05/06/14 – 28/06/14
Image: Graham and Lola, Cringila 2010
Portside consists of images taken in both Port Kembla and Australia’s ninth largest town, Wollongong. Wollongong is made up of many facets: a hub of industry, a tourist town, a mining region, a commercial centre. The postcard coastline parallels one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Australia. Blast furnace number 6 at the steelworks was closed even before the resources boom started to recede.
It was only after years of photographing elsewhere that Williams came back to document that which was closer to home. “You tend to document events, phenomena, things happening. One day I drove down the road to Port Kembla and ran into a close friend from early childhood who was now a shell of her former self. I decided to dedicate two days per week to photographing there and in suburbs nearby: my own terrain.”
As a photographer I’m always asking: what do surfaces say about what’s hidden behind them? The outer layer is intriguing because it can give clues as to the nature of the person beneath – but it’s also a decoy because (like a photograph) it’s only a surface and can mean next to nothing. What attracts me to making portraits is the brief and intense interaction that results in an image that speaks of the subject, the picture-taker; and sometimes, the place. In the end you can only try to perceive the complexity and consciousness beneath the outer layer – this is something that keeps us looking at photographs.
Tom Williams is based in Wollongong, NSW. His work has been exhibited in Australia, South East Asia and Latin America, including The Reportage Festival of Photojournalism (2006 and 2008), Foto Freo, The Angkor Photography Festival in Siem Reap, Cambodia, The CCP Documentary Photography Award (2007 and 2009), The Photography Room, Cross Projections, The Head On Photo Festival and Art & About (Sydney Life). In 2009 he was awarded the 7th CCP Documentary Photography Award for his series ‘Neighbourhood’. His works are held in both the collection of the State Library (NSW) and in private collections.
All images are archival pigment prints.
Edition of 12+1AP