Review / Dombrovskis’ photographs ‘shine’

Art / “Dombrovskis: Journeys into the Wild”, National Library of Australia, until January 30. Reviewed by ANNI DOYLE WAWRZYNCZAK

IN the late 1970s, my mother introduced me to Peter Dombrovskis’ remarkable photographs of the Tasmanian wilderness. 

Pencil pine at “Pool of Siloam”, Walls of Jerusalem National Park, 1982. 

For a child of Australia’s far north, steeped in humidity and the vivid colours and pervasive aromas of tropical vegetation, these images, and their titles, such as “Pencil pine at Pool of Siloam”, “Walls of Jerusalem National Park, 1982”, or “Pandani in snow with Lots wife beyond, Southwest National Park”, offered up a mysterious other-world that was alluringly geographically accessible.

When I finally moved to Tasmania at the beginning of the 1990s, the sense of recognition was visceral.

In 2017, 71 of the 3000 colour transparencies that had been acquired by the NLA in 2007, were printed by Les Walkling on Canson Plantine Fibre Rag paper using an Epson Sun Colour P 20070. Walkling’s process has allowed the full power of Dombrovskis’ exceptional technical skill and creative versatility to shine. The photographs in exhibition traverse the length and breadth of the island. They are imbued with passion and sensitivity to place, qualities nurtured from the age of 17 by his close familial relationship with Tasmania’s conservationist photographer Olegas Truchanas.

“Cradle Mountain and Kathleen’s Pool, Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, 1984”.

Dombrovskis’ technical ability allows for uncannily faithful representations of the island’s extreme climactic variability and specific geographic characteristics. In  “Cradle Mountain and Kathleen’s Pool, Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, 1984”, the particular clarity of the air defines the image as being within the Cradle Mountain National Park without recourse to the photograph’s title.

The unique Dolorite Tors on Hobart’s Mt Wellington; the shallow alpine pools, painterly snow gums and vibrant lichens of the high country; the improbable cushion plants that soften the contours of Mt Anne in the Southwest National Park; the misty reaches of the Walls of Jerusalem National Park: Dombrovskis presents Tasmania’s wilderness in its fascinating detail and in its sublime vastness.

“Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend, Franklin River, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park Tasmania”. 

It is an undeniable thrill to see again the iconic 1980 photograph of Tasmania’s Franklin River, which brought international recognition to and provided a powerful focus for those who successfully fought for the wild rivers’ preservation. “Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend, Franklin River, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park Tasmania”, evokes the ancient mysterious landscape that led UNESCO to inscribe the Tasmanian wilderness on the World Heritage List in 1982.

For those who have not yet experienced the wonders of Tasmania first hand, be prepared to book plane tickets after seeing this marvellous exhibition.

 

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