In the two years since my last book, Outback Dusk, was released, I took some time out to travel and refresh my creative voice. I have continued shooting, travelling to some great locations, and found I had accumulated a large library of new work. I have divided some of this into the two new photographic collections. I’ve been sitting patiently and quietly at my desk, ( well, sometimes chatting to myself and singing), and editing for what feels like an eternity, but has actually been about nine months. Now I am happy to offer the books up for previewing and sale.
Because of an appreciative following by you all, I have a reliable track record of self-publishing popular and well-recieved books, having produced and distributed worldwide twelve similar large format collections of my work since 2004. For those familiar with my books, they will be similar in style and look to my previous books. Each will be a quality, dust-jacketed, hardcover, large format book, of one hundred and eighty pages of my male nudes and portraits.
This time around, I have decided offer everyone the opportunity to order discounted and signed copies of these first two books of a new LARRIKIN series, through my very first Kickstarter campaign. This will enable me to self-publish both books in the next few months, the first to be delivered before the end of this year, and the second by March 2017. The first book is actually already at the printers in Italy, and the second is being laid out as we speak.
I've also been busily making two short films in order to introduce a preview of the books and to talk about the work and some of the inspiration behind it.
The word Larrikin is probably only familiar to Australians. I explain the word in an introduction in the first book, and how it in so many ways conveys my male aesthetic, since it basically refers to a man of free spirit, a bit rebellious and questioning of standards and mores. The introduction, which I hope people will find interesting, also explores the origins of this aesthetic, my childhood and early loves and influences.
The first book, titled simply LARRIKIN, could have been called OUTBACK LARRIKIN, since it has been photographed in diverse, largely outdoor and rural locations, on vast farming plains, amongst fertile hills and rocky mountains, and along slow winding rivers and bubbling desert streams. Some of it was shot in California, so strictly speaking, not the outback.
The second book , LARRIKIN YAKKA, is photographed in several countries in Europe, North America and Australia. The word yakka is another Australian word, meaning hard work. LARRIKIN YAKKA is a photo essay on the blue collar man. It expands upon the themes of my earlier book BONDI WORK, but is much more varied and rural, and includes a strong Classical flavour, particularly a series shot on location in Italy. (This book represents a determination to expand my repertoire of international locations.)
There is something honest and at the same time naïve about male strength and beauty captured around basic and constructive tasks. Sometimes, in my eulogising, the worker is oblivious to his beauty, unselfconsciousand therefore exuding nonchalant innocence , other times overt and buoyant , cheeky and unsophisticated in his confidence. Either way there is a rawness and sensuality I find within this genre that exemplifies true sensual masculinity, and a kind not so revered in a consumer society that tends to sanitise and neaten or 'perfect' rough bestial edges. I recreate them into my own romanticised vision which reflects the awe in which I held this kind of larrikin man, growing up. It’s a subject I am continually drawn to explore, probably in much the same way a writer or poet might eulogise the working man in writing, I like to visually idealise him .
Those of you who have collected my work from the beginning will know that my work has evolved and matured in many ways over the years and I have become more confident of my own photographic voice. In the beginning I emulated those masters of photography whose work inspired or moved me emotionally as well as visually. I was careful and reverential as I re-interpreted and imbued my work with something of my own. Slowly over time I grew confident about expressing what was intrinsic to me, and learned to trust my own instincts and to explore those much more.
The book world has just been through its biggest revolution since the invention of the printing press, and this applies in particular to the publishing of books such as mine, that contain what is still considered, in most countries, a controversial subject, the fully naked male. Even in free societies, where specialty books stores have closed in large numbers, and sales rely ever more on on-line marketing and shopping, the exposure people have to liberal publications in public places has diminished. The real world is getting restrictive, while so much content is now made available to people on the internet, free of charge, often by blatant theft and disregard of artist copyright. Within this new paradigm, it has become more important for me to reach out to everyone online as a way of sustaining my art and of continuing to produce and publish it in a form that is collectible and presents the work in coherent visual essays, in proper and respectful context.
The world in general is very censorious when it comes to the male nude. Rapid change and globalisation, from my perspective at least, is often regressive rather than progressive. For all the faults you may perceive of our societies, the liberal democracies, there has never been a safer place to explore our personal freedoms and we should cherish and be prepared to defend them. In some ways I feel as though I’m on the front line of change, being challenged and pushed at every turn.I think it’s more important than ever to hold onto the precious liberal values such as freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
I feel personally my work has a political statement attached, a kind of defiance and insistence about the place the male nude should have in mainstream art, but which is continually, and more so today, being denied it. We as humans revere and cherish beauty in all other things.
By embracing this art form, we ensure a greater maturation of our civilisation, a normalising of appreciation for the beautiful male form, and a victory for feminism against patriarchal controls. We are in danger of falling back into a world in which heterosexual males dominate and command females and their sensuality. My work is not just for gay men but for women and for all who appreciate the natural beauty of the human form. I don’t make my work strongly sexual one way of the other but make it personal and therefore part of a universal story.