(Australia 1951 – )
a - Flattening pennies on the railway line; 9 x 9.3 cm; image
b - Water pistol fights at the fete; 9 x 9.3 cm; image
Sheet; 25.2 x 35.2 cm; sheet (irreg.)
In the 1980s Peter Charuk took photographs with a cheap Diana camera, creating deliberately blurred images. The colour bleeds and simple subject matter reflected the artist's desire to remember and capture fleeting images of childhood.
This series, ‘Visions of childhood’ – a hand-bound album of 12 paired black-and-white photo-etchings and the same images shown as diptychs on the wall – is representative of the period when Charuk was exploring photographic processes. As part of this experimentation he used a toy camera as a way to best encapsulate the events and images of childhood – merging form and content in an appropriate way, so that the photographs appear to have been taken from the viewpoint of a child. Like 'first efforts' – my first camera, my first photograph, the sort of memorabilia that ends up in scrapbooks and albums recording the past – the series has none of the sharp, adult ‘matter-of-fact' fullness one expects of documentary photography. Charuk used phrases to title each image, in this case 'Flattening pennies on the railway line' and 'Water pistol fights at the fete', however these lead to further imaginative extrapolations rather than providing any narrative explanation.
Peter Charuk was born in Sydney and studied photography and printmaking at Sydney College of the Arts. He has lectured extensively since the 1980s and currently works with digital and interactive media. ‘Visions of childhood’ was included in ‘Reconstructed vision: contemporary work with photography’ at the AGNSW in 1981.
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
George Alexander, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Tableaux - memento mori - screen culture', pg.313-335, Sydney, 2007, 317.
Ten years on, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Jan 1986–Jan 1986
Magical realism, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 18 Feb 2006–02 Apr 2006