Veteran snapper Stephen Blakeney airs new exhibition in Witchcliffe

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Photographer Stephen Blakeney's latest exhibition opens in Witchcliffe next weekend.
Camera IconPhotographer Stephen Blakeney's latest exhibition opens in Witchcliffe next weekend. Credit: Supplied

Veteran local photographer Stephen Blakeney unveils his latest exhibition of works next weekend at the restored historic Darnell’s Store in Witchcliffe.

Blakeney told the Times the past few years under the strain of COVID-19 had forced him to reflect on his career and reassess his love of life behind the lens.

Already known for his detailed portraiture works, with past exhibitions including a catalogue of local identities in the Rosa Brook area he calls home, for the latest outing titled Harbour in a Tempest, Blakeney said he was exploring how local landscapes reflected the spiritual and practical aspects of sanctuary.

“Covid, basically for the time being, has changed the way we live our lives,” he told the Times.

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“It has added an element of uncertainty to things we once took for granted, and for me personally to look more closely at my immediate surroundings.

“The other aspect of it is more personal, and is a statement on the brevity of life and our need to embrace the immediacy of it.

“I have drawn on my religious upbringing as a child, when the world for most children was a safe haven.”

Blakeney said he snapped local landscapes – “that many of us drive by without giving them a second glance” – as reference points and as signifiers of the positive and negative roles religion has played in society during history.

“The title, Harbour in a Tempest, refers to a safe haven in a time of turmoil and instability,” he said.

“This body of work is partially a response to that (COVID-19) and also a personal reflection on ageing, mortality and the ability of the human spirit to look for positives in the face of adversity.

“The work is not meant to be preachy or melancholy. I am merely observing, without judgment, a time-honoured tradition of spiritual survival, and attempting to combine the practical socialism of existence with a more esoteric spiritual one.”

Normally busy as a commercial photographer, for his latest showcase Blakeney said all the print production was done by himself in-house, ensuring the finished product was “personal and unique” to him.

Harbour in a Tempest starts next Saturday, July 30, and features 25 prints on fine-art photographic rag archival paper.

The exhibition runs Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm, until August 14 at Darnell’s Store on Redgate Road, Witchcliffe.

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