olive and oak

elize strydom's photo journal

Month: January, 2014

summer scenes – part one


The truly has been one of my best summers. And it’s not over yet, hooray! Today is the last day of my working week (I work weekends) and the next two days will be spent camping by a beach a few hours north of Sydney. Hooray, indeed!

days like these


I have a feeling that these are the pictures I’ll come back to in the depths of winter to remind myself that warmth and bare skin and carefree days are just around the corner.


land of the bloody unknown


Back in late November 2013, Dan and I got in the car and drove over 13 hours west to a town called Broken Hill. I spent a week there in December 2012 shooting the Small Town Girl project (some photos from that trip here and here) and this time I was there to hang the photos for my exhibition at the Regional Gallery. Rural Australia fascinates and frightens me: the breathtaking land of the bloody unknown where a quiet and complex melancholia pervades.


^^ Dan preparing our dinner on the bonnet of an old car.


^^ Setting up at the gallery. It was such a thrill! The staff were super professional and treated me like a real artist which felt a little funny. Lovely Dan kept reassuring me that my work deserved to be there just as much as the work of artists I consider to be ‘real’. Oh, Dan πŸ™‚



Dear Lee on holiday in North Haven, NSW. Click on the photo to enlarge it – I reckon it looks better big.

modern art = i could do that + yeah, but you didn’t


Last Wednesday evening Dan and I were picking up some film scans from my lab in Redfern when we bumped into Ange who was on her way to wall ball. She’s invited me to play so many times but it’s always on a Sunday afternoon when I go to church. But there ain’t no church on a Wednesday so we joined in and played a few rounds and man, was it fun. I hadn’t played handball against a wall for years and years. Next it was up to Kings Cross for a photography exhibition. We met Amelia and headed for an underground car park where Samuel Hodge was showing his work as part of Alaska Projects. I’ve followed Samuel for a while and often take his photo book Pretty Telling I Suppose off my shelf for a read but I had never been to one of his exhibitions. This one was called ‘The Imponderable Archive’ – four framed images that he’d made based on profile pictures from gay dating sites. The absurd, sex, reappropriation and fashion were obvious, general themes but I must admit, I struggle to ‘get’ what he’s doing. I want to, though…I want to understand.

I guess the criteria by which I judge a photography exhibition is based on an artist’s commitment to the project and/or body of work (which can be measured in terms of time spent researching and producing it, the lengths they went to to create it – scope of the shots, distance traveled, challenges overcome, envelopes pushed etc., the belief and confidence they have in it, efforts to prioritise art making in their life), its ability to tell a story or communicate a message, technical skill and aesthetic quality.

That said, I’m reminded of a really apt poster I saw a while back that said ‘Modern art = I could do that + yeah, but you didn’t.’ So a big chunk of what makes an artist valuable or legit in my book is that they ‘did it’. Samuel Hodge ‘did it’ and staged a solo exhibition, one of many he’s had in both Australia and Europe.

Now – a disclaimer – I don’t believe I have all of the skills to ‘properly’ assess or critique art. I’ve undertaken less than six months of formal photography study so I’m aware that I probably don’t view it within the ‘correct’ framework or have the appropriate tools to dissect it. I DO know that there’s a lot I DON’T know but I’ve written these words largely for myself, to make sense of my thoughts and record my progress as I seek a greater understanding of art and expression. Sure I could have written in my journal instead but by ‘putting it out there’ into this relatively safe space I’m forced to order my thoughts and coherently discuss my position. Which I think I did? Enough for now.

Anyway…these two – Amelia and Dan – love ’em. After the exhibition we had a stroll around the Cross then went back to Amelia’s for wine and reading recommendations. Amelia’s aiming to read 50 books this year while I’m going for 20 and Dan’s goal is four. I’m currently devouring John Safran’s true crime book Murder In Mississippi.

the pools


A trip to the Karloo Pools in the Royal National Park with Dan and Lee – currently the frontrunner for the title of ‘BEST DAY OF SUMMER 2013/14’. I’ve lived in Sydney for 3.5 years now and there’s still SO much of its natural beauty I’m yet to discover.

one week


Work drinks at ‘an old man pub’ (accordng to Hannah) + a dusk walk through my neighbourhood. Eveleigh markets + a catch up with Maddy + a Surry Hills stroll + Crooks vs Hoops + a trek down south to a rave in a WWII bunker + dancing until dawn with Hannah. An epic brunch at Salvage with Rach + Louis + Lee + a picnic on Observatory Hill + cricket + Love Actually. An early morning trip to the flower markets + a surf at Palm Beach followed by a skate at Manly + pizza at Hugo’s + a Christmas present exchange + The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A flight up north + reconnecting with mum, Andre, Chris, dad, Tan + a dance party in the kitchen with my niece. A three day headache + a lump in my throat + a sore heart + dark thoughts + I wish things were different. A drive further north to my old stomping ground + two hours to myself in a cafe, reading and observing then a text that told me something I didn’t want to hear + a teary drive to the arms of my best friend. Three days of swimming, eating, board games, babies + all the while thinking about that text + wrestling with a transition that I didn’t seem to want but definitely needed. Finally a breakthrough, cliched as it sounds, + a realisation that I really did want to let go + and a feeling of freedom that I’d forgotten I could feel. Yeah, a lot can happen in a week off work.


Thanks to my girl Taryn for the last three shots!

a trip to the flower markets


My dear little Lee is a budding florist (yeah, I said it) and just before Christmas I joined her on one of her thrice weekly trips to the Sydney flower market. In a warehouse about half an hour out of the city I was exposed to a buzzing little microcosm full of anomalies. Big burly blokes tenderly cradling bunches of blooms and fiery florists competing for Christmas bush. I tried to stay out of the way and observe the fascinating scenes playing out around me. At times I was too engrossed in the goings on to actually take a photo so the shots here represent the quieter moments of an otherwise frenetic hour or so. Watching Lee do her thang showed me a side of her I’d not seen before. She is genuinely in love with flowers and so excited about what she can create. It’s impossible for her to hide her delight as she spots the perfect addition to the bouquet she’s already arranged in her head. It really is a treat to witness. So Lee, thanks for letting me tag along…and take your picture at 5:30am!

about life


My dear friend Liz is currently over the seas with her mister. She’s taking pictures with a camera that keeps letting too much light in and writing words that make me feel as though I am alongside her, every time I read her blog. I really like blogs like Liz’s. There’s no specific theme and the posts are all about her life, real life. If a blogger a) takes photos on film and b) writes honestly and openly about their life, then you can pretty much guarantee I’ll bookmark the page and check back often. Lots of blogs focus on fashion, food, photography, parenting etc. – which is totally fine –Β  but I’m drawn to accounts of the personal, day to day stuff. Here are some of my favourites: Rose & Crown, Schorlemaedchen and Something From My Day. I’m sure there are others that I’m not aware of so if you have some suggestions please comment and let me know!

top ten (again)


A few weeks back I listed my favourite albums of 2013 and now here are my 10 favourite songs. I’ll be voting for ’em in the world’s largest music democracy, triple j’s Hottest 100. What were your faves? votevotevote!

1. Comrade – Volcano Choir

2. I Am Sold – James Blake

3. Royals – Lorde

4. Dojo Rising – Cloud Control

5. Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys

6. Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2 – Drake feat. JAY Z

7. Luck Now – Big Scary

8. Will Calls – Grizzly Bear

9. Let Down – Bored Nothing

10. Baby I Am Nobody Now – Andy Bull