On Wednesday 31 October, over 30 arts professionals, media, C3West partners, the Director of the MCA and artist Garry Trinh boarded a bus from the MCA Circular Quay forecourt and drove out to Western Sydney Parklands to launch the first stage of an exciting new collaboration between the MCA and the Western Sydney Parklands Trust (WSPT). Within Walking Distance is a series of 15 billboards featuring Trinh’s evocative photographs which invite us to rediscover the Parklands.
The project was launched by MCA Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, and Suellen Fitzgerald, Executive Director of WSPT, at the beautiful Lizard Log picnic ground, after a bus tour of the billboards.
Trinh uses photography to capture unexpected and spontaneous moments in daily life and to express personal ideas. His photographs are about a way of looking at the world, to see the amazing in the mundane, to find magic in the everyday. He is never bored.
Here, he discusses his inspiration for the project, some of the challenges of the Parklands and why he likes to walk, with C3West Curatorial Assistant Toby Chapman.
Can you elaborate on the title of this project, Within Walking Distance?
All the images for this project were taken within walking distance of the billboard were it is displayed. The title Within Walking Distance is a reference to that idea.
To me, the title is also an encouragement for others to explore the things that surrounds them. To re-look at our surrounding in creative and alternative ways. To make the best use of what we already have.
Your photographs often play with scale. How do you envisage your photographs will look as large-scale billboards?
This will be the biggest size I have ever printed my photographs. The images will be installed amongst a landscape competing with other big signs and buildings so the scale could be considered normal within that environment. I think what will make them stand out is the subject matter and style of images which is rarely seen at that size.
Were there any challenges working on such a scale? Did it affect your process or image selection?
The challenge was conforming to the various dimensions of the billboards. They ranged from 5 to 13 metres wide, all with varying heights. Every photo I took I had to think about a particular billboard format. I made at least 8 different images of every scene I took. This was to allow for flexibility during editing. Portrait format, landscape format, close up, wide, medium range etc. Some images looked wonderful in a portrait format yet terrible in landscape. The dimensions of the billboards played a huge role during editing.
The images used in the extra wide billboards are all composed of about 6 images, all stitched together to create a panorama. These were the most difficult ones to create because I had to force myself to see the landscape in a panoramic format, which was a challenge after being so accustomed to seeing the world through s rectangular frame.
Your photographs capture beautifully candid moments in life. Is there a method you use when taking photographs?
I carry a small camera with me at all times. I like going to places that everybody ignores. I like exploring what is around me I don’t like going too far. I love the solitude of photography I have never had an assistant. I like to see the photographer’s personality in their photographs. I try to see the world with a curious and open mind. I don’t like pre-planning a shoot. I never stop thinking about photography.
You’ve said that it’s important that your images aren’t staged or digitally corrected. Why?
I don’t enjoy the process of sitting in front of a computer and digitally fixing an image so I try to do as little post processing as possible. The type of photography I do is considered documentary so it’s important to maintain some element of truth.
Your practice seems to be based on two different actions – walking and looking. Can you speak about the relationship between the two, and why walking is important to you?
Walking and looking combined is simply a great way to explore my surrounding and discover visual delights.
What were some of the most surprising sights that you came across in the Parklands?
Some of the more unusual things I saw on my walks included a black kangaroo. A rabbit the size of a cat. Long black snakes, including a 2 meter snake that had been completely burnt by a recent fire. I saw a complete skeletal remains of a dog and many interesting old abandoned cars.
How much did you know about the Parklands before this project?
I’m embarrassed to say I knew nothing about the Parklands before this project.
Do you imagine that you will return now that this project is complete?
I restricted much of my photography within the boundaries of the parklands during the project. During the short time I was there I notice the vegetation change quite a bit. I would like to return at different times of the year to experience the changes and also to see the developments that is constantly evolving around the park’s perimeter.
Posted by Kate Andrews-Day
Find out more about the project.
Find out more about the Western Sydney Parklands Trust.
Photography: Catherine McElhone