Two Photography Studies College's Bachelor of Photography students, Joshua Oscar Smith and Eremaya Albrecht have been selected by the Monash Gallery of Art's (MGA) to exhibit in its 'Develop' exhibition. Only a handful of seven students with Bachelors Degrees in Melbourne have been chosen by the Gallery to showcase their work.
Read more about this exciting exhibition highlighting the city's high-calibre of photography, and the next generation of Australian photographers. We also have a Q&A with Josh, about his series 'Lignite' that will feature at the upcoming exhibit.
© Joshua Smith
'Develop' is MGA’s annual showcase of work by emerging photographic artists. The photographs included in this exhibition represent a small selection from the vast pool of high-calibre work that was produced by graduates of Bachelor Degrees in Melbourne in 2020.
With artists drawn from just five universities and across many styles and genres, this is a celebration of the next generation of Australian photographers.
PSC would like to congratulate Josh and Eremaya on this great achievement!
Josh majored in Photojournalism, and graduated from PSC's 'Class of 2020' ceremony held on campus in South Melbourne this month. His series called 'Lignite', examines ecology and place in the modern industrial landscape of the Latrobe Valley – a landscape which has been shaped by decades of environmental discourse and mistreatment due to the region’s extended coal mining history.
We ask Josh about his work below:
© Joshua Smith
PSC: What made you interested in documenting this topic?
JS: The topic in itself is something that we tackle on a daily basis – sometimes without even realising it. In the contemporary world we are all aware of or have at least heard of concepts such as global warming, the environmental impacts of mining, renewable energy – the list goes on. The main feature of the Latrobe Valley that allured me to create there was coming face to face with the coal mining industry and its colourful yet rather troubled history. I felt that these sceneries are something that most people in Australia don’t directly witness on a daily basis, and I was one of them. I saw it as an opportunity to both learn about a subject and create something meaningful in the process.
PSC: When did you start this project and tell us a bit about your photographic practice?
JS: I first started photographing the Latrobe Valley in the early months of 2019. The initial work I produced had a narrow focus on a particular town within the region and the nearby Yallourn Power Station. As the work continued, I decided that the project would work better when focussing on the wider region in addition to the natural spaces in between population centres and energy infrastructure. Shooting for the work continued until late 2020.
PSC: How did you select which areas you wanted to photograph?
JS: When choosing particular subject matters and locations, I relied heavily on being open minded and exploring the landscape. It was rare for me to have a list of planned locations as I would simply try and end up somewhere new whenever I was making work.
PSC: Did you interact with the local community?
Considering the work's ecological undertones, I wanted to refrain from photographing the population as much as possible. My goal with this was to capture the sentiment of the valley through its landscape and the intricacies within it that hinted at human discourse. It was a rather solitary way of making the work when I wasn’t at the local historical society or within a town.
PSC: Why did you choose to present your work as a series of black and white images?
JS: The initial work I was making actually consisted of primarily colour photographs – I later changed the visual language of the work to compliment the subject matter I was shooting. In my mind black and white simply allowed for a clearer and less distracting way of reading the work. Elements of the project were at times ominous so making colour photographs that sometimes conveyed a sense of idealism just didn’t mesh well with the vision of the project.
Image from left to right: Joshua Smith, Eremaya Albrecht and Claire Jellie at their PSG graduation ceremony this May.
PSC: Can you tell us about your experience at PSC?
JS: I would say the interaction we had with a wider community of photographers even during periods of isolation by means of Zoom was a great way of gaining insight and thinking outside of our immediate surroundings and network.
Kristian Häggblom (PSC's Photojournalism Lecturer) obviously has a very helpful network of friends and acquaintances within the industry, and it was a great experience being able to talk, share work and bounce ideas off them.
'Develop' will launch on Saturday 29 May from 2pm to 4pm at the MGA – runs until 11 July.
Portrait of Joshua Smith