Video portraits

It’s about the photographs but, for some elements of the work, video provides a way to break the constraints of the still image. The videos provide an opportunity to add another dimension to the original photographs by including audio or integrating alternative images or other variations. Video doesn’t replace the images – it is intended to complement them. Have a look…

The Lido Bistro: 8 portraits (7:53)

This short film compiles video portraits of eight sets of people who were regular customers of the Lido Bistro, an eatery and bar. The Lido is in the Belconnen Mall, a big shopping centre in Belconnen, a district on the north-west of Australia’s national capital, Canberra. The portraits were taken at the Lido in 1989. On one of their visits a week or two after the photo shoot, the subjects penned a message on their photographs in their own handwriting (those photographs can be seen at the end of each sequence). The conversation started off with their musings on the Lido itself, but they were free to go wherever they liked so long as they maintained a focus on themselves. 

Portrait of a stairwell landing (1:01)

A series of images taken on the landing of a stairwell at a parking area in the Belconnen Mall in Canberra, Australia’s national capital. The portraits were shot at this site on one day in August 1990. The 10 people agreed to have their photographs taken on the spot. Highlighting their status as passers-by, the subjects are anonymous (the exception is my father, appearing as the final person in the series, who happened to be walking by on his way to work). In this series, the backdrop takes the studio out on location, isolating the people from their immediate surroundings and allowing us to look at them almost as a specimen – an amalgam of body, clothes and belongings. The photographs extend well beyond the backdrop, making the momentary presence of these people into a layered portrait of this otherwise inconsequential spot in the mall. 

Working Peel Street (7:55)

A series of eight portraits from the 1992 Tamworth Country Music Festival. This video features buskers, hawkers and other working on Peel Street in the middle of  Tamworth. Spiros Coutroubas and Peter Wright visited the Festival in 1992 intending to turn their photographs and audio recordings into an article on the busking scene on Peel Street. The article never happened but the photographs and recordings were transformed into a moving picture film that formed part of the exhibition ‘Working Peel Street’. The exhibition took place in Tamworth in 2022, during the 50th annual Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Messages from Peel Street (8:56)

Another series portraits from the 1992 Tamworth Country Music Festival. In this set people were asked to answer the question ‘What do you think of the Country Music Festival?’ with a few words on a card. They were then were photographed with their responses. The messages are complemented with audio from the subjects which adds something to our understanding of the people and also of the time in which these media were created. The video formed part of the exhibition ‘Working Peel Street’ which took place in Tamworth in 2022 – a year that marked the 50th annual Tamworth Country Music Festival.