CHRIS ROUND (Sydney, Australia)
I’m a Fine Art photographer, based in Sydney, Australia. I studied at both Canterbury College of Art and the School of Communication Arts in the UK, and also Sydney College Of Art in Australia. I’ve also had a career in advertising, winning many international accolades including a coveted Grand Prix at Cannes.
I am primarily interested in documenting the everyday world around me, with a particular interest in landscapes featuring human interventions that visually activate their surroundings in strangely compelling ways. I am drawn to spaces that convey surreal or fictitious narratives, fortuitously photogenic environments that I try to carefully document rather than photographically exaggerate. Some of my work also explores the notion of place in the context of my dual citizenship of Australia and the UK.
My work has been awarded both locally and internationally highlights include: Shortlisted, World Photo Awards; Prize winner & finalists, HeadOn Landscape prize; winner Best Architectural Image, Kodak Salon, CCP Melbourne; selected Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Prize; Prize winner & finalists Perth Centre for Photography CLIP award; FotoFilmic Shortlist & exhibitor.
[different sections relate to 3 different series being submitted]
These images are taken from a series concerning the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme in NSW, Australia. Created between 1949-1972 it’s regarded as the most ambitious industrial project in Australia’s history, and is an engineering wonder of the world. The Scheme diverts snowmelt water from the Snowy Mountains westward for use in farmland irrigation, all the while creating hydro electricity. But, on the driest continent on Earth, this is ultimately a story about humans reshaping the environment to solve our most basic need – water preservation. With the Scheme set amongst the Kosciusko National Park this is an exploration of the delicate balance between nature and man’s intervention upon it. Over 18-months I’ve observed the natural and the un-natural, the vast structures amongst epic landscapes, the re-shaped waterways and newly ones. It’s my aim to create a contemporary document of a landscape that changed in order to change a nation.
These images are from a series called Cruise.
The huge social and economic change that has swept across China in recent decades has brought with it the demand for new vacation experiences. Cruise companies are one of the beneficiaries of this demand, with Western-style cruises becoming ever more popular. As well as being a status symbol, cruise holidays are a chance to escape the frenzy of everyday life and the polluted skies of the cities. Cruising also has intergenerational appeal in China, with extended families holidaying together; some elderly members perhaps leaving the country for the very first time. Even during the cooler winter months (went I took this cruise) many cruises remain popular, with passengers taking to the decks and enjoying the various activities.
The images were taken on a cruise from Shanghai to Hong Kong via Okinawa. I concentrated primarily on the outdoor areas, trying to capture a sense of journey through waters that were no doubt new to many aboard the ship. Wandering around this vast floating island I was drawn to the ever-changing seascapes, views of the ports, and the different aspects of life on deck in the cool East China Sea air.
These images are from a series called Fragile Beast.
The China Clay mining industry in Cornwall, England, is a shadow of its former self. Once producing around 50% of the world’s supplies, the industry has been in decline for some time, with the workforce reduced by half in recent decades. Rising costs, and cheaper supplies from countries like Brazil have left many projects economically unviable. The environmental and social consequences are significant. And, despite the hope of site re-development (like the Eden Project), the physical and emotional scars remain. In recent years some spoil heaps have been re-generated, and some mining pits re-developed for recreational uses. However, many projects remain in limbo, awaiting a more favourable economic climate, or simply a formal retirement.
In my observations here I’m interested in how the man-made features of the environment have become a metaphor for the emotional scars experienced by a once thriving community; open wounds exposed to the elements, slowly healing, with any chance of a quick recovery long gone. Pyramid-like spoil heaps rise like shallow graves, with ‘nature’ trying to re-claim the ascendency, crudely camouflaging these ‘Cornish Alps’. In some areas wooden stakes – supporting tree saplings – dot the landscape like wooden crosses in a military cemetery, a poignant reminder of the natural cycle of life and death. When one considers the physical and emotional scars that dominate this region, it’s easy to note the irony that china clay is the primary ingredient in porcelain: used to create beautiful, decorative vases and ornaments. And yet, like the environment, theirs is also a fragile existence.
Practice Statement: How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
For me film is all about discipline. It forces me to really consider the image I intend to capture because I don’t have a memory card to load up with options – I have to consider every element within the frame. The tonal range, the grain, and the creamy highlights are second to none. And hey, if I mess it up there maybe a unique and happy accident that completely transforms the image!