I first saw Ken Duncan’s work in 1990 when I landed, fresh faced off a one way QF2 trip from London. He had a few postcards printed and for sale in stands around the Rocks. They were at the time, far and away the most riveting images I had seen of Australia.
Seeing Kens work inspired me to pick up a camera and to start to use light. I went to his old Matcham gallery every time we went to the Central coast for the day. I still recall the fantastic image of Monument Valley in his old gallery, saw the price, and thought I had better improve, so I could put own images on my own walls.
So really Both Ken Duncan and Peter Lik were at that time doing what no one else was doing. It was Australian photography at it’s best. And they were masters of beautiful landscape photography. Cameras were relatively much more expensive then, and you had to use this dispensable product called film, which if you used a lot, and medium format at that, could be expensive. So these guys were good, they had to be or they wasted film and thus wasted money.
Roll forward twenty five years. Every man and his dog has a ‘good camera’. Some of them even let you talk to your mates on. There are more images than ever. So Ken Duncan and Peter Lik are now in a field that is a hundred times more competitive than it was. However, it’s still good to stop awhile and appreciate the works of the pioneers. I still pop into the Erina Gallery that Ken Duncan has, from time to time… It lacks the intimacy of the old Matcham one, but still a delight to walk around. We might, to quote Triple J favourite Regurgitator, say ‘I like your old stuff better than you new stuff’ – but you have to take your hat off to them. Or your lens cap…