I have sat on this photo for almost a year.
Why? Because I know some people will find it confronting.
Well, yes it is. It's supposed to be confronting. Art is doing a good job if it challenges your head space, sometimes that means making people uncomfortable.
This is Dan.
Many years back he was in a horrific accident, and ever since has struggled with the physical and mental scars.
When we discussed mental health, we were thinking of a way to depict his own battle in one image. It's a tough ask, but the photo speaks for itself I think.
I'm sure there will be people who don't like this image. They (perhaps you) will think that it might lead someone to self harm. Personally, I don't agree. Funny that it seems to be people who have never suffered from mental illness dictating what they think is ok to see, ok to discuss. The "experts". The experts are no more an expert than the ones who suffer every day. Oh no you can't discuss or depict the reality. Just show us the recovery. Doesn't work like that.
People hide away, locked up with shame and self hate.
This depicts the reality for Dan. Why should we hide that? I can post you a million beautiful sunrises, a million photos of gorgeous dogs, and of course I love them, but it doesn't tell you a story like this photo does.
The Facebook police will no doubt tell me it's inappropriate. I doubt it would ever make it to the short list on a portrait prize.
I love that the mental illness stigma is slowly lessening, but it's not gone. All the RUOK? posts are great, but if people cannot see the reality of what people suffer from then it's all hot air and meaningless. "I will forward the chain post on FB but please don't expect me to actually look at anything confronting!, it make me uncomfortable".
This is REAL. This should be included in the discussion.
For the more we talk, the more we feel supported and not so completely alone, and that's what can give us the courage to face another day.
Ode to the Bin Man
Each week I plan with precious care
the things I leave outside.
I pack them up and place them there
with love and earnest pride
Each time I work to have them waiting
placed the night before.
I know your path will lead today
your feet will pass my door.
I hardly ever hear you,
but I know that you have been.
You leave a trace that you were here
Though my eyes have never seen.
But on one morn, I was caught out
and found under prepared.
The sound of your approaching
had me flying down the stairs.
Pulling on my trousers
Iʼm racing to the gate.
To catch your eye before you go
before you seal my fate.
Spilling out onto the ground
just like my best laid plans.
My heart gives way as you depart
my shame held in my hand.
Itʼs premature collection.
My bins are overflowed.
And now I'm forced to wait a week,
in fear I watch them grow.
The ever growing mountain
of rubbish in my yard
has now become the round-about
around which I drive my car.
And then the folk in China
Tell us that no more
can they take away our pile of shame.
It seems weʼve lost the war.
Oh Romeo where art thou?
Will I ever hear the sound
of your engine strong, that throbbing song?
Where are you to be found?
Recycling man my hero
what will become of you?
Will council grant you leave to go
and find a path more true?
So for now my plastic bottles
pile right up to the sky.
Buried under cardboard stacks
beneath them I may die.
Bin man Oh sweet bin man
I think of you each night.
I hope that youʼll return to me
and set these wrongs to right.
Waiting ever hopeful
that youʼll return posthaste.
For now my house of trash it grows
swelling my hard waste.
Collection however premature
So sweet has found the end.
Into that hole we tip our souls
Farewell to thee my friend.
© Tim Henshall 2019
For many Aussies, Bali is our go to holiday destination. It's close, its cheap, it's beautiful, it's warm and the people are so friendly. Every where you go in Bali there are dogs. We have a special relationship with our dogs at home, they are family. It's not the same in Bali and most of us probably feel a pang in the heart when witnessing the poorly condition of the majority of them. Fleas, ticks and mange are the standard, but also illnesses such as rabies have a high incidence. So, what can we do? Personally my go to is my photography. I am trying to raise enough money to allow me to spend a week in Bali creating digital content (photos and videos) for them team at the Bali Street Dog Fund who dedicate their lives to helping these poor K9s. Operating out of the BAWA (Bali Animal Welfare Association) base in Ubud, they go out each day to pick up dogs for vet care and /or educate the local people on the best practice of looking after a dog. Some of these dogs are well loved and fed, but the way of connecting with the dogs is different, they are not so much a part of the family, so often are not in good health. This is where the education comes in. I love to take photos of dogs. Obviously here the focus is on happy healthy animals who get to lived a blessed life. This is more of a hobby than anything else for me because its a luxury to have photographs of your dogs taken and pay for the service. Spending a week with the BSDF crew will not be about taking lovely photos. It is going to be the most difficult and heart breaking photography work I have ever done. However, I feel it is important and one I feel compelled to achieve. The team there needs updated material in order to keep the sponsorship flowing, to keep the awareness high. I am trying to raise enough money to go, for while I am aiming to donate a lot of time to this, I cant afford to do the whole trip off my own back. That is where you come in! By helping me get to Bali you are helping me to create the content for these guys to attract larger sponsorship amounts that they need to continue their work. I have over 500 Facebook friends. If they each donated $5 it would be enough to get me there for a week. $5! The cost of a cup of coffee.
Please consider helping me get to Bali. Just a small donation from any of you will help.
Copy and paste the link to go to my Go Fund me page.
I have found that if you have a good idea, more often than not people will at least give it consideration. It's a bit of a scary prospect pitching a creative idea to anyone, to me my art is part of my self expression, as is my music.
This makes it very personal.
A while back I had an idea to take a photo of Dr.Karl Kruszelnicki in the pose of Rodin's famous sculpture, The Thinker.
For years I have listened to Dr.Karl and read his books, he is my "Science Hero". He is my go to man for all things science based even though my brain hurts on regular occasions listening to the explanations he gives.
I hoped Karl would be firstly open to the idea, secondly would be able to make room in his schedule to humour me in going ahead with the project, and thirdly, would like the final result! So, I contacted him, and here we are.
I find Karl to be very gracious and generous with both his time and his knowledge. As I set up and conducted the shoot, he and his faithful sidekick Isabelle bounced ideas around, organised weekend engagements and fielded telephone calls. Throughout the whole process he managed to keep his mind on the task of being a model, and in this case it's quite an awkward and uncomfortable pose. Talk about multi tasking!
The whole time I was with him, his stream of consciousness was on high. What we hear on the radio/podcasts or see on TV is who he is in person, there is no stopping the information that continuously pours out on all matter of things. It feels as if he stores so much knowledge inside his head the overflow just has to spill over, but what was interesting and joyous to see is how it's all delivered with such a sense of excitement and passion.
I think this passion for understanding is a huge part of why this man is so magnetic to so many people. He loves to learn and discover things about everything around us, and is so keen to share it with everyone else.
That kind passion and excitement is infectious.
I did not set out to replicate Rodin's famous sculpture, rather I wanted the portrait to refer to it, as I believe it is an appropriate way to depict Karl in what he represents, at least, to me: a thinker who spends a vast amount of time and energy gathering knowledge, processing it, and passing it on.
In the end, I am very happy with the final result and am pleased to tell you that Karl likes it too!
Every day on Mount Lampuyang, right next to Mount Agung in East Bali, this woman and her son get dropped off at the base of the walk up to the temple of Pura Lempuyang Luhur, the highest temple in Bali.
There are 1700 steps plus joining paths. 1700...
Along the path there are 7 temple sites, and it took me roughly 2.5 hours of constant climbing to reach the highest one.
This lady has a very small stall just beneath the peak, the 3rd last stall out of many, in the least accessible location, where only (from my very rough calculations) 1/10th of the people visiting the mountain actually get to. Most of the visitors, Balinese and Internationals alike, stop at one of the 6 temples below. Every day, she carries her son and all the food she has at her stall up the 1700 stairs, and down again at the end of the day. She has bad knees and a bad back.
I sat with her and her son for 1/2 an hour, had some food and chatted as best we could about our children, and it was beautiful. She told me that on a good day, she might make 4-500,000 rupiah. That's $5 Australian. Of course I bought snacks and water, more than I needed, but what I came away with a lovely photo, a heart warming memory of these two beautiful people, and a good dose of perspective.
If you walk one or two streets back from the main drag in any developing nation, you get to see the real people, the heart. Here is was a long way from the hustle and bustle of tourist central. The Balinese people are amazing, they are open and warm if you show them respect. I walked up the steps with many families, but only 2 that I started with went all the way to the top, and they were all very happy that I had gone the whole way. "Where are you from?" seems to be the common ice breaker here, but my interaction on the mountain went well beyond that. There were laughs, sighs from tired people, sore legs a plenty. But we made it.
When I look at this photo, its not my best, its basically a snap shot. But for me it holds a very special meaning and it is one of my favourite people photos of any shots I have taken.
Everyone has to eat, pay for the home, the kids and so on. Doesn't matter where you are, the story is very similar. We all get caught up in our own lives, how tough it is for us. If you actually look, there is usually someone doing it way tougher than us.
We all have our stairs to climb, what matters the most is how you look at them. For this woman, there are 1700 stairs for $5.
Its all about perspective.