Interview with Christopher Allery for 2021 ILFORD CCP Salon
Photography by Christopher Allery
Christopher Allery is a multidisciplinary artist who is based in Naarm/Melbourne. His practice includes photography, short fiction and performance. Compelled by the beauty of the dark, he creates work that is lingering and mysterious.
What's your name and background?
Christopher Allery: Hi my name is Christopher Allery, I’m from Cooroy a small town on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Growing up it was at night when the town was covered by darkness that my imagination was ignited. Fascinated by the process of creative making, I went on to study both visual arts and film at Brisbane’s QUT. Now living and working in Naarm/Melbourne, focusing and honing my photographic practice has become an integral part of daily life.
Is this the first time you have participated in Salon, and what is the story behind your submitted works?
CA: The 2020 Salon was my first experience exhibiting at CCP. It was a great opportunity to see my work amongst such a varied and rich selection of participants. My work ‘Night’ (2021) for this year’s Salon is a quiet piece, abstracted and painterly. It is an image that captures Treasury Gardens in the evening just before the lockdown curfew. To me, it is calming in its stillness. It is dreamlike and meditative.
What inspires you to take photos?
CA: I have always been fascinated by the magic, almost supernatural qualities of the camera. And that feeling bleeds into excitement and the compulsion to take photos. The ambiguity of storytelling with a single image is a powerful reason to create work. Sites that speak to me - an old neighbour’s private Hoop Pine forest in Cooroy, public gardens, the interior of my mother’s house.
How do you prefer to shoot and using what genre of instrument?
CA: Often, I shoot in lowlight or at night. Subjects, objects, and scenes are lit by artificial light creating a unique quality. Each camera has such a different visual output. Getting to understand a camera is like getting to hopefully make a very good friend. I am presently enjoying getting to know my Sony ar7II. Embracing the mirrorless camera.
Has your use of social media changed or influenced the way that you create, share and view your work?
CA: Instagram is a great way to showcase works in progress, and during the past few years has been a helpful way to push myself to continue building a body of work to share with others. It is also extremely inspiring to see what other artists using the photographic medium are creating. The world of photography right now is a rush of a ride. It is just hard sometimes to get a hold of yourself, so you are not spending hours down the rabbit hole.
Which is stronger to you the influence of people or the influence of place?
CA: People and place are closely connected in my practice. Their presence in my work feed each other. Personal sites of interest are generally charged spaces and intuitively feel like the right spaces to create work. It has felt like a thrilling journey to familarise myself with Naarm/Melbourne and it’s history. People who are part of my social fabric have often acted as guide or become subjects. Fitzroy Gardens is close to where I live, and I now know it in all seasons like the back of my hand, day and night.
If you could quiz one photographer about their method, who would it be?
CA: I saw Gregory Crewdson give a lecture a few years back. He likes to do swimming laps and this appealed to me. I’d ask — “What do you think about while you swim?”. Maybe that’s the wrong question to ask to access where his ideas come from, but I guess you have to start somewhere.
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