Coastal woodland after fire I
Through changes in subject matter, the photography of Wesley Stacey maintains his determined interest in the immediacy of vision and new ways of observing and recording the landscape. Stacey worked originally as a graphic designer and photographer for both the ABC and the BBC, before commencing freelance photography in 1969. He photographed for POL amongst other magazines. He was instrumental with David Moore and others in setting up the Australian centre for Photography, Sydney before moving to the South Coast of NSW where he continues to live and work. He has photographed for the NSW Government on woodchipping in public forests and worked with Gubbo Ted Thomas and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies recording heritage sites.
Stacey's work from the 1970s embraces the sometimes blurred vision of the snapshot, including diverse sequences of photographs taken with an Instamatic camera that were often commercially processed. In later photographs of the bush, Stacey avoids the temptation to over-romanticise the landscape. Instead, his images record the environment, tall twisted trees, rocks, barren earth and the effects wrought by conditions such as fire. Rich textures and bright colours dominate the foregrounds, flattening some of the images like abstract canvases. As Gael Newton notes: ‘Any one site…can be seen to have aesthetic, historical and spiritual significance.’1 As Stacey himself says: ‘I study the subject of landscape picture making, the traditions, the visions, the heroes – and continue to have a go at making some for myself, oft wondering whence comes the drive to keep at it – and the function landscape pictures have in our culture.’2
1. Newton, G, 1991, ‘The photographs of Wesley Stacey’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra unpaginated
2. Wesley Stacey in Newton, G. ibid.
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
Fire aftermarth in coastal forest
type C photograph
30.7 x 45.2 cm
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. sheet, ink "Wesley Stacey '80".
Lady (Warwick) Fairfax Acquisition Fund 1984
Not on display
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Referenced in 3 publications
Bronwyn Clark-Coolee, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Not 'simply' anything', pg.266-287, Sydney, 2007, 284 (colour illus.).
Natasha Bullock, Australian postwar photodocumentary, Sydney, 2004. no catalogue numbers
What is this thing called photography?, Sydney, 1999. no catalogue numbers