Date of Award
Bachelor of Communications Honours
Faculty of Communication, Health and Science
This story is about a man named John Forrest, my great-great-great uncle. I want to Investigate how he shaped and enacted upon the space we now call the State of Western Australia: as explorer, as surveyor, and as Premier. The photographs in my thesis explore how he impacted upon the landscape that we currently observe: they illustrate ways in which his past influence can be detected in the landmarks of our state, and they act as evidence of the “bigger picture”, demonstrating the effects his influence has had on the present condition of the land itself. Forrest helped construct many of the keystone elements of Perth; and these bedrock constructions remain mostly unaltered, if adapted at all. I want to explore the manner in which John marked the land. Photographically, this initially entailed exploring sites (in and around Perth) that were established in an era of his omnipotent influence. Reaching other sites for photographic exploration involved making an approximate following of part of the route that John Forrest took in his 1869 expedition. Forrest's mission in 1869 was to discover the remains of Ludwig Leichhardt: mine was to discover understanding. He travelled over 2000 old-school miles through land that was mostly "unexplored" (by white men). Before my trip in September 2000, I believed that I would only get to make pilgrimage to a small fraction of these sites. But with a bit of luck, and with help from many others; my travelling mates and myself were able to access some tracts of land I originally thought would be impossible to experience. The Intense saturation of my pictures pushes them in to the realm of fantasy, and as they revisit one of the early non-Indigenous attempts to write the epic of our state, they therefore lend themselves readily to the notion that every nation is based in phantasm. The pictures tell a story, but the style of narration invokes a sense that this story is necessarily charged with a way of seeing (and that there are many other ways of seeing). The intense saturation of colour puts forth the idea that we must begin to tell the story of our nation differently. Historic events in Australia's “official” remembrances of the past are often only given one “true’ meaning. In reality, there are a vibrantly rich variety of vantage points from which to view the past, present and future; there are also numerous ways to understand what is “true”. When we deal with the landscape in image, we need to recognise that there is no sole expression of what is true. I portray this in my imagery by saturating the colours of the landscape. I wish to illustrate that experience and knowledge are things one must encounter for oneself, because this is the only way to realise the richness and vibrancy they have to offer.
Trotman, Z. J. (2002). John Forrest: Western Australia under the banyan tree. Retrieved from https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/351