Our pop-up gallery held our first-ever photography exhibition last month. Professional photographers, hobbyist lenspeople, and photo lovers stopped by; many conversations about the art form and industry ensued. One particular gallery-goer spoke of the ‘Mass-Imagery Age’. ‘Artists have a blank canvas where they can place anything they like on it,’ he theorised, ‘but photographers, with everything all there, they have to distil it – that’s the art.’
When Warren Kirk’s bright blue hardcover, Suburbia – complete with covershot of a homeowner reclining on their simple porch– arrived on my desk, I was instantly in awe of his ability to distil oft overlooked scenes of our vast city. These vignettes of life in the ‘burbs illicit a distinct sense of nostalgia.
The Melbourne-based photographer was out driving the streets, when I caught him to chat about this follow-up to his popular debut book. ‘People loved Westography, I think they connected with the idea that it was showing our own everyday stories, what we are,’ he tells ‘… a lot of photography books around feature scenes of America and Europe, but this is nostalgia-laden Australia – people can identify with it.’
Warren devotes a great deal of time to combing the streets in search of craftspeople’s workrooms, kitschy interiors, wacky gardens, modernist homes, or residents just simply relaxing in their element! And not only in the West. For his second book, Suburbia, Warren felt it was natural to include scenes from across the whole of Melbourne.
With an introduction by actor William McInnes (who has played his fair share of quintessential Aussies and is today a fan of Warren’s work), Suburbia brings together a selection of Warren’s favourites from an archive of more than 40,000 digital images!!
The lensman simply hopes this release will bring people joy, whether it makes them sigh, laugh, or even cringe at the kitsch… and he wouldn’t mind if it encouraged people to stop tearing everything down and building bland townhouses! ‘It would be nice for everyone to appreciate what we are losing; the beauty of the commonplace, the beauty you stumble across in the everyday. And that’s what I’m about, I photograph these things because I love them myself,’ he says. ‘There’s this idea that Australian cities are not beautiful, that you’ve got to go abroad… there IS beauty surrounding us, you’ve just got to look!’
‘Suburbia’ by Warren Kirk is published by Scribe Publications and is available online here.