Interview: Saskia Littlewood

Rising Phoenix Studios young writer Keagan Belbin chats with Devonport artist & photographer Saskia Littlewood:

  1. Your photography/art has a very unique tone and voice to it, what ideologies lie behind your chosen style? 

My photography is mainly landscape-based though I’m not strictly a “landscape photographer”. I generally make images of what is around me, using my iPhone 6s.

I then “blend” my images on the phone using Apps. Sometimes I include plain images with these in a series, meaning I don’t adjust or filter them.

I aim to conceal or change the familiar. This is not to confuse people, but to bring about a certain level of recognition or of curiosity, and changing people’s perceptions of a place.

I use architectural elements and natural elements as symbols and metaphors. Historically landscape photography (and painting) can act as metaphors for human emotion and experience.

My work references this history but I’m using a relatively new way of creating and exhibiting photographs.

The technology itself is a part of my themes. I blend technique with the ideas/concepts. The techniques are part of and often transparent in the finished art work. I use contemporary and industrial materials to print my photographs onto.

  1.    You previous exhibition, ‘An Obscured Landscape’ was in October of last year, how do you feel now, about the work you put out? 

I feel really happy about the work I made for An Obscured Landscape. It was not only about landscape but trying to find a way to convey the idea of filters of consciousness and the landscape of Devonport. I wanted to make something very contemporary. It was a specific series of challenges to create that project, including working out how to enlarge the images to a big size, and to find a material to print onto which would highlight my ideas. I wanted the final images on the wall to look like lit iPhone screens.

  1.    You use an iPhone and iPad, rather than traditional cameras, for your pieces. What inspired you to choose this medium, and how do you feel it compares to the use of a camera, both in say its limitations and advantages? 

My training is in film and digital SLR photo-imaging, and the thing that inspired me to start making images with iPhone (I started with the 5), was that it was very versatile and easy to use. Everyone uses them everywhere, especially on and for social media. The iPhone6s I have now is bigger and heavier with a large screen, so that makes in camera editing easier. I enjoy how everything you need is in the one place, including emails, facebook, the net etc. I like taking selfies with the phone and thinking of ways I could use these in future. I don’t delete much, I back up my photos to USB because you never know how an image may inspire you later. The limitations are the aperture size and the related file size. But these are problems that I turned to my advantage.

  1.    What can you tell me about what you have planned for your next project for the triad 1 show?    

I shot my images for triad 1 in one day. This was the plan because I had a very specific theme, and I had a model. Also, it was a sunny day and rain was forecast for the rest of that week.

I focused on the skating scene in Devonport and went to the skate park, where I made mostly slow-motion videos. I then used my phone to create still images from these videos. These were then run through Video and Photo Apps.

For some reason the sculptural forms I found, both in the environment and in the figures and movements of the skaters, reminded me of a Giorgio de Chirico painting.

Slowing everything right down allowed me to capture some of the skating “in flight”, so it ended up being about Time and Space, as well as being an emotional experience.

I found some music which seemed to sync well with the resulting slides I made.

  1. The arts community in Tasmania, especially in the North West, is a small but passionate one. What advice would you have for budding Devonport artists, looking to find their own artistic voice?

My advice to other artists who may be emerging, is to aim to produce innovative work, and to narrow down beginning ideas to a single idea. Art isn’t prescriptive it’s better to start with simple ideas and build as you go. The original concept can become quite complex, just in the doing, then you need to re-evaluate as you go.

You need some computer skills in the digital environment. Time management for projects are critical I find. If it is for a gallery for example, there are deadlines to meet and communications to keep up.

Lastly, the techniques you use need to combine well or interestingly with your ideas. It’s no use having all of the ideas if they are not well-executed, and there’s a reason for using these techniques in the first place.

 

https://nolanart.com.au/exhibitions/obscured-landscape-saskia-littlewood/

 

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Tasmanian Fire Update

2015 was the hottest year in recorded history and Tasmania, unfortunately, has been hit hard by this extreme weather. Up to 50 wildfires have burned statewide, most in alpine and inaccessible areas. This had left the west coast including the Gordon River National park, central plateau and world heritage areas of the south affected badly. Approximately 40,000 hectares of heritage listed land has burned and put rare species of flora and fauna at risk of destruction. Thankfully no lives have been lost nor property, however, the damage to this unique ecosystem has been extensive and thorough. Fires close to populations centres have been put under control as weather conditions aided these areas. Glimpses of the charred and blackened landscapes Tasmania is so famous for having lush and green shows just how big a threat these fires pose.

 

Tyler Martin

The 2016 Devonport Triathlon

dev tri

In its 31st year, the Devonport Triathlon, one of Australia’s oldest championship triathlons will be held this month, at the Mersey Bluff. The event is open to all and will feature both a kids and community “tri it” triathlon races. It boasts some legendary star talent in the form of Emma Carney, Brad Beven, Loretta Harrop and Craig Walton.

The event will take place on Saturday the 20th and Sunday the 21st of February, with gates opening at 7 am.

For more information visit: http://www.devonporttriathlon.com.au/

 

Keagan Belbin

Human rights commission and Muslim Australians

A new report from the Australian Human Rights Commission has found that Muslim Australians suffer discrimination and abuse on a daily basis. Since the Lindt Cage siege last year communities say that the discrimination has been particularly noticeable. Research finds that the Racial Discrimination Act has only a limited ability to protect Muslim Australians because “religious identity” is not covered under the act.

Many claim hostile treatment towards Muslim Australians is impinging on people’s freedoms. There are reports that many Muslims were changing where they shopped, and that a group of Muslim musicians had cancelled a performance due to fears that they would be attacked on public transport.

The Human Rights Commission found that there is little distinction between religious and racial discrimination for many Muslims. “Being on the receiving end of anti-Muslim sentiment is often described in terms of racism.”

Despite this, the Racial Discrimination Act still only has limited ability to protect Muslim Australians because it only covers discrimination based on race, colour, ethnic or national origin, or immigrant status — not religion. This is different from the protection that is granted to Jewish Australians however, as the Federal Court has found that they have a common ethnic origin.

Mariam Veiszadeh, the founder of Islamophobia Register of Australia, said there had been an increase in reports of verbal and physical violence against Muslims since the group began tracking cases a year ago. The cases include attacks on Muslim women targeted for wearing Hijabs, Niqabs, and Burqas, assaults on public transport, online threats, property damage, and graffiti.

Australia has an extremely long history of racially fueled violence and hatred; often spurred on by propaganda spread by groups such as Reclaim Australia, and through the ignorance of politicians looking to widen the gap between Australians and immigrants.

Jakob Barrett

Prime Minister speaks about gender equality

Malcolm Turnbull’s ideal cabinet would be a 50-50 split of men and women, Mr. Turnbull remarked recently, following the new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gender-equal cabinet announcement on Wednesday night.

“This standard won’t be met in Australia until women have better representation in Australian politics,” Mr. Turnbull said on ABC radio on Thursday. “In an ideal world you would have 50-50 but we don’t have an even ratio of men and women in the Parliament. The fundamental problem at the root of the issue is this: there are not enough women in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.”

More parties need to be more proactive to encourage women to stand for pre-selection; Mr. Turnbull also pointed to the importance of female role models, whether they are politicians or sports stars. Women have long been under-represented in the media and politics as role models and because of the disparity in the number of men and women that lead our country.

Mr. Turnbull’s cabinet includes women in their respective roles for the first time in our country’s history including Marise Payne as the Defence Minister, and Kelly O’Dwyer as the Minister for Revenue, the Assistant Treasurer.

More still needs to be done better represent the minorities in Australia, including the members of the LGBT+ community, and members of racial groups such as Indigenous Australians.

Jakob Barrett

Stand up for childhood charity

mission

Mission Australia have renewed calls for support for their charity program, Stand Up for Childhood – a service that aims to help families of Australia suffering through homelessness. Their program is funded through monthly donations, which directly help those in need. For many Australians suffering through homelessness, any support is welcome. Last year Mission Australia helped 67,808 through their family services.

For more information, call Mission Australia on 1800 88 88 68 or visit their website at http://www.missionaustralia.com.au/childhood

Jakob Barrett

Sydney shooting labeled act of terrorism

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Saturday that the Muslim community should not be blamed for the actions of the 15-year-old boy who shot and killed a NSW police officer in Sydney’s west. The Prime Minister has labeled the incident in Parramatta as an act of terrorism.

“This appears to have been an act of politically-motivated violence so at this stage is appears to have been an act of terrorism,” Mr. Turnbull told reporters in Melbourne. “The Australian Muslim community will be especially appalled and shocked by this. As NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and the Premier Mike Baird have noted, we must not vilify or blame the entire Muslim community with the actions of what is, in truth, a very, very small percentage of violent extremist individuals.”

Mr. Turnbull has spoken to the director-general of security at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and Andrew Colvin; Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police about Friday’s shooting. The Prime Minister has also spoken with Attorney-General George Brandis about working on de-radicalisation programs for at-risk individuals, including vulnerable teens.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten agrees with Mr. Turnbull’s sentiments regarding any form of retribution towards the Muslim community, saying, “voices of division and disunity should not be allowed to dominate the national conversation”.

Jakob Barrett