Lochiel, South Australia, 2005 (detail). Photograph © Martin Mischkulnig
The wild landscapes of Australia are routinely described as desolate and forbidding… [yet] for all the talk of hostility and harshness, there is nothing so bleak and forbidding in country Australia as the places humans have built there… Tim Winton, 2009
Smalltown is a dialogue between photographer Martin Mischkulnig and author Tim Winton, travelling through out-of-the-way parts of Australia.
Mischkulnig’s spare yet beautiful photographs are distinctively Australian views of rural and remote places, evoking similar feelings to Winton’s novels. They challenge us to consider the people who live in these places, and their struggle to come to terms with harsh or isolated environments.
Smalltown does not romanticise the places it documents: the images are often disturbing for the built ugliness they reveal, and Tim Winton’s words provide compelling and probing ruminations on the nature of Australian rural life.
Mischkulnig’s own parents emigrated from Austria in the early 1960s and found themselves running small roadside motels. This project was inspired by his desire to retrace the formative years of his life and to probe the mystifying, existential reasons people choose to stay. His images are of remote settlements in Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
The exhibition Smalltown pairs Mischkulnig’s stunning large-format colour photography with words by Tim Winton. A book of the same name will be published by Hamish Hamilton-Penguin and launched with the exhibition in October 2009.
Geraldton-Greenough Regional Art Gallery | 15 October – 3 December 2010
Perth Maritime Museum | 10 December 2010 – 11 February 2011
The Painted Tree Gallery, Northcliffe | 25 February – 8 May 2011
The Vancouver Arts Centre, Albany | 14 May – 4 June 2011
Port Augusta Cultural Centre | 22 July – 20 August 2011
Keith Institute, Keith | 1 September – 31 October 2011
National Archives of Australia | 2 December 2011 – 12 February 2012
Civic Centre, Gunnedah | 3 April – 6 May 2012
New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale | 11 May – 5 August 2012
Liverpool Regional Museum | 17 August – 25 November 2012
Gold Coast City Art Gallery | 11 May – 16 June 2013
Note: All available spaces have been filled for this tour.