Trent Parke is an Australian photographer, born in Newcastle NSW, but now calls Adelaide home. He has created numerous photography books and his photographs are held in numerous public and private collections. He exhibited most recently as part of the Dark Heart exhibition at the Art Gallery of SA.
The Black Rose exhibition presents a huge display of an artists work. Trent acknowledges it was seven years in the making and that there were times when he hit a wall and needed the encouragement of others, plus a hard deadline to finish it. If it can be described that the Black Rose exhibition is finished, more like an ongoing discovery of where photographic images can take you.
The Black Rose The title of this exhibition is taken from a chance meeting of the artist and a stranger at a motel. An encounter that happened after a long car journey with his family, following a search for a place to stay. This encounter started with a sighting of a leaping black cat, which Trent related to the opening night audience at the Art gallery of SA., a photograph he failed to capture. It then transpired he was offered a cutting of the black rose, which was growing at the motel. A rose he had not noted initially when he arrived. He went on to strike the cutting and discover it's meaning, which led to revelations in his own life. Touchingly Trent gave cuttings of the Black Rose to his family and key gallery members at this opening speech.
Dark dreams The Black Rose exhibition is full of dark dreams. These are related on walls throughout the exhibition in words the startling images. Trent Parke relates that rarely are his images just about an object of landscape or an animal. These images go beyond the ordinary in the way they are portrayed. This ability to inspire the viewer to search out other meanings is the mark of a great photographer.
Dark Rooms The visitor to the Black Rose exhibition is led into a series of very dark rooms. This is achieved by the backdrop of walls that are painted jet black. Also by heavy black curtains that screen out light. The images then take on their own luminosity, a somewhat ghostly journey.
A variety of media is used throughout. Almost the entire exhibition utilises the artists preferred method of black and white photography. In addition to animations, moving-image works, handmade books and photo cards.
The Black Rose exhbition can be described as a look into someone's personal journal. In this case the journal exposes the traumatic death of the artists mother when he was aged only twelve, which has led to a long processing of this tragic loss.
This is an exhibition of huge installations, whole walls of sunrises and sunsets. Big walls of confronting images of decaying animals. Intimate images of the artist's family, interspersed with pictures he has taken from long ago childhood days. There is a yearning to capture moments that have been lost. But can they be recaptured? All our childhood frames and snapshots will blur and fracture. Different memories arise. This is a fascinating process to see emerging via the art of Trent Parke.
Trent Parke is also the first artist to take on the additional role of designing the Studio space for children at the gallery. Children can create their own Black Rose inspired art works with a variety of media, including a photocopier.
The Black Rose exhbition shows this artist has a deep love for the art of photography. He is the only Australian artist to be a member of the prestigious Magnum Photo Agency. The methods of photography have undergone a major reframe in the last ten years or so, with the industry now largely digital. But here we see in the final scenes of the exhibition, a walkway of light and film lining the corridor. It is a homage to all that is part of the process of developing film. something that Trent Parke is a fine exponent of. Another seminal part of the exhibition, which saw viewers transfixed, was a dark room tray with liquid under which saw a changing array of images gradually opening up. This is not an instant format, but one that opens up slowly.
Trent Parke: The Black Rose is a free exhibition. It is on from March 14th until May 10th. There is a program of talks and tours. Further info on the exhibitions available here
Associated events include Departure an after-dark event on May 8.
Plus the Studio children's area with Black Rose themed activities.