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The Black Rose Contemporary Art Exhibition

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by Jenny Esots (subscribe)
A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
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Dark Visions
The Black Rose is a photographic exhibition currently showing at the Art Gallery of SA. It presents contemporary art at its finest. It shines a light at the world through the eyes of Trent Parke.

Trent Parke, Australia, born 1971, Limestone Coast, South Australia, 2007,  Trent Parke/Magnum Photos
Trent Parke, Australia, born 1971, Limestone Coast, South Australia, 2007, Trent Parke/Magnum Photos


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.

Trent Parke, Australia, born 1971 , Cockatoo backyard, Newcastle 2011  Trent Parke/Magnum Photos
Trent Parke, Australia, born 1971 , Cockatoo backyard, Newcastle 2011 Trent Parke/Magnum Photos


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.

Trent Parke The Black Rose exhibition
Trent Parke The Black Rose exhibition


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.

Trent Parke The Black Rose exhibition
Trent Parke The Black Rose exhibition


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.

Trent Parke The Black Rose exhibition
Trent Parke The Black Rose exhibition


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.

Trent Parke The Black Rose exhibition
Trent Parke The Black Rose exhibition


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.

Trent Parke, Australia, born 1971, Cemetery, Adelaide, 2007,  Trent Parke/Magnum Photos
Trent Parke, Australia, born 1971, Cemetery, Adelaide, 2007, Trent Parke/Magnum Photos


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.

Trent Parke The Black Rose exhibition
Trent Parke The Black Rose exhibition


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.

The light corridor of film
The light corridor of film


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 Studio
The Studio


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 dark room tray image
Trent Parke dark room tray image


The Black Rose will open up inside you, but will definitely take several viewings to absorb. Don't miss this opportunity to see the art of photography, dreams and memoir take centre stage.

Dreams on Film
Dreams on Film


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.
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Why? Photographic art at its finest
When: March 14th until May 10th
Where: Art gallery of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Snap! I have just finished my article on this exhibition too - excellent isn't it?
by Paula McManus (score: 3|3431) 1732 days ago
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