Photography Exhibition Canning River is a personal photographic project I began taking my camera with me on my daily walks to record the wetland landscape between Greenfield Bridge and Kent St Weir and some of the uses people made of it.
Photographing the Canning River Regional Park was a natural extension of the landscape photography I have been making for publications since the late 80s. Most of that work has drawn me to remote locations, often national parks and reserves, where I would hike, camp and photograph.
The concept of national parks is sometimes a curious one. Parks and reserves are defined on maps with explicit boundaries indicated by blocks of colour or dotted lines. Of course in the natural world no such clear cut boundaries really exist, just regions of transition. However, those dotted lines hold power, shaping how we identify with the land and our perception of its value. Images made within a national park boundary are more readily published than a similar landscape outside of that boundary.
Consequently, one landscape’s value can be held above another. This is not surprising as visiting national parks invokes positive associations of beauty, the exotic, freedom, relaxation and ‘getting back to nature’.
The landscape I am choosing to interpret does not involve the romance of travel, it is familiar, not exotic, it is in my own back yard, within the city.
But choosing to value one landscape over another, and by implication, the welfare of one above another may be just as curious a notion as the neat lines drawn on a map. All landforms are interconnected and communicate through zones of transition with each other. The welfare and healthy state of one region affect its neighbouring regions, and so on. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Nowhere is this concept more apparent than the example of the Canning River flowing from a plateau down to an urbanised sand plain, meeting the Swan River, then out to sea. A river does not observe discrete boundaries or rights granted on a map, nor do birds or animals. Likewise, a fence does not prevent weeds from spreading from one side to another, or define a clear ecological demarcation of species habitat, nor does it prevent water or airborne contaminants from one side entering another.
Much work in research, monitoring and rehabilitation has been conducted within the park by agencies and volunteers. The resulting images started in 2011 have now emerged into a pictorial collection of the parkland in its current state and use. I have chosen to embrace all of the park’s character, including both native species and the new invading species which have arrived since European settlement. To this day I continue to make images of the parkland and river, as part of an ongoing project in documenting its state of change. 44 images have been published in the book: Lost in Suburbia, published by Stormlight Publishing, which was launched and exhibited at Riverton Library in 2013.
If you are in the Wilson – Kent Street area then please come to the Photography Exhibition, Canning River Eco Centre.