Saturday, November 22, 2008

Story from Otago Daily Times.

The Antarctic is a place of absences rather than presences, something that resonates with Grahame Sydney. Charmian Smith talks to the Central Otago artist, best known as a painter, about his first book of photographs, White Silence: Grahame Sydney's Antarctica ,
(Penguin $115).

Anyone can take wonderful photographs in the Antarctic because the place is so spectacular, but Central Otago artist Grahame Sydney wanted to put his own artistic stamp on the photographs he took.
"The really interesting challenge is how do you come away from a place like that which is so fabulous and made for image making - no matter which way you point there is something extraordinary and will make an extraordinary photograph, but it won't necessarily make a photograph that will be mine," he says.

Over 30 years painting his distinctive works, Sydney has become aware of "a nefarious personality inside the frame". Although he does not attempt to explain how or why it happens, he is fascinated by the particular artistic personality that manifests in an artist's work. He wants his to show in all his work, whatever the medium.

"Obviously, it's instinct at work. It's your instinct being allowed full voice and I've learned to trust that instinct over the years and believe in it - believe that if there's any quality that's attached to what I do, that's where it comes from.
"The question is always whether other people share your interest in it and whether they think it matters, but that's not for me to worry about - that's for other people to worry about and time to worry about
," he says.
"For me, the challenge was how the hell am I going to do justice to my own well-developed artistic character or personality and avoid the clichés that everyone else naturally takes."

Sydney first went to the Antarctic in November 2003, then again in October 2006 at the invitation of Antarctica New Zealand.
Since his school days he had admired the early, heroic explorers, Scott and Shackleton and their teams, especially scientist and artist Edward Wilson and photographer Herbert Ponting on
Scott's expedition, and photographer Frank Hurley on Shackleton's expedition.
Read the full piece in the Otago Daily Times online.
Photographs from the book reproduced by permission of the author/artist. Copyright Grahame Sydney.

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