Civic Melancholy: Urban Landscape in an Australian Regional Context

By Jamie Holcombe.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

My research suggests that most photographs are inherently melancholic, and that this is driven by the contextual relationship between the representation, and subsequent interpretation of an image’s content. My subsequent photographic arts practice explores this concept with particular reference to urban landscape in regional Australia, and employs strategies that blend irony with sadness by juxtaposing the aesthetics and the content of the images. Whilst the compositions are deliberate and aesthetically disciplined, the subject matter is inherently less elegant. Even without people, only places, such images primarily allude to the transience of human life. The consequence is to elicit a sense of the melancholy, rather than the traditional landscape’s more customary mood of sentimentality. Such imagery merges the urban landscape with social documentary photography, by archiving a cultural and social record of people and events, resulting in a kind of social landscape that is questioning and challenging to the viewer, as well as provoking contemplation and reflection. Ultimately, it can empower us, by reminding us that our urban “civic” environment is a consequence of our collective behaviour.

Keywords: Photography, Fine Art, Melancholy, Regional Australia, Urban Landscape, Social Documentary, Social Landscape

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.163-176. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.149MB).

Jamie Holcombe

School of Communication & Creative Industries, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia

Jamie Holcombe has a degree in Visual Arts majoring in photography from Sydney College of the Arts (Sydney University), and completed post-graduate studies in Art/Photography at the University of Newcastle. He is currently completing a PhD in fine art photography at Charles Sturt University, which is located in regional Australia. After implementing multimedia and photo-Imaging disciplines at Charles Sturt University, Jamie developed the Photography degree introduced on the Wagga Wagga campus of CSU in 2006, and he currently heads the program. He teaches and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students in photography/photomedia. Jamie is an established practicing exhibiting artist, with numerous solo and group shows since 1978, and has concurrently gained extensive experience in the professional/industrial photographic arena. It is this hybrid professional background that has underpinned his teaching strategies in the Photography program at CSU.