This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

John Gollings’ ‘The History Of The Built World’

Photography

Although this story marks the first time we’ve spoken directly, John Gollings is a household name among our little TDF fam. He is, after all, Melbourne’s preeminent architectural photographer, and as a result, is the lensman behind many of the top archi stories on this site.

Today all the limelight is reserved for the esteemed photographer himself, and both photography and architecture enthusiasts are in for a treat! We’re sharing a look inside his incredible photographic exhibition, ‘The History of The Built World’, on now at Monash Gallery of Art in Wheeler’s Hill.

 

7th February, 2018

Hanuman Temple, Hampi, India 2006. Photo – John Gollings.

The Lotus Building (by Studio 505), Changzhou, China 2013. Photo – John Gollings.

Surfers Paradise aerial, Surfers Paradise, Queensland 2012. Photo – John Gollings.

Kabaw Berber Granary, Kabaw, Libya 2005. Photo – John Gollings.

Berman House (by Harry Seidler), Joadja, New South Wales 2007. Photo – John Gollings.

Featherston House (by Robin Boyd), Ivanhoe, Victoria 2011. Photo – John Gollings.

Bayon, Angkor Thom, Cambodia 2012. Photo – John Gollings.

Webb Bridge (by Robert Owen with Denton Corker Marshall), Docklands, Victoria 2003. Photo – John Gollings.

Uluru Visitor Centre (by Gregory Burgess), Uluru, Northern Territory 1999. Photo – John Gollings.

Vittala Dance Mandapa interior, Hampi, India 2005. Photo – John Gollings.

Small Ganesh, Hampi, India 2006. Photo – John Gollings.

Elle Murrell
Wednesday 7th February 2018

‘This is a retrospective of my life’s work photographing buildings.’ – John Gollings.

The Australian Home of Photography, Monash Gallery of Art, is currently hosting a brilliant exhibition by one revered lensman: John Gollings.

This acclaimed photographer’s path intertwines two life-long passions, and his amateur beginning will likely have you visualising industrious, sepia-tinged eras.

An enthusiastic self-taught photographer at school, John was sought out to capture various events, but went on to study architecture at Melbourne University in the 1960’s instead. After university, the young graduate met various professionals while showing a folio of his amateur photography. He was offered a job in an advertising studio, shooting for the likes of Sportsgirl, Australia Post, Merchant Builders and Marlboro cigarettes – picturing it?

By the late 1970’s, John’s contemporaries from architecture school were beginning to see some of their major projects constructed, and he was asked to shoot these. ‘Increasingly I found that I was preferring architecture to fashion, and decided to specialise in buildings,’ he recalls. In the years since, he certainly has, transporting countless page-turners (and web-scrollers!) inside some of the world’s most striking locations and edifices.

Today, the prolific photographer talks to us about his expansive retrospective, ‘The History of The Built World’, which is now showing at Monash Gallery of Art (MGA).

 

Can you tell us a little about your latest exhibition?

This exhibition at MGA covers images of the built environment, both commercial and my cultural projects on lost civilisations from 1964 to the present day. From hundreds of thousands of possibilities the curator, Stephen Zagala, chose 120.

There is a specific message in this selection that I want the viewer to ponder. Each image is of an amazing structure and could be regarded as the iconic definition of the building. In every case, except the present day buildings, these structures have been abandoned for various reasons: social, political, environmental or military…

The lesson is to know that every civilisation has collapsed despite a built infrastructure more impressive than our current Western democracies and we should not be so smug as to think we are inviolable.

 

Was there a particular moment or story that inspired exhibition, and lead you to group these specific images together?

My life has been serendipitous and schizophrenic with commercial work paralleling my personal projects. It was the curator, Stephen Zagala, who saw the connection and told me what my life was all about.

Previous shows have been with specific themes such as re-photography, portraiture, or advertising work, which has become historically interesting.

However, my architectural work is evolving rapidly with the advent of digital imaging. I can now pre-visualise a much more complex image of multiple exposures and occupants that can be assembled into a rich moody narrative. There are some early versions of this new approach in the exhibition but more will be available for the next iteration.

 

How have you captured and processed these incredible photographs?

Images were made on film with 35-millimetre and 4×5-inch plate cameras and then scanned in high-res on an Imacon scanner. The digital work is mostly Canon EOS bodies. The master files are processed in Photoshop and stored live on a 120 Terabyte NAS box with a parallel backup and fibre optic networking to the workstations.

All the prints are made on our 64-inch Epson inkjet on archival Baryta paper.

The only challenge was to solve the logistics of selection and printing such a large show, and my daughter Kirstin, who controls post-production, and my assistant Jeremy did all of this while I was overseas on another job!

 

What’s next for John Gollings?

Just more of the same, I love my work and the studio is my playground. Just this year is almost booked out with work and more projects in the Kimberley and Asia.

I’m hoping this exhibition will travel all over Australia, it seems to have struck a cord with the viewer that make them happy, and I’d like to share this enthusiasm a bit more.

 

The History of The Built World’ by John Gollings 
On until March 4th
Monash Gallery of Art
860 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill, Melbourne

See more of John Gollings’ work at Gollings.com.au.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Photography

Derek Swalwell · WEST

The architecture of Los Angeles and Las Vegas captured in a new photographic exhibition, opening in Melbourne this week.

In Print

Caddie Magazine

Let me preface this post by saying, I really couldn’t care less about GOLF.  No real reason, it just seems kinda… slow!? And old-fa...

Creative People

Scott Newett · Tao Chien

The Melbourne-based photographer captures a pervading stillness in the world’s most populous state for an astounding new personal series a...
Elle Murrell

This Week

Architecture

A 90m² Inner-Suburban Block Turned Multipurpose Family Home!

MRTN Architects have designed family home, office, and granny flat on a mere 90m² Brunswick East block!

On The Market

A Rammed Earth Masterpiece With Sweeping Mountain Views

Rarely are the stunning architectural homes we feature for sale... but this jaw-dropping Peter Stutchbury Architecture-designed home is!
Marcus Lloyd-Jones
  1 hour ago

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Architecture

A Minimalist Home Where The Landscape Takes Centre Stage

This Mount Mellum, Queensland home by Sparks Architects is all about its incredible views, taking in the ocean and D'Aguilar Range!
Amelia Barnes
  9 hours ago

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

Similar Stories

Photography

Derek Swalwell · WEST

The architecture of Los Angeles and Las Vegas captured in a new photographic exhibition, opening in Melbourne this week.

In Print

Caddie Magazine

Let me preface this post by saying, I really couldn’t care less about GOLF.  No real reason, it just seems kinda… slow!? And old-fa...

Creative People

Scott Newett · Tao Chien

The Melbourne-based photographer captures a pervading stillness in the world’s most populous state for an astounding new personal series a...
Elle Murrell

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.