Monthly Archives: June 2013

Two years after independence

It is two years since South Sudan gained its independence and became the worlds newest nation. As I prepare to fly out for South Sudan via Kenya once I have a visa, I cant help but wonder what changes will be noticeable.

South Sudan, officially the Republic of South Sudan is a landlocked country in east-central Africa. South Sudan split from Bashir’s Sudan two years ago following a referendum vote for independence under a peace deal that ended a 22-year civil war. Since independence relations between the Republic of South Sudan and Sudan have been strained particularly in relation to disputed territory along the border as well as ROSS oil export through Sudan.

Below are a few of my pictures from the independence celebrations in 2011.

A parade moves through Juba a day before the independence of South Sudan.

Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2011 All rights reserved. A parade moves through Juba a day before the independence of South Sudan.

 

 

Conor_Ashleigh_independence-web-3

Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2011 All rights reserved. A soldier stands at attention through the heat of the day on independence, July 9th 2011.

 

Conor_Ashleigh_independence-web-2
Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2011 All rights reserved. South Sudanese citizens at the official independence celebrations on July 9th 2011.

 

 

Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2011 All rights reserved. Members of the SPLA standing guard at independence celebrations in Juba, South Sudan.

 

 

Image Nation 2013 Photography Conference

 

Over the weekend I was in Auckland presenting my work at the Image Nation 2013 Photography Conference.  Over the two days of speakers I was impressed by the diversity and quality of photographers speaking, particularly considering our preference of photographs over words most the time. It was fascinating to learn about the individual paths taken by the range of photographers speaking, the three people whose work had the most impact include Alexia Sinclair, Lottie Hedley and Ingvar Kenne.

It is Ingvar Kenne’s work that has remained most etched in my mind after the conference and its definitely worth checking out his website here. Ingvar’s work presented at the conference focused initially on his commercial work but quickly shifted to a range of his personal projects . Ingvar’s two bodies of work I found most powerful were Citizen & Chasing Summer. Kenne’s most recent book Citizen won Australia’s photo book of the year earlier in 2013 and is also currently touring in exhibition form, next stop Brisbane.  Ingvar’s personal work presented was largely shot on medium format. On my morning flight back to Sydney I pondered how best to describe Ingvar’s work, this is the best I have; Ingvar’s portraits immerse the viewer in a sincere interaction with the subject whilst also offering a refreshing perspective of humans in their environment, primarily here in Australia.

Lottie Hedley is another speaker who left a real impression after her hour on stage, in the documentary world she is someone to watch out for. Lottie is a New Zealand documentary photographer who has only been shooting for a few years while her work is something one may expect from a practitioner with decades  of experience.  My favourite picture shown in Lotties presentation was one from an American barber series. A young boy midway through a haircut holds a powerful gaze with something out of frame. The barber has ‘seen boys become men’ to paraphrase Lottie as she spoke about the barber she documented for this project. You can stay tuned for her website update here.

Presenting at the Image Nation conference was a great chance for me to show a number of bodies of work including a multimedia piece from my Stories of the South project. Despite a technical glitch (projector falling asleep) I feel content with my presentation, although I could have used another 30 minutes! I return to South Sudan next week for my second trip and hopefully before the end of the year this work will finally be launched. Stay tuned for more on this work and in the meantime see below two pictures from the Australian arm of this project.

Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved. Members of the NSW chapter of the Sudan People's Liberation Army stand by the door at the 30th anniversary celebration of the SPLA in Western Sydney.

Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved. Members of the NSW chapter of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army stand by the door at the 30th anniversary celebration of the SPLA in Western Sydney.

 

Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved. Members of the Melbourne South Sudanese representative team listen to their coach before their grand final match against the team from Newcastle.

Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved. Members of the Melbourne South Sudanese representative team listen to their coach before their grand final match against the team from Newcastle.

Vanuatu, for a moment.

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a few albeit brief days in Vanuatu on assignment.

My time in Vanuatu on Malekula the second-largest island of Vanuatu at just over 2000 km2 with a population of approximately 30,000. Below are a few photographs from my first evening on the island of Malekula at an outdoor screening of Namatan 2013 Vanuatu short film festival. The 13 finalists were projected outside aTVET builing in Norsup, Malekula. As the films rolled through I made my way around ever growing crowd and took the following pictures.

 

A women nurses a sleeping baby while watching the finalists of the Namatan short film festival. Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved.

A women nurses a sleeping baby while watching the finalists of the Namatan short film festival. Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved.

 

A young boy watches a scary film from behind a plate.  Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved.

A young boy watches a scary film from behind a plate. Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved.

 

Teenagers from Norsup area watch the short films, finalists in 2013 Namatan short film festival.  Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved.

Teenagers from Norsup area watch the short films, finalists in 2013 Namatan short film festival. Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved.

 

A father and young daughter watch the short films, finalists in 2013 Namatan short film festival.  Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved.

A father and young daughter watch the short films, finalists in 2013 Namatan short film festival. Photo- Conor Ashleigh © 2013 All rights reserved.

While in town I was also able to spend some quality time with an Australian photojournalist I have always  been deeply inspired by, Ben Bohane. I will be writing on here in the near future about Ben’s soon to be launched  book ‘The Black Islands’, in the meantime you can check out some of his work here.

7seven on the walls

On Thursday 30th May the 7seven exhibition and multimedia documentary finally went live at Newcastle Museum. I strongly encourage Novocastrians to get down to the Newcastle Museum and check out the exhibition. For those who havent been to the Museum before give yourself a few hours to take it all in, you will be pleasantly inspired.

The seven stories delve into worlds within worlds of Newcastle. Newcastle beach culture, South Sudanese families and the parkour community are just some examples of what is being exhibited until the end of June. The Newcastle Herald published an article and great photo gallery which can be seen here. In addition to the physical exhibition my video documentary following the participants is also being screened in the museum and is now online here.

As the project facilitator I found the journey a deeply rewarding process. The two week intensive demanded a great level of commitment from the participants and I feel they all rose to the challenge. Below are three photographs from the 7seven group that I found particularly powerful.

The first picture is from Taliah Darcy-Shaw’s photo essay. Taliah at just 16 has developed a profound personal style and a unique visual aesthetic. Stay tuned for more from this young lady. I know there are good things to come.

Photo- Taliah Darcy-Shaw © 2013 All rights reserved. Caption: Joel Okumu more commonly known as King Joel stands in his lounge room wearing his favourite cap.

Photo- Taliah Darcy-Shaw © 2013 All rights reserved. Caption: Joel Okumu more commonly known as King Joel stands in his lounge room wearing his favourite cap.

A number of Owen’s pictures were particularly engaging but this frame introduces the viewer to some of the individual characters that work inside Newcastle’s harbour. Owen is planning to continue this project in the future but as an expecting Dad he will have to find time for more personal work in between paid gigs and changing nappies. You can view his website here.

Photo- Owen Hammond © 2013 All rights reserved. Caption: 6.Captain Aaron Henshaw updates the ships log as another bulk carrier is successfully navigated out of the harbour without incident.

Photo- Owen Hammond © 2013 All rights reserved. Caption: Captain Aaron Henshaw updates the ships log as another bulk carrier is successfully navigated out of the harbour without incident.

Bryce tells me he picked up his first camera not more than a year ago. Looking at Bryce’s final series its hard to believe he has developed such so quickly. Asides from teaching at a local highschool Bryce is also a parkour instructor, his natural rapport with his community is evident throughout his pictures.

Photo- Bryce Blackbeard © 2013 All rights reserved. Caption:Instructors and students balancing on beams.

Photo- Bryce Blackbeard © 2013 All rights reserved. Caption: Instructors and students balancing on beams.