered, even after their death. Is there a single one?
     
  12. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    Dupain, for sure.
     
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  14. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    possibly Harold Cazneaux & Frank Hurley as well
     
  15. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    David Moore should be, but I don't think he's half as well known as he deserves to be.
    Having said that, the photographers I have mentioned were all somewhat formal in their approach. What I like about Rennie Ellis is that he had a looser style and I find his photos generally rawer and more energetic than those I listed.
     
  16. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Subscriber

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    Peter Dombrovskis is still revered, certainly, but only the "inner circle" of photographers who were active in his time, along with kindred luminaries in academia e.g. University of Tasmania. To a lesser degree but still present, the works of Olegas Truchanas are also sought out for appreciation, remembering he was one of the big opponents of the dammning of Lake Pedder and photographed it like nobody else had long before the transformation. And he, like Dombrovskis, let his photographs do all the talking about a landscape or a contentious issue, without floss, without political polemic or grinding rhetoric.
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Here's the thing.
    Peter Dombrovskis and Olegas Truchanas are names I am totally unfamiliar with. So, based on the "inner circle" comment, I think you are correct.

    As a matter of fact, the only one I really am familiar with (we are talking photographers who have died) in the responses after mine are Dupain.

    I think its a travesty that, in general terms, great photographers are not recognised in Australia in the same way that American Photographers are recognised in America and so on. While I do understand that there are a few more photographers that are household names, I find it a stretch to consider a lot of them greats.

    Good conversation guys! Looks like I have some researching to do.
     
  18. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    Hi Hoffy, you could also ask the question - how many Australian artists are revered after their death? Or novelists, poets, composers etc. I think there would not be many names in any of those categories, so I think it's a broader scenario than just photography. I suspect the Australian education system and the broader culture have a lot to do with this. For sure most Australians could name more revered sportspeople, even racehorses, than they could artists.
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Very much could be.
     
  20. munz6869

    munz6869 Subscriber

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    I've always happily devoured the work of Wolfgang Sievers.....


    Marc!
     
  21. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    I have both books and there is quite a bit of repetition. 1970-1980 is recommended. Actually the story of my awakening life representing my years from age 12 to 22. So many strong memories represented. The pub photo reminds me of the classic AC/DC shots of Bon Scott doing the London pub crawl dressed only in shorts and thongs. Try going into a pub now in a bare chest!
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Again, another photographer who's work I have seen many times before, without actually knowing who it was!

    I know that the NGV does a good job in ensuring that they have a reasonable amount of photography hung at any one time, but what about other state run galleries around the country? I know the Art Gallery of South Australia is rather depressing - the last time I was in there, I could have probably counted less that 50 photography works on display and most of them were Tracey Moffatt!
     
  23. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    Dombrovskis' work wouldn't be hung today. Too soft and lacking contrast and saturation! I was in Salamanca place last year and there was a large photo gallery full of highly saturated eye candy of Tasmania's beauty spots. Don't keep it too real!

    Jon Lewis is still doing some good "street" photography in recent years.
     
  24. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Subscriber

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    The PD pics (including the original Ektachrome and Velvia transparencies which are now in the care of the National Library of Australia) look quite dated, dark, muggy and unconvincing against today's interpretations of the landscape, whether it is executed by digital or analogue means. Original 1980s and 1990s Cibachromes (latterly Ilfochrome Classic) prints, 18 of them framed in 40mm oak and more than a metre tall and wide, are in the Dombrovskis home up at Fern Tree, along with prints from the Truchanas family (in the absence of a father-figure, Olegas was Dombrovskis' mentor after his family emigrated from the Baltic states in 1945). Very, very few people have seen these prints; I viewed them in 2005 and again in 2008 on the invitation of Liz Dombrovskis.
     
  25. awty

    awty Subscriber

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    Good value
    Thanks as well.
     
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