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Journal #1

FLINT JOURNAL / ISSUE ONE / COVER IMAGE DAVID MAURICE SMITH


Welcome to

IMAGE ANDREAS SMETENA


Flint Journal


FLINT JOURNAL

Editors Note

Journal #1

Editors Note & Contributors

Flint Journal is a creative outlet from the team behind Flint Sydney.

It’s a chance to express our love for photography, film-making, art and culture.

Flint is a Sydney based production company who work within photography, film and content creation. We are a group of dedicated producers and artists who believe in telling stories with our work.

Enjoy the first issue of Flint Journal. We will be sharing our stories, our work and our passions with you every six months. Look out for Flint Journal Issue Two, it will be coming your way soon.

The Journal is a collaboration by our team of storytellers to do just that, tell stories. It showcases the passion that the Flint team have for their craft. Voicing their shared belief that pushing boundaries and exploring beyond commercial work is central to who they are as artists.

- Andrew Johnstone

This publication makes it possible for us to share our own stories and those of others that we find interesting.

FLINT JOURNAL / ISSUE ONE / PHOTOS DAVID MAURICE SMITH

Contributors Editor & Creative Director Andrew Johnstone Senior Writer Claire Stewart Publisher Tim Berriman Story Tellers Adrian Brown, Andreas Smetena, David Maurice Smith, Toby Dixon Contributing Artists Keld Helmer-Petersen, Michael Riley

Flint Sydney e | tim@flintsydney.com w | www.flintsydney.com p | +61 410 496 200 a | Unit 6, 17-21 Bowden street, Alexandria, NSW 2015

Flint Journal is published by Flint Sydney. Opinions published are not necessarily those of the editorial team or publisher. Copyright remains the sole responsibility of the provider. No reproduction of any content is allowed without permission.


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Contents

Contents Page 54 Passion and Passion Page 6 In The Open

Page 32 Keeping Relevant Page 60 Ngangkari Healers Page 10 OK...One...Two...Three...

Page 34 Navigable Body of Water

Page 16 Michael Riley

Page 68 Refugee Crisis: The Balkans

Page 42 Keld Helmer-Petersen Page 20 Dasher and Fisher

Page 74 300 Minutes, and Counting Page 46 A Night at The Speedway Page 28 David Maurice Smith

Page 76 The Salton Sea


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In The Open BY CLAIRE STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY ANDREAS SMETENA

In The Open


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Snapchat, Instagram Stories, 90 second Vimeo clips and the ever present 140 characters of a Twitter message dictate the way the world hears stories: short and sharp, high level messages often on big themes, but rarely with any tangible impact on the casual passer by. Creating something meaningful within that environment is a challenge. It’s why New Zealand based Gina Satterthwaite and photographer Andreas Smetana, both founders of Flint Sydney, created ‘In the Open’, a series of video portraits through which people to tell their stories direct to camera unaided, and equally, unhindered, by an interviewer. They have a working list of 50 diverse themes, all of which are topical and challenging but some will be more heavy than others. Satterthwaite quips that they probably shouldn’t have picked the most hard hitting issue first: sexual abuse. She realised it was an issue she wanted brought into the open after a visit the two friends made to a children’s home in South Africa. “I had these children talking to me about things that had happened to them, that no human should do to another human. In a way it was not what I was used to seeing on TV, which was either dramatised and overboard, or not talking about it at all.

“Here were these kids who told these stories but not as a victim. It was very much: here is my story, I own it, and I’m going to be an astronaut. They were incrediblly positive.” It’s that sense of ownership which they want to communicate through the series, because with ownership comes authentic storytelling. Originally the plan was for a documentary, but after more than 12 month’s consideration, the idea was stripped to its essence, Smetana says. “We decided to do interviews, keep them at this incredibly intimate, raw, simplistic stage. I don’t believe documentaries change anybody’s lives. But I realised the power is in the story of the person, that is what is mind changing. “It is so much more powerful than building a story about a theme. When you start a documentary, you have the arc, the beginning middle and end. “With this, there is no beginning or end, there is no arc. It is simply the story of a human being.”

Neither Satterthwaite nor Smetana are under the illusion the stories will be entertaining. Filmed without an interviewer to ease the conversation, and with direct eye contact through the camera the stories can be challenging to watch. But both believe old fashioned storytelling, done simply and directly fulfils that ongoing curiosity people have in hearing about other people. Smetana says it is yet to be seen whether people will have the attention span for this kind of material, but he is hopeful.


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“With (In The Open) there is no beginning or end, there is no arc. It is simply the story of a human being.”

In The Open


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“We aren’t putting it out for the three minute attention span,” he says. “We’re putting this out for people who are affected by it, or genuinely curious about it. “I think it’s really helpful listening to stories and most certainly I think it’s what’s missing in our society now. Stories don’t get told anymore from generation to generation.” In the Open sits within Flint in part due to the influence of Richard Branson’s B-Team, Derek Handley, who’s motto is putting people and planet alongside profit. Satterthwaite is a firm believer in that philosophy and wants to create companies that have social justice ingrained from the start, not just at the end, as a means to wipe their slate clean.

She says most people have the will to help push through social change, but don’t because they aren’t sure how to go about it. “This is about just showing people, to start a conversation. I want my teenage daughter to start having conversations about important, meaningful issues, we all should. “So this series of beautiful but challenging human stories can play a part in positive conversations that contribute to our society.” > www.flintsydney.com/in-the-open


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OK…One… Two…Three… BY ADRIAN BROWN

Photography was once a fine tuned craft. With the digital-age upon us, and having introduced the simplicity of a cameraphone and its myriad of filters, everyone appears as a roving photographer. But just because they are so accessible, an extension of one’s palm in fact, should we so constantly use them? Research published in Psychological Science in 2013 drew the conclusion that people had a worse memory for objects, and for specific object details, when they took photos of them. We draw our cameras, often mindlessly to capture a moment, to the point that we are missing what is happening right in front of us. We are not truly present!

OK…one…two…three…


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OK…one…two…three…


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Another reason for this blind shooting is to be identified as an actual, physical being somewhere (or at least to the onlinecommunity of virtual-anybody’s). Most of us have observed and in fact been a part of this i-Photographer-junket. There is now science-based evidence that proves, in some ways, it is a real condition, and it is not great. I have found myself documenting this recent human condition. As an observer, I am also able to ‘stir the pot’ a little whilst having fun with this modernday phenomena. The vast majority of the collection’s 200 shots were captured before the participants even knew what I was doing. In some cases, the sitter would spot me but not the shooter…. distinctly changing their shot: a questionable frown, a bout of laughter or profound blush of camera-shy… often for the better!

Something that struck me was the number of people who seemed to be physically in the photo but emotionally lost…. It was simply enough ‘proof ’ having their body there…sometimes faces covered…with no sign of happiness and mostly devoid of any emotion. Alternatively other sitter’s, are entirely the opposite and you can see the exuberance in their faces, their eyes sparkling and alert – I am here! Overall, I found that photos gave people a purpose when visiting a location, rather than focusing on the feeling that was evoked from the essence of the place itself. I’ve had fun with this project. It has involved fearlessness and a good serve of tenacity. Often, rather than just being an observer, I have found myself putting a smile on peoples ‘dials’ and adding to their experience. More often than not, I also ended up saving them from selfie-disasters by taking the photo for them … ensuring they looked like they were entirely there, in spirit.


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OK…one…two…three…


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Michael Riley

Michael Riley Michael Riley (1960-2004) was a Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi photographer and filmmaker whose conceptual and documentary photographs and films mark an important shift in contemporary Aboriginal art and socio-political cultural developments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. Riley created images which are now icons of Australian contemporary art. Flint Journal are honoured to showcase four images from Michael Riley’s A common place: Portraits of Moree Murries series courtesy of The Michael Riley Foundation. For more work and information visit: > www.thecommercialgallery.com

Glenn and son, 1990/2016


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Jag, 1990/2016

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The Drifter and The Crow (Trevor Cutmore and Herb Binge), 1990/2016

Michael Riley


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Kenny Copeland, 1990/2016

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Dasher and Fisher BY ADRIAN BROWN

Dasher and Fisher


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Shot this year Dasher and Fisher ticked all the boxes when it came to the type of projects I want to work on and the people I really want to work with. It was briefed into me by a calm creative genius who believed their main decision was to choose the right person for the job and that the rest will fall into place. I responded to the brief with: ‘ok…it’s going to be like Nick Cave was shooting portraits and landscapes!’. We agreed on a project price and off I went into the Tasmanian Wilderness for eight days. The project was for three types of Gin (Ocean, Mountain and Meadows) all of which contain amazing Tasmanian botanicals (pepper berry, wakame etc). The concoctions of each come from the dark recesses of the mind of one man… the distiller who, when is in his lab, is akin to a mad scientist character but wholesome family man during the day. I’m a whisky drinker for a good reason but drinking these Gin’s straight over ice blew me away and opened my mind to new taste possibilities. The landscape shots involved my trusty Arca Swiss 6x9 and the portraits involve old lenses and a sheet of perspex.


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Dasher and Fisher


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Dasher and Fisher


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Storytelling: BY CLAIRE STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY DAVID MAURICE SMITH

Storytelling: David Maurice Smith

Canadian born and raised, David Maurice Smith was going to be an athlete, but he became a social worker instead. Until, that is, he realised the best part of the job was talking to people and seeing the challenging situations people find themselves in, not the work itself. Art had been a passion, before the sport, so it was only natural he picked up a camera and became a documentary photographer. He never spent time in a newsroom, or as a staff photographer, and that choice has allowed him to indulge his preference for developing stories slowly. Like the story of Wilcannia, a remote NSW town he’s visited some 15 times in the past six years in what inadvertently became an ongoing project, and a personal interest.


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David Maurice Smith

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“It’s changed how I view a lot of issues based reporting because you think you have an idea of something, but the more time you’re able to invest in it, the more you realise there are so many other factors, and situations change.” His work has developed as a result, from the first time he went out, thinking it was a simple story about a harsh, indigenous town existing behind the eight-ball. “That’s all right in front of you so it’s pretty easy to document. Now, I’m more interested in balancing that with storytelling where you can actually allow viewers to feel a little part of themselves in something.


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“A lot of people wouldn’t have something in common with people in Wilcannia, except there are universal human values that exist whether you live in Turkmenistan or Central Australia or New York City. We all ultimately want the same things.” Maurice Smith says Canada and Australia share similar histories around their treatment of indigenous people, and their ongoing experience of trauma. It’s that interest which has led to a Pulitzer Foundation Grant which will fund his trip back to Canada, to a small town called Attawapiskat. It made the news, albeit briefly, earlier this year when the town declared a state of emergency after more than 100 people in it’s community of 2000 suicided, or attempted suicide over an eight month period. “I was reading about it and following it and as predicted there was this flash of attention, and then it just disappears and the media cycle moves on. There were opinion pieces but most of the reporting work was seemingly done from a journo at a desk in Toronto, ringing someone, and using stock imagery.”

Storytelling: David Maurice Smith

Like all of his projects, Maurice Smith’s focus will be on trying to put some cultural context around the crisis. “Who are these people, what do they do, what are their values?” He says the danger in reporting any type of crisis, but particularly large scale ones such as the recent refugee migration in Europe, is that the relatable stories - the ones that have the power to elicit some level of empathy from the viewer – are often lost amid the maelstrom of general crisis images. “So much reporting and coverage went on with the refugee crisis. Most of it wasn’t able to do anything except show this mass of people moving, as opposed to honing in on the personal stories about why a 21year old guy would leave his whole family, and leave his culture and disappear into uncertainty.” He suggests the risk with having a bombardment of images lacking any individual context is that the people involved become defined by the crisis surrounding them. On one level, that’s merely depersonalising; on another it verges into the territory of ‘poverty porn’.


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“the relatable stories that have the power to elicit some level of empathy – are lost amid the maelstrom of general crisis images”

Much has been written on the media’s exploitation of poverty, crisis and stereotypes to generate either sympathy (and therefore donations), or sell newspapers by surreptitiously appealing to the white, middle class “car-crash” interest in other people’s hardships.

He recounts the time he was trolled over a story on the Myanmar healthcare system. He published a picture of the arm of a clearly ill HIV positive Burmese man with an IV drip in it, purposely cropping the face out of it, even though the man was happy to be identified.

It’s a difficult path to tread, and almost everyone reporting on those situations will at some stage contemplate where the line falls between providing documentary insight into a crisis and exploiting the situation.

“It was a very confronting image. I was trolled for that by a guy on social media, who’s involved in HIV treatments over there. Maybe he’s right, I don’t know, but I guess the point is, poverty porn is in the eye of the beholder.

“I’ve been accused of creating poverty porn before,” Maurice Smith says. “Like a lot of things, I’d say it’s a spectrum. In general, some images will be clearly one end or the other but there’s a lot of things in between.”

“I know what qualifies as that for me, and I go by that guiding principle. A lot of it has to do with intention and I’m particularly aware of that when I’m editing: who’s going to see it, what’s the sequence, will the editor chose the most extreme ones?” Maurice Smith says.

In reality, he says, it is the individual viewer who decides what constitutes poverty porn, because one person sees something totally different to another.

“I have a lot of pictures on my hard-drive that will never see the light of day because of that.” > www.davidmauricesmith.com


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Keeping Relevant

Keeping Relevant BY ANDREW JOHNSTONE

Most professional photographers start taking photos for the same reason that everyone else does; to capture a moment. A family outing, camping in the bush, your mates out surfing, an overseas holiday. Normal, simple, snapshots. To an eventual professional taking those snapshots becomes an obsession, an extension of who they are. Never going anywhere without a camera, eyes constantly searching out a shot. If the talent is there the jobs start to come in, their passion becomes their profession and the dynamic, the why, changes. That change may be slight, they may still shoot as they did, but the output shifts to pleasing someone else. It may be a client, a community, a collective, or their peers but whichever it is the work has to adjust, as does the photographer. Fast forward years later, and that same professional can feel stagnant. The money, the business, the shmoozing, the grind, has taken it’s toll and that keen eyed young talent feels they have lost some of their passion. Wonders if they are still relevant. Begins doubting the why.

Professional photographers deal with this in many ways, but the most common are personal projects. No client, no job, no timeframe, just an idea and the desire to create. It allows exploration, pushes experimentation and brings back the artistic angle that a photographer begins with. It generally fulfills them in a way that their commercial work never will. It’s just them, their heart, their head and their talent working in unison. We asked the photographers featured in this issue of Flint Journal to give us their thoughts on the importance of passion projects and how they stay relevant in an ever changing industry...

Adrian Brown “I think in today’s crazy market where the punters have even more control over whether they look at an advertisement or not, there should be little difference between commercial and personal work. To stand out work needs to be unique and not look like an ad or it will get flicked past. I read and observe everything I can and watch how people, including myself as a ‘punter’ interact with today’s media choices. I also hire a millennial or two as consultants to keep me on the leading edge of what’s actually happening.”


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Andreas Smetena “My life and my job are completely intertwined and all consuming and as I’m getting older my tastes have changed. A large part of my job is staying relevant and doing great work and that means, besides hard work and all the technical aspects, working on staying happy, engaged and generally interested. Personal work and exhibition work fulfill me in ways commercial work never will.”

David Maurice Smith “Ultimately it comes down to how you measure relevance I suppose. There would be very different ways of looking at that. For me, relevance is directly correlated to how I feel about the work I am creating, how inspired I feel when creating it. If I am creatively motivated and behind the work, then I know it will find the relevance it deserves. Impassioned work always finds it’s mark and creates outcomes. The only way I really know how to stay relevant is to shoot work that I find meaningful and feel proud standing behind. Like will always attract like…”

Toby Dixon “Shooting personal work has always been a way for me to explore new avenues and keep inspired. It’s a place where I can just let the image happen without any preconceived ideas and work in a reactive and fluid way. When I’m shooting for clients it’s completely different, as I’m fulfilling a specific requirement, so in my own time it’s vital for me to experiment and just enjoy it. I began to shoot motion about six years ago when i realised there was huge potential in expanding my offering as a commercial photographer. I saw that media was changing at a pace like never before and it frightened a lot of people within the industry. Now I shoot a print campaign that’ll go out in many different formats, some with moving elements or a brand film that’ll appear on TV, online, on a petrol pump - all in the same shoot! It requires a lot more forethought and planning, but in the end it’s made my skill set more relevant and my job more interesting.”


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Navigable body of water


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Navigable Body of Water BY ANDREAS SMETENA

Being keen to spend as much time as possible on my sailboat I started work on this on-going series of one of the most amazing spots in Sydney. The area around Smith Creek is soulful, deep and quiet. It’s hard to believe that this incredibly beautiful area is sitting there, on the outskirts of Sydney, mainly on its own midweek, not looked at, not marvelled at. It is too beautiful a place not be used and in the same breath too special to use. A classic dilemma. While I do spend nights on the boat I never ever lose the feeling of respect for this ancient area. I simply love this space deeply.


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Navigable body of water


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Navigable body of water


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Navigable body of water


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Keld Helmer-Petersen

Keld HelmerPetersen BY CLAIRE STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY KELD HELMER-PETERSEN

Google the name Keld HelmerPetersen and you’ll likely get a raft of shopping sites for his seminal 1948 tome 122 Farvefotografier, and numerous references to him being the pioneer of colour photography. Ask locally, though, and the most you’ll get is a raised eyebrow. The State Library of NSW has nothing, the Art Gallery of NSW, and the National Gallery have curator’s who know the name, and little more. Yet he’s famous, very famous in some places. Sort of, but not really. What we know, patched together from old magazine articles, and the back catalogue of his work is that Helmer-Petersen was as an art photographer first and an architectural photographer later, as well as a lecturer in Architecture and a tangential student of the German Bauhaus movement. But what does that mean for his pictures?


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Born into the art deco era of 1920’s Denmark, and given a Leica IIIc 18 years later as Europe began its descent in to war, Helmer-Petersen wandered the streets of Copenhagen absorbing the shapes and colour of the city’s structures.

“He’s the best photographer you’ve never heard of ”

While working in a local bookshop, he used his spare time to photograph a fire hydrant, an Arne Jacobson-designed gas station in Skovshoven, a door knob, slabs of granite, and the autumn colours of a vine climbing a brick wall. By stripping images of context, flattening perspective and treating colour itself as form, he brought a vibrancy and mysticism to industrial objects and staid, run of the mill architecture. “I thought it was a challenge,” he has said of the move away from black and white film. “All of a sudden there was colour on the market; German transparencies were all you could get during the occupation. So I thought, what can you do with it? To what extent can I carry out my interest in form and composition?

His self financed photobook 122 Colour Photographs, was little known outside Sweden and Denmark, until it fell on the desk of Life Magazine picture editor Wilson Hicks. He promptly published a 7-page spread “Camera Abstractions”, almost unheard of in a magazine known for its photojournalism, not its art.

“It was a different way of thinking: in black and white you thought in terms of contrast, the way the light was the primary motivation. In colour, it was the way that you set the colours together. You had to rethink the whole business.”

The exposure changed his life, netting a scholarship to travel to New York, and study at the Chicago Institute of Design, established serendipitously, by Bauhaus founder László Moholy-Nagy who had escaped Europe in 1937.

It’s this use of colour that makes him internationally noteworthy. Three decades before American’s William Eggleston and Stephen Shore – who are generally attributed with being the first to use and master colour – a young Helmer-Petersen was doing it quietly in Northern Europe.

“It was very polluted, so much smoke in the air all the time. But you had this light grey quality, a bleak, white sky that gave you an immediate feeling that all was in silhouette. To me it was quite a gift to get the silhouettes: there were enormous possibilities for these images.”

“It was so different from the sea air and blue skies in Copenhagen,” HelmerPetersen said of Chicago.


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Keld Helmer-Petersen

His images, and thinking, reflect what attracted him to Bauhaus in the first place – the simplicity and emphasis on abstraction was intriguing to him and he found himself getting rid of superfluous detail, “cleaning up, if you like.” By all accounts, he shunned the airs and graces which other important photographers sometimes manifested, so it’s no surprise he regretted including images of people in his photobook. He felt they perhaps evoked a sentimentality which spoiled the feel of the other clean, modernist images of place and structure. In his introduction to the photobook he wrote: “The pictures aim at illustrating nothing whatever beyond the fact that we are surrounded by many beautiful and exciting things, and that there can be a great deal of pleasure in spotting them and capturing their beauty by means of color photography.” More simply, he said: “I don’t want my pictures to ‘look like something.’ They should just look like pictures.” Returning to Copenhagen, he worked mostly in black and white as an architectural photographer until his death in 2013,

and spent many years lecturing in form and photography and the Royal School of Architecture. He moved in progressive circles with wife Birthe a television writer and director, and had “extra-ordinarily wide ranging interest and human understanding,’ according to close friend, theoretical physicist and essayist John Scales Avery.


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Together he and Scales wrote a 1982 pamphlet addressing peace, economic development and international relations, illustrated loosely with very un-HelmerPetersen images of human chaos. Little more than that can be garnered on the man who Magnum photographer Martin Parr describes as a revolutionary. First editions of his books are increasingly valuable, after Parr triggered a resurgence in 2005, curating an exhibition of his work at the Rencontres d’Arles festival in France which piqued interest from galleries and

publishers in London, using the handful of Agfacolor slides which still exist from the six years of work after 1941 recorded in the photobook. Those, like recognition of the man himself, are fading. As British writer Mark Sinclair so elegantly put it, “he’s the best photographer you’ve never heard of ”.


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A Night at The Speedway BY TOBY DIXON

A Night at The Speedway

Sometimes you’ve just got to get out of the humdrum and head to a place where the earth rumbles under a charging herd of high octane 950 horse-power engines, creating a nuclear-like dust storm that makes Mad Max feel like The Sound of Music. It’s a place where you breathe Methanol fumes as if it were fresh air and witness swagger like you’ve never seen. Conveniently, it’s also the place where you get a Dagwood Dog and a Chiko Roll for under a tenner (non organic variety). There’s only one destination left on this entire planet where these sort of dreams can be realised – Valvolene Raceway in Sydney’s West.


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A Night at The Speedway


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A Night at The Speedway


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A Night at The Speedway


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Passion and Passion: A transparent view of man

Passion and Passion BY ANDREAS SMETENA

These images were taken from Andreas’s first exhibition in 14 years, shot over 12 months around Australia. Passion and Passion is a deeply human series of images and explores the duality of longing and suffering, and the appetite of desire. The glass case encloses the form of the human stance of embrace and also of suffering, of bearing one’s cross. By placing the subject inside the cross, they become ‘of ’ the symbol rather than attached to it.

Essentially humankind is consumed by embracing life or desire or both. Andreas’ images allow an intimate examination of life poised both to embrace, and to stand vulnerable and exposed at the same time. Passion as suffering, passion as embrace.


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Ngangkari Healers

BY DAVID MAURICE SMITH

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The Ngangkari are traditional Aboriginal healers from the central region of Australia who use ancient practices of hands-onhealing and bush medicine. These wise women carry a lineage of healers passed through many, many generations. Their ancestors were successfully responsible for maintaining the physical, spiritual and emotional well-being of their people in a harsh and unforgiving natural environment, long before the introduction of Western medicine. Thankfully their skills are being brought back to the forefront and integrated into modern medical practices in their communities, allowing an approach that caters to the spiritual needs so important to many Aboriginal people.

Ngangkari Healers

Stories like this one need to be approached with an understanding of historical context: The richness and complexity of Aboriginal culture has been systematically shunned by mainstream Australian society since the day British ships landed here. So much knowledge and culture has been lost through stolen generations and inconceivable levels of adversity. Even today, there still exists a fundamental lack of respect for the traditions, laws and knowledge of Aboriginal people, incredibly complex systems that kept the oldest continuous living cultural group in the world in order for thousands of years.


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Refugee Crisis: The Balkans BY DAVID MAURICE SMITH

Refugee Crisis: The Balkans


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With an estimated 60 million people displaced globally by conflict and persecution in 2015, more people than at any other time since records began are fleeing their homes and seeking refuge and safety elsewhere. In a determined attempt to reach Western Europe, the Balkan route through eastern Europe has become an unofficial route for millions of desperate

asylum seekers. While desperation drives them to take enormous risks in search of a better life, resentment and fear on the part of European governments have left many men, women and children in limbo, at risk of further danger sand exploitation from human smugglers. This series was created in September of 2015 as pressure built on the EU countries and their neighbours to create a solution for the growing Refugee Crisis.


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Refugee Crisis: The Balkans


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300 minutes, and counting

300 Minutes, and Counting BY CLAIRE STEWART

Every time you see a grainy news report on a suicide attack somewhere in the amorphous Middle East, where collapsed buildings shadow images of men piggybacking the wounded across dirt roads to waiting ambulances, there’s another side to the story. Not so long ago, I ventured to Afghanistan, determined to find what makes the country tick: the stories about the famous icecream sellers, the fairground at the lake outside Kabul, the sports teams. And sadly, what was then the worst suicide attack against civilians for some time. This is an abridged account of what you don’t see on the news; the hours of standing in the dark and the cold, boredom and anxiety playing hacky-sack with your adrenaline levels. Let’s begin in the rightful place...

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It’s a snip past 7:15 in the evening and I’m absently pondering possibilities for dinner. From the corner of my consciousness I feel a bomb explode. It takes a beat or two to properly register. My heart rate jumps, but still it’s quiet and warm in the room and there have been other innocuous bombings on and off since we arrived. Then gunfire rattles out. Now that’s something different; something big. I’m off the bed and opening the window, thinking it’s got to be the fastest way to cop a stray bullet to the head, peering out into the dark scanning for signs of tracers or violence. The guesthouse manager tells us to get back inside. I smile politely. We’ll be right, sounds fine. But it’s not. There’s a new wave of gunfire.

> 300 minutes, and counting can be read in its full version at - sandpitsandsausages.wordpress.com

18

Minutes

We’re scanning Twitter, excitement levels peaking. It seems the populace knows little more than we do. At last, confirmation it’s at a restaurant in the suburb next door. We call a cab. The driver is completely unfazed. I wonder how many times he’s transported journalists to the midst of crises. There must have been a congregation of private taxis at the checkpoint, like the congregation of press we eventually morph with. Do they stop for a chat together, a gossip, a gander, like we all do? I pull out the blue paper Foreign Ministryissued press card, and shove it deep into my jacket pocket, barreling past the first trucks and straggle of men blocking the street. They don’t raise any eyebrow at the Westerners navigating the shadowy, potholed street in an attempt to get closer to the action, not that we have any clue about what that action might be.

33

Minutes

I’ve run out of credit on my phone and if there’s a time you need it, it’s now. I kick myself and leave the pack of young police officers I have been loitering amongst. It’s a considered move because they were providing me human shelter as close to the front line as anyone could get, next to the huge police truck with mounted machine gun, and near the guy holding the RPG.


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“Don’t worry Miss”, a young guy tells me in his broken English. “If anything happens the Police Chief said he will put you in his car personally.” I look to my left and a shortish, greying man with a stout hat and shiny lapels is grinning up eagerly. I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather brave whatever was in store on the street.

34

Minutes

A woman and her daughter are doubled over, using an open car door on their white Corolla for support. She is wailing, the daughter is dumbstruck. Two boys hold them by the shoulders. They were on their way to the restaurant when the attack happened. Their family is inside, our driver tells me as I look around the carpark for the usual boys selling phone credit tickets. I decide to run back and tell the photographer. There are no other journalists around. Here is an image of the human side of this disaster, an immediate reaction, unchecked emotions. I hate myself as I run back to get him, but I don’t stop.

46

Minutes

Pushing amid the police pack again, in the light I see them supporting a man, face bloodied, weak kneed, stunned. Is he a bomber, is he a civilian, was he in the restaurant? I have no Dari, and no idea. The language barrier makes me want to scream. As he turns, his back catches the glare of a TV camera. It is torn apart, flaps creating shadows like the scales on a fish. It takes a moment to realise it’s the beige lining of his brown leather jacket, not his skin.

115 188 Minutes

Still no clarity on fatalities. Complaints about not being able to get closer are met with news that in fact, the police aren’t entirely convinced the area is clear of attackers. A British reporter with an equal dose of humour and skepticism is standing next to me in a fox fur hat and white shirt, smoking a cigarette.

Much of the press contingent have come from parties, or dinners out at other restaurants with similar security provisions as the one that just got hit. ‘God it’s freezing,’ she says. ‘I think I’ll go home and put a hip flask in my grab bag for next time’.

175

Minutes

I’ve ducked round the block away from the press pack and been corralled into a discussion about whether I would possibly consider being the girlfriend of one of the police men we are standing with. His friend is translating, and I get the feeling he is taking liberties: Obviously if I wanted to, I could be his second wife, he says. But I’d already declined so he’d suggested friend, with a view to upgrading. It wouldn’t be the first time over the evening that a bored cop would make the effort to flirt, via a translator. Here we were, dealing with the big issues.

Minutes

Boredom has well and truly taken root. We’ve been watching people wander about seemingly aimlessly for quite some time. We aren’t getting any new information and we aren’t being allowed any closer to the blast site. Almost instantly that changes. There’s a young female Afghan photographer standing in close proximity, and the police chief points to her and motions her down the street towards the restaurant. It’s a way in, and we tag along. Ultimately it’s too dark to see much and even the police chief ’s power is guzumped by the national security boys when we get close. I see a guy with a video camera and I protest that if he’s allowed in, we should be too. Turns out he’s local forensics filming a dead body lying on the other side of the car we’re standing next to. Oh right. We all laugh awkwardly. Not a news camera at all.

300

Minutes

Back home, in bed.

I’m half conscious that my pillow is damp with angry, quiet, tears. Adrenaline is seeping out and the impact of the chaos, so invigorating only a few hours earlier, has taken its toll. I wont sleep for a few hours yet. Imaginings of what it would have been like inside the restaurant keep swirling, making me feel physically sick. It dawns on me that those gunshots we heard, they were killing people. I’m not sure why that seems like a revelation, but it is.


FLINT JOURNAL

The Salton Sea BY TOBY DIXON

The Salton Sea in Southern California is a man-made mistake. It was created in 1905 when engineers attempted to increase the water flow to neighbouring farms from the Colorado River. The canal walls broke and flowed onto the flat plain for two years creating the largest lake of the entire state. Developers tried to turn the disaster into the ‘Riviera of California‘ by building holiday houses, motels and water skiing ramps but things never really took off. These days, it’s high level of salinity and pollution make it a decaying, stinking wasteland almost uninhabitable, except for a few locals and bird species unlucky enough to call this place home. I hung out there for a bit to see the sights and discover why a man would ever need to walk around armed with a tomahawk, a machete, a hammer and a fly-swatter at seven in the morning.

The Salton Sea


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The Salton Sea


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The Salton Sea


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We hope you enjoyed

IMAGE ADRIAN BROWN


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