Australia Portfolio

Clearing cloud on Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island – 1981

David Moore’s early 1940s images of the Sydney waterfront were moody, lyrical and romantic. By contrast, the city itself appeared as pure drama, its colonial architecture expressive of bold structural elements which dwarfed the crowds at street level. These were photographs whose impact would have been lost without the use of black and white film. The latter was Moore’s preferred medium for most of his working life, a passion sparked at 18 when his father came home with Edward Weston’s photographs of California and the American West.

A memorable early image was Redfern Interior, selected for the Family of Man exhibition. A photographic essay on the P&O liner Himalaya in Sydney Harbour, stowed in his baggage when Moore sailed on the Oronsay to London in 1951, gained him his first publicity abroad in The Sphere magazine. Back on home ground in 1958 he worked on assignment for Life Books, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, National Geographic and Picture Post, producing, among many, stories on rural life, the Pitjantjatjara community, the building of the Sydney Opera House, the Christo wrapping of Little Bay, portraits of artists, and news scoops like the definitive moment of Harold Holt seeming to pay obeisance to Lyndon Johnson.

At the same time Moore was building a body of private work which included a collaboration with architect Philip Cox on functional and/or vernacular architecture; a publication celebrating New England; a comprehensive look at Sydney Harbour, with text by Rodney Hall; a book covering the building over three years of the Glebe Island, now Anzac, Bridge; and a book of landscapes titled Australian Place, also with text by Rodney Hall. In these last three volumes there are a surprising number of images in colour.

Schooled and dedicated as he was in the tradition of the black and white master photographers, Moore was ambivalent about colour. Writing on the question of colour in the preface to volume 2 of David Moore: Australian Photographer, he says: ‘Too much colour can dull the senses and full colour imagery is often just too pretty for the desired emotional response’. Asked to recall just one colour photograph of truly lasting relevance, he says, ‘my mind falters’. Whatever his misgivings, there are many examples here, such as those of Ernabella, drought and the Pilbara, where rich and subtle earthy textures evoke to perfection the genius loci or spirit of place. An early reticence was in the process of being taken over by an intrigue with the language of colour.

For enquiries about these photographs please email Lisa Moore, or Josef Lebovic (Josef Lebovic Gallery).

Pitjantjatjara Children, Ernabella, South Australia – 1963Drought, Cairo Station, Western New South Wales – 1966 Sugar cane cutter, Murwillumbah, New South Wales – 1966 Sugar cane grower, Toby Wilson, Murwillumbah, New South Wales – 1966  Cotton harvesting, Wee Waa, New South Wales – 1966 Cotton harvest, Wee Waa, New South Wales – 1966 Zinc miner Dick Simons, Broken Hill, New South Wales – 1966 Grafitti, Tweed Heads, New South Wales – 1966  Stellar Intensity Interferometer, Narrabri, New South Wales – 1966  Fred Williams in burnt landscape, Victoria – 1969 Tidal river rocks, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria – 1969Industrail work gloves, Kwinana, Western Australia – 1970 Scrap cars, Sydney – 1971  Tree and rain, Lobster Bay, New South Wales – 1976  Angophora tree, Lobster Bay, New South Wales – 1975  Trees after bush fire, Lobster Bay, New South Wales – c. 1976 Mount Lidgbird, Lord Howe Island – 1980Clearing cloud on Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island – 1981 Inflating balloon, Canowindra, New South Wales – 1981 Aboriginal girl, Ernabella, South Australia – 1977  Aboriginal children and thundercloud, Ernabella, South Australia – 1977  Musgrave Range landscape, Ernabella, South Australia – 1977  Tidal mudflats, Hay Piont, Queensland – 1978  Industrial detail 1 – 1978  Industrial detail 2 – 1978  Industrial detail 3 – 1978  Industrial detail 4 – 1978  Coal mining, Central Queensland – 1978  Paraburdoo landscape detail, the Pilbara, Western Australia – 1985  Paraburdoo landscape, the Pilbara, Western Australia – 1985  Paraburdoo landscape 2, the Pilbara, Western Australia – 1985  Pilbara rock detail 1, Western Australia – 1985  Pilbara rock detail 2, Western Australia – 1985  Pilbara rock detail 3, Western Australia – 1985  Pilbara rock detail 4, Western Australia – 1985  Gorge detail, the Pilbara, Western Australia – 1985  Red gorge landscape, the Pilbara, Western Australia – 1985  Mount Leopold Range, Karratha Station, the Pilbara, Western Australia – 1985  Mount Nameless Gorge, the Pilbara, Western Australia – 1985 Sign on roadside, the Pilbara, Western Australia – 1985  Agricultural design, Queensland – 1985  Tailings dump 1, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia – 1985 Tailings dump 2, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia – 1985  Tailings dump 3, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia – 1985Ayres Rock (Uluru) detail, Central Australia – 1985  Ayres Rock (Uluru), Central Australia – 1985  Evening landscape, Gundagai, New South Wales – 1987 Bathurst landscape, New South Wales – 1987  Aberdeen Angus in landscape, Hunter Valley, New South Wales – 1988  Port Kembla steelworks NSW – c.1966Steelworkers coming off shift at Port Kembla NSW – c.1966Industrial landscape, Port Kembla, NSW – 1966NSW industrial complex at Port Kembla, Illawarra Range in back – 1966City of Armidale, sunrise – 1992William Street, Sydney – 1966David Potts at Newnes – c.1948Rock cave, Southern Highlands, NSW – c.1948Wes Stacey, Kurnell, NSW – 1973Newnes, NSW – c.1948