Life Death Rebirth


By Bec Dean, Curator, Australin Centre for Photography

Little Things

When Garth Knight carefully binds and photographs living forms – friends, loved-ones, acquaintances - he takes them momentarily out of time. Given to his trust and care he suspends their rapid passing. They are lifted tenderly from the earth.

Cells, vessels, tissue, muscle, skin, nerves, cartilage and bone grow and differentiate in seemingly endless folds together. At birth, skeletons are still soft and take time to strengthen. But in the end they are the longest to remain – stark and white – after everything else has fallen to decay.

In this collection, Knight lifts the shells of the dead from the earth – gathering, photographing and arranging them as mandala for contemplation. They are parts of animals, birds, crustaceans and sea creatures. Little things of elaborate design that still assert their presence in the landscape (for those with eyes to see). A wallaby jawbone, a crab’s claw, the beak of an albatross, a starfish, an eggshell – all hard jewels in the soft earth.

Unlike the obsessive collector concerned with preservation and the identification of type, Knight chooses to photograph the difference borne of a chance encounter and the particular qualities of an object or subject. In the studio it is the intricate web of knots and rope that enhance and frame the body parts of individual women and men. Here it is careful interconnection, repetition and the extraction of detail from ground that offers crystalline new forms to mere fragments. As mandala (and like snowflakes) their visual resonance conveys simultaneous notions of the eternal and the transient.

In his work Knight elevates the extraordinary-ordinary as an act of worship. As photographs, these little things are gifts that remind us to linger, to take notice while we too are passing through.

Bec Dean