We all know that Wayne Quilliam is an amazing photographic artist but what is his story? How did he establish himself as one the country’s most renowned Indigenous Photographic Artist?
By
NITV Staff Writer

18 Dec 2015 - 5:27 PM  UPDATED 18 Dec 2015 - 5:36 PM

This month NITV shocases the works of photographic artist Wayne Quilliam in our Summer Arts Series. Wayne Quilliam is the countries most renowned Indigenous photographic artist, his works has been displayed in museums and galleries across the entire globe and recently NITV got the chance to sit down with Wayne to ask him five revealing questions giving insight into the life and mind of this remarkable artist.

Five Questions for Wayne Quilliam

Who’s your mob?

Tasmania is my country, a land of strength and resurgence.

Tell us something about your people?

From a young age I spent a great deal of time in the bush, in particular around the Great Lakes and Central Tasmania. Unlike many countrymen, I was not afforded the right to learn tradition, the knowledge and understanding of the land came from my grandfather and uncles but most importantly from within me when hunting and fishing. 

To articulate a sense of connection to your land, to your surroundings is difficult, I believe all humans have the power but it is our people that truly channel the spirit of country, of the ancestors every second of our lives.   

Did you have one favourite image and/or a series of work that you like in particular? 

I find it difficult to nominate a favourite image as it literally changes every day, what is important to me is the incredible stories from each photograph.

Here are just some of those stories; Photographs from NAIDOC events in the 80’s or photographing Archie and Ruby at one of their first concerts, being invited by Dr Yunupingu to document the Garma Festivals or recording history at Parliament House with the Apology are memorable series of work. Creating the Art Nude series titled ‘Lowanna’, is my creative outlet, to meld the human form with textures of the earth allows me to visualise and share the powerful connection we have with the earth. 

How has the industry changed since you started your career as a photographic artist?

Back in the old days, I used to ‘Blackout’ the bathroom and setup a small darkroom wherever I was living, then taught myself how to develop and print the work then hand tone each image with Ochre and Plant dye given to me from countrymen. With the onset of digital processing it is easier and also not as toxic to create these works and the same principals are still in effect, working with the right person to explore the natural intent of who and why we are and watching and listening to the earth as she shares defining textures. 

In the beginning, it was a challenging process of finding the right people to pose naked, shame job was the most common response. Today 90% of the ‘models’ are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from across the country and are extremely proud and vocal about sharing their essence with the world, unfortunately Australia still has a long way to come regarding the ‘Nude’ and Aboriginal culture. 

I have developed, curated and exhibited my works in critical acclaim establishments across the globe and yet at home there is very little interest.   

What is your most favourite camera to use and why?

For stills photography my Nikon D810 is superb, the tonal range and beautiful colours suit my style. My workhorse is the Nikon D4 an absolutely amazing camera that has never stopped working in torrential downpours, dust storms, bouncing around in the back of troopers and the most demanding situation surviving NAIDOC Balls.  For video work the new mirror-less camera’s like the Panasonic GH4 with its 4k is extraordinary, I find them a little difficult to use as they feel like toys compared to the pro beasts.